As is our tradition, we plan a group campsite booking at Saysutchun once a summer, either on Canada day or Labour day long weekend.
This year we chose to kick off the summer season with camping at Saysutchun. The weather forecast was solid and amazingly we had a South Easterly forecast for Thursday.
My sister was my crew and the rest of the family took the bus and ferry over. Our plan was to meet up with my friend Justin on Shamrock in the strait as he was leaving from mosquito Creek marina in Burrard inlet. We indeed had a good SE from Vancouver to Newcastle for 2/3 of the way and and even put in a couple reefs for the early part of the crossing. The last 10 miles were light for which I used my electric motor. We found Shamrock which is a 26′ keel boat with a much smaller sail area to whetted surface ratio than An Aod Oolichan. The had at times used over 1000W on their electric motor to motor sail to keep up with us. Along the way we were treated by a nice visit of Humpback whales with whale watching boat in tow. Total trip time 8h55 min .
We had a wonderful stay on the island and I kept the boat anchored at Brownie Bay. Except on the eve of the departure I moved it to the docks so that we could leave even at low tide and it was easier to load the boat.
However the way back for my brother in law and I on Monday had a strong wind warning of NW winds against tide from 11:30am onwards. So I stayed an extra night and set out at 10am on Tuesday in 18-23 knots with all three reefs in the main. It was a beat in short chop to get around the north end of Gabriola, but after that we had a fun broad reach to Vancouver. Half the time it was wind with a falling tide. With the swell we started to surf and peak on these boats should be going. The rest of the time we were cruising at 5.5 to 6 knots until the wind died and we had to shake out all the reefs.
I just motored for 45min and caught the thermal at the entrance to Burrard inlet and sailed all the way in. Total trip time 7h05 minutes.
It is a big exposed crossing and so far the wind has slackened somewhere along the way. It is nice to know the boats can do it but I certainly want to continue to respect the strait. I’d much rather sail for 3 to 4 hours and get somewhere fun to shake out the legs. My kids are not really into the super long crossings either. So the next trips will be looking for shorter legs and changing up the camping locations.
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.
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.
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.