On Wednesday night, we anchored behind Secret Island in a very well protected small cove. Secret Island was said to have been a secret gift from one of Marilyn Monroe’s lovers to her right before she moved onto Joe Dimaggio. The island is full of small homes with long stairs that lead to private docks.
The larger island the forms the other side of the cove, Prevost Island is owned and farmed by a single family. We watched cows graze on clover near the water.
One other boat, single handed, arrived for the night. We spoke with the man aboard. The boat was a traditional heavy displacement cutter rig with trim-tab self-steering and an enormous red wind vane.
As we were leaving Thursday morning, we watched him raise and lower his anchor with an extra attached smaller line. He explained he was calibrating his windlass, which reports how much anchor chain he has released.
Earlier that morning, I replaced the fuel filter between the lift pump and the injection pump. The engine started immediately.
Jennifer predicted that we would motor the entire way, but instead found favorable winds headed in our direction. We raised our main and middle-sized 135% genoa sail and ran wing-and-wing at roughly five knots for the next hour or so. As the wind lessened, we struck the 135 and raised our spinnaker.
Spinnakers (the large colorful sail) are said to be relationship breakers. The can be devils to control, bobbing and weaving like a boxer when the wind picks up and prone to cantankerously wrapping themselves around the forestay to demonstrate their independence. This spinnaker uses what is called a ‘‘sock’’that rides down over the spinnaker from the top of the sail enclosing it in a long tube… the sock.
Dousing and releasing become easier, though flying the spinnaker still requires attention.
Our speed picked up to better than six knots, which is faster than we normally cruise under power, but with changing the filter and bleeding the lines, we had gotten a late start.
Our first major hurdle of the day was a small pass between two islands that we had traversed last year. The goal is travel through these passes at slack water – the interval between flood and ebb, the tide coming in and the tide going out.
After slack, it would be going in our direction, so we could be a little late.
We were late, and as we prepared to stow the spinnaker, the engine again gave trouble starting: a further delay.
We made the decision to cross despite the increased current, and did so.
Caro Babbo is Jennifer’s boat under power. She is always uncertain of her abilities, buy very certain in her decisions.
The channel current peaked at five knots in our direction with whirlpools in the channel and a standing line of white caps on the far side.
As we pushed through the standing waves, Hilary commented with only a little fear, ‘‘I don’t like this.’’ Jennifer assured her it would be over soon. After ten minutes or so it was.
In the Strait of Georgia, which separated us from Vancouver, the wind was steady and from the south. We put up the 170% and sailed on a single tack at five knots. It was a lovely day of sailing.
In Burrard Inlet, outside of Vancouver Harbor, the wind died, blocked by the land surrounding the inlet. Again we brought the engine to life, but by now we had decided to call a diesel mechanic, and called Stem to Stern.
Diane at Stem to Stern said that Ben, who we need to speak with, was away from his desk, and would call us when he returned – I suspect he had left for the day.
Vancouver allows visiting pleasure boats to stay for two weeks in False Creek for free. Dinghies can be left at the ferry docks. It is a beautiful cultural, wealthy city.
After anchoring, we decided to go to the supermarket to get some ice and to buy something to celebrate Jennifer’s double-nickel birthday.
For the first time, we are using an outboard on our dinghy. The dinghy still leaks.
I don’t like using the outboard. Rowing is somehow more fitting with sailing and is nearly my sole source of exercise when we sail. Certainly, the only cardio.
Hilary, Jennifer and I climbed into the dinghy, started the outboard and away we went.
The area is new, monied and populated by young people: young families with small children and singles. The feeling is vibrant, alive and buzzes with the same vibe I had at that time in my life.
Hilary was fascinated by the twelve-foot tall bird statues. We walked to Urban Fare, where we had shopped when we were last here two years ago, bought ice, ice cream and cookies as Jennifer’s chosen birthday dinner.
By Friday morning, I had decided that the engine problem is and always had been air in the fuel lines. Installing a new filter does two things: installs the filter and bleeds the fuel lines. The problem, I decided, was air in the lines not a clogged filter.
When I checked, there was air at the injector pump, but none at the fuel filter. The hose between the two was original and the paint cracked off when I moved that hose.
I replaced the hose, bled the fuel lines and the engine started immediately, as we by now, expected. We were interested to see if it would start when we returned from our outing.
At Granville Island are a few docks where boats can tie up for three hours, ‘‘notify security’’ the sign says. Jennifer went in search of security while Hilary and I finished tying up.
‘‘At this time of year, stay the whole day’’ was the answer, and off we walked to the Vancouver Maritime Museum.
Like Seattle, Vancouver is a city dedicated to access by foot and bicycle. The pedestrian path follows the waterfront and, after twenty minutes or so of walking, leads to the museum. Along the way we passed the Burrard Municipal Marina, where we first saw Caro Babbo covered in green growth with a mussel farm at the water line.
Most of the museum is dedicated to the northwest passage and contains the St. Roch, the first boat to circumnavigate north america. (Times and climates have progressed. A man did it recently in a very beat 30-foot fiberglass sailboat to raise money for charity.)
When we returned to the dock where we had left the dinghy, it had filled with water, as expected. One large boat that had been anchored next to us had returned to the anchorage, and everything else was as we left it.
This is the time to visit Vancouver.
At the boat, the engine started immediately. Did we have solved?
We’d find out the next morning when we left for Gibsons to see some childhood friends of mine from Toronto.