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.
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.
Laden with food, camping gear and two of my siblings as crew we really felt the boat hold a steady movement.
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.
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.
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.
We started up the electric motor with Protection and Saysutchun islands in sight.
Our welcome party (who had taken BC Ferries) was already there waiting at the campsite.
Once unloaded I took it back out to anchor at Brownie Bay as we camped on the island for the next five days.
Fortunately we arrived and a spot opened up just as we arrived and we were able to launch and park the car for the weekend.
It took us about an hour to load the boats and set up all the rigging. We were off at about 10:15am. Boy was it a good feeling to be on the water and know that everything worked. The car towed nicely, the boat tie-down held the boat well to the trailer, the oars worked and all the other little modification I did over the winter made the launching easier.
The glassy morning conditions meant that we were able to put the ePropulsion 1.0 to the test. Quiet and efficient we glided towards our destination until half way when the early signs of the southerly inflow started a light breeze that pushed us to our Howe Sound Marine trail site.
I was finally able to set up the four 50W solar panels rigged in parallel to the MPPT charge controller providing an output of 170W at 48V to the battery. It was really exciting to see the system creating new autonomy allowing us to plan longer trips without needing to go into town to recharge. The trick is just finding good spots that will stay in the sun for several hours. The next step is to set up the panels on the paddle board and towing it behind us.
The Caledonia Yawl An Aod Oolichan at anchor with the anchor-buddy bungee system that allows for easy retrieval of the boat with a line to shore. I tied them both to the bow so that the mizzen would keep the boat pointed towards the wind and waves.
Our site had several tent pads and a clever composting toilet with a urine separating system that used a conveyor belt to move the solids back while the fluids drained forward. I wonder if this kind of system will become standard practice to replace pit outhouses that more easily contaminate soil and water tables in many camping areas.
Day 2 we did a day trip to another Howe Sound Marine Trail site to the south. We set off at noon and got the full force of the southerly inflow on a sunny day. In January I found that the centreboard had a hard time sliding down… which I chalked up to winter humidity levels, But this time again we found that it was still sticky. So I tipped the boat over and did a full check of the centreboard well. What I found is that the keel slot is a few millimetres narrower than the centreboard well. This means that we were not able to point upwind well and I was forced to use the electric motor for the upwind leg. next week I’ll have to take the centreboard out and tilt the boat over again to file down the keel slot a few mm and epoxy seal and repaint it.
Day 2 picnic spot with another good use of the anchor-buddy
On Sunday we found the forecast of rain had moved forward by a few hours and the taking down of camp and sail home was done in the rain with a beautiful veil of clouds clinging to the mountains around Howe Sound.
Some of the things on my to do list coming out of this trip
Test using shorter oars maybe 9.5′ long. The 11.5′ long oars worked but might be a little long if there are any waves by providing little clearance. They also take up a lot of space onboard.
Open up the centreboard slot 2-3mm so that it does not get stuck even with some sand and grit that is very likely to find itself there after a beaching.
Look at finding a rubber, neoprene or vinyl material to create a centreboard gasket.
Make a hold down cross beam with eyelets for the tie-downs to attach to and hold the boat from bouncing on the trailer.
Paint the name on the boat
Make a boom strop to tie the boom vang to.
Overall a very successful trip start building the habit of regular outings.
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.
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