Category Archives: Voile-aviron

Caledonia Yawl project: Labour day long weekend, sailing back across the Salish Sea (part 3)

As you can imagine, once you’ve crossed the straight of Georgia and it went so well there is both a sense of accomplishment and trepidation as now I have to do it one more time. Even though I’ve done it dozens of times on different sailboats of various sizes from 21′ to 130′ this 19.5′ Caledonia yawl is by far the smallest one. Without a keel and with only oars and a 1276Wh battery the prospect of making it across in a reasonable time does make me a little anxious.

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The evening before looked like this and so with a forecast of light to moderate north westerlies building in the late afternoon, I felt somewhat confident of the prospect of a good crossing.

The boat was anchored in Brownie bay with a big low tide at 8am which I knew would dry out the boat and so we would be able to carry out all our stuff directly from the group camp site to the boat and not have to bring the boar around to the marine park dock.

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We then waited for the tide to float the boat and with only a few inches of water we were able to walk it out to deeper waters at 11am while our families set off to catch the BC Ferry from Departure bay to Horseshoe bay. I had a new crew for the sail home with my friend Patrice and my brother-in-law Lucas. We set off with a solid 10-12 knot NW breeze and lots of sunscreen with zinc oxide.

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The boat was a bit lighter than on the way back and for an hour we were making great time averaging just over five knots.

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But soon as we went past entrance island and it’s beautiful lighthouse we saw that the light part of the forecast was really going to take over. We started to motor-sail to keep the boat moving at at least 3 knots and set up the solar panels to recharge the battery as we went along. This worked quite well as we moved them around to stay in the sun.

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The MPPT charger is a bit hard to read as it’s refresh rate seems to match the shutter speed of the digital camera but you can see it was stepping up an input of 19.2V to 48V for an input of 1.8 Amps. This was with just two panels out. We then managed to find a spot for a third 50W panel on deck. My plan is eventually to have all the panels lay flat on an inflatable paddle board that I tow behind the boat so that all four 50W panels can get shade-free sunlight with minimal resistance from the paddle board.

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Nevertheless with 25 nautical miles to go and very little wind, it was still a question if the 1276Wh battery would take us far enough to catch a breeze or we would be left rowing at the end of the crossing. We kept optimizing the motor output to keep it around 250W-300W which seems to move the boat easily over 3knots and then would feather it back if we caught a little bit of breeze.

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As we approached the shipping lane to the NW of Point Grey we caught the thermal sea breeze that helped to pull us towards English bay. There were a few moments of doing some time on distance calculations to figure out what the best course was as we had to navigate one freighter and one tug with barge while crossing the shipping lanes. I was very happy to have a handheld VHF radio and a full sized Davis collapsible radar reflector hauled up on a flag pole to the top of the mizzen mast. Which hopefully made this little wood dinghy much more visible on the water.

As the sun set the sea breeze started to slacken and we eeked out every last ray of sunshine to charge the battery by holding the panels up to near vertical until there was no free energy left to harvest.

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After 9 hours on the water with most of it motoring it was amazing how relaxed and comfortable the crossing had been. The electric motor was so quiet that we did not feel like it had been a tiring day at all.

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That said, the motor readout was letting us know that at the current rate we had just 40 minutes of run-time left and there was still over three miles to go from the bell buoy at the entrance to Burrard Inlet.

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It was fun to have a visit from the Jericho Sailing Centre’s rescue boat as they did their evening sweep of the bay. We switched on the portable running lights and let them know we would be alright making it back to the club under our own steam.

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A beautiful twilight lingered long enough for us to enjoy the return to familiar waters.

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As we got within sight of the Jericho Sailing Centre we had just 20 minutes of run-time on the battery left. It felt like such a fun accomplishment to stretch the capacity for the 1276Wh battery to more than 7 hours of run-time to do this 30 nautical mile crossing.

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Luckily the centre has great lights in the compound which made taking all the gear out and putting the boat to bed a relatively easy task.

Caledonia Yawl project: Labour Day weekend (Part 2)

For the next four days we did little day trips around Protection Island and out to Kanaka Bay on Saysutchun.

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The boat stayed comfortably at anchor in Brownie bay at the north east end of the camping area on nice sand between two sandstone rock groins. The tides were nice and big and so the boat would lay on the sand each morning for a few hours. This is how I was able to go and walk out to the anchor and see exactly how it lay. It is fishermans with folding flukes which allows it to pack up into a nice small package aboard. I also have a Fortress FX-7 4lbs anchor but I find it much more involved to take apart and so my tendency is to keep it as the backup as it is quite cumbersome on a small boat when it is put together. I’ve been eyeing the Mantus M2 8lbs anchor as it looks to be quick to take apart and would stow away nicely. It is just a little expensive and not that easy to source in Canada.

The boat in the morning at anchor looking back towards the camping area of Saysutchun. Note that there is a no anchoring area that protects eel grass for half the channel between Saysutchun and Protection island. I’m anchored further out where there is mostly just sand and less eel grass.

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Each morning, I could not help but go out to take pictures of the boat at sunrise as it was such a nice light.

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This one really captures the feeling of a languishing summer morning.

I also took the time to recharge the ePropulsion battery with my solar panels. On the way over we had only motored a little to get out of English bay and then near the end to do the last few miles to the Saysutchun dock. So it only took a few hours to top off the battery.

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In the next part the voyage back to Vancouver.

Caledonia Yawl Project: Labour day weekend sailing to Saysutchun across the Salish Sea (part 1)

This long weekend trip was touch and go as I watched the weather window. The plan was to take the 19.5′ Caledonia Yawl An Aod Oolichan across Georgia Strait from Vancouver to Nanaimo a distance of 30 nautical miles with the whole distance in an open stretch of sea with quite a bit of fetch if the winds really pick up.

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Windy forecast for the departure day

After a little bit of light winds in English bay because the the land-shadow, true to the forecast the SE breeze did settle in all day at about 12-15 knots.

Once past Point Grey the wind was strong enough that as a precaution i put in one reef in the main and we cruised along comfortably at 5.5 knots and quickly saw the city fade into the horizon.

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Laden with food, camping gear and two of my siblings as crew we really felt the boat hold a steady movement.

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It was a warm day and the boat is quite dry, but there was still an occasional wave that came broadside and a good splash on the front quarter.

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By mid-day we were on a healthy broad reach, we’d shaken out the reef and were still doing good speed in the middle of the strait feeling good that we’d arrive in Saysutchun before sunset.

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The south easterly held all the way past entrance island to the norther tip of Galiano by the Malaspina galleries and then it started to shut down.

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Vancouver is now out of sight
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We started up the electric motor with Protection and Saysutchun islands in sight.

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Our welcome party (who had taken BC Ferries) was already there waiting at the campsite.

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Once unloaded I took it back out to anchor at Brownie Bay as we camped on the island for the next five days.

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An Aod Oolichan: the first cruise

Five days after the launch of An Aod Oolichan my Caledonia Yawl designed by Ian Oughtred, I was ready to take the family out on a multi-day camp cruising adventure. We packed most of our camping gear into waterproof bags and I went and found a flexible soft cooler that will fit nicely in the boat and not scratch up the paint.

Set up on the first cruise took a little longer than expected and we headed off at 4pm on Friday from the Jericho Sailing Centre with a nice 8-10 knot westerly. In overcast skies and forecast for rain mid-day on Saturday.

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We got to the shipping lane with a falling breeze and still 10 miles to Halkett Bay. So in the interest of safety we started up the new electric outboard to motor-sail (ePropulsion Spirit 1.0) which is about the equivalent of a 2-3hp petrol motor.

We arrived after sunset into a dark Halkett bay and tied up to the dinghy dock. (An Aod Oolichan is technically a dinghy). The camp sites are in a fairly wooded area of the park up behind the dock. We set up the tent quickly in the dark and made quick work of dinner with one-pot dehydrated Bim Bim Bap meal. To call it bim bim bap was a stretch but after a long day we were happy to have warm food.

The next morning we tried to set off early to beat the rain and get across to Plumper cove and set up camp there before the big rain.

It was a lot of fun to have a nice building SE breeze pushing us ahead of the rainwall.

Unfortunately the rain beat us to Plumper Cove

But the powers of a bag of chips to keep the spirits up should not be underestimated.

The wind did not abate with the rain. We found that as we were turning the corner of Keats island to Plumper Cove. By the time we got to the turn to the cove we were doing 6.5 knots and the breeze was up to 15-16 knots. I had all the canvas up and knew that when on a run the apparent does not feel as much. I did not want to gybe in these freshening conditions. So as we came up to Plumper cove we rounded up into the wind and simply dropped the main sail. Then tacked and came in calmly into the cove under jib and mizzen. Although it might have been a little early to introduce a high wind manoeuvre to my crew, their two weeks of summer sailing camp came in handy and they were able to assist without any problems.

We got a nice spot at the dock and unloaded all the camping equipment in a bit of a deluge.

My Hennessy hammock hexagonal rain fly tarps are a dream in these situations. They come with light high-strength cord tucked into little pockets at each corner making setting up the tarp in the rain a fair bit faster and easier. We quickly had one set up for the picnic table and another to cover the tent. We also set up another smaller rectangular syltarp over a hammock I picked up on Ecuador made of an old fishing net which we used to hang all our wet weather gear.

Plumper cove is a well maintained marine park with it’s own little library.

On Sunday the clouds parted and we set off for a day trip to Gibsons. It was an opportunity to connect with friends who had recently moved there and recharge the battery for the electric outboard that we had depleted on the first let to Halkett bay.

Upon our return to Plumper cove we were rewarded with a beautiful sunset.

And a chance for a summer family photo

… and the end of the fire ban. So an unexpected campfire.

Monday was a return to full sun. We set out early at 10:30am with a 20 NM return trip to Vancouver ahead of us around the south end of Bowen Island.

We had a beautiful breeze through the Pasley island group. But as we reached cape Roger Curtis the wind started to get very light.

For the next few hours my crew dozed as we motor-sailed along the coast of Bowen Island and watched Point Grey and the buildings downtown slowly emerge in the horizon.

It seems like the gunnels are like a favourite place to hang out.

After eight hours we arrived at the Jericho Sailing Centre with a strong flood pushing us.

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Overall I was super pleased that all that time building and thinking about each aspect of the boat meant that the transition to sailing was relatively natural. There are still many little things to tweak in the rigging (make lazyjacks) and the way we stow gear onboard. I was also pleased that we did encounter some challenging conditions that pushed us to adapt and work together as a family. It was a very successful first voyage aboard An Aod Oolichan and I look forward to returning to sailing around Atl’Ka7tsem / Howe Sound which on September 15th was designated a UNESCO Biosphere reserve. How fortunate I feel to have such a unique geography and biosphere right in my back-ocean.

Caledonia Yawl Project: Shakedown

After the launch on Sunday I spent a couple days working through the final rigging for the mainsail and getting a few more small daysails in to test the setup properly.

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Mizzen sheet block tied to boomkin

It was a real pleasure to have all the blocks I made fitted and feel like the proportions I chose were appropriate.

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mainsheet dyneema stropped fiddle blocks with cherry cheeks.

It all came together nicely for the maiden shakedown daysail on Wednesday.

under full sail

Everything went quite well except that the centreboard was quite tight in the centreboard well when I tried to lower it. It would appear that the extra layers of paint on top of the graphite epoxy finish might have been a little superfluous and causing me grief.

So I removed the thwart to get the centreboard out the next day and saw exactly where it was a touch too wide.

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centreboard just a little too wide

knowing that these parts are well hidden and have lots of epoxy coats. I sanded down the paint and re-installed it in the centreboard well.

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I’m now ready for the planned first voyage out to go camping in Howe Sound on Friday with the family.

Launching a merry wherry for two

My friends Justin and Anne-Sophie have been working feverishly over the last few weeks to launch their two person Merry Wherry. They named it “Ohé Matelot”.

My daughter was particularly excited to be part of the inaugural launch. She helped roll the boat down from the Grin technologies headquarters down to the water at Hinge island park on the south shore of False Creek.

The most impressive things were the beautiful four part paint scheme of the hull and the LED lights imbedded in the hollow cedar and fir oars.    

 

walking the boat down Ontario street
 
last minute wireing for the oar LED lights
  
Hinge Island park has one of the only beach access points to the water
   

“Ohé Matelot” comes from a French song that all children learn

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Il_était_un_petit_navire

One thing I noticed participating in the launch was that although the sea wall brings people close to the water it keeps us high above the high tide line and in most places separates people from the intertidal zone. Hinge park is one of the few places in False Creek where one has access to the water. I think there is an opportunity to provide more access to the water and opportunities to launch small watercraft on the water’s edge in False Creek.

Starting a new adventure: building a small boat

The idea has been brewing in my mind for many years. I’ve been pondering a way to reconcile my love of simple self propelled travelling with having two young children. I want to be able to share the experiences, while not inoculating them from every wanting to do it again when they are older. So my wandering mind has settled on a plan that will satisfy many requirements.

I would like to build a small wooden sailboat.

  • Seaworthy enough to sail up and down the inside passage from Vancouver to Cortez Island and maybe even up the inside passage up to the Broughton Archipelago or Prince Rupert.
  • Capable of taking my whole family with camping equipment and food for several days
  • Able to sail in light to strong winds
  • Able to be rowed comfortably by one or two people when there is no wind.
  • Capable to accommodate sleeping aboard when in still water with a canvass boom tent and plenty stowage for equipment and food.
  • Beachable, so that people and equipment can easily be brought to shore in remote locations.
  • Can be stored on trailer on land or in the water
  • A small motor well or mount when conditions and distances warrant.

So these parameters in themselves do narrow down the possibilities somewhat. But the key determinants of narrowing it down to a smaller list might be the subjective design qualities. The intangible special sauce that mixes function and form into a beautiful seaworthy sailboat. The final element is one of size, how small is too small for a family of four? Would an open boat on a typically rainy west coast day be too miserable for my family? Does the boat have to have a cabin or could we manage without?

Caledonia Yawl
The Caledonia Yawl sail configuration I chose