Smooth Sailing – Docking most nights

This trip is very different than last year’s in many ways.

Until today, we’ve had great sailing – today is very calm despite initial forecasts of 25 to 35 knot winds.

Yesterday we sailed from Nanaimo to Ford’s Cove on Hornby Island. We ran before the wind almost the entire way, averaging something over 6 knots. We’re practiced now. We don’t feel unwarranted risk when do things, and we don’t second guess our decisions.

We ran mostly wing and wing (jib out on one side, mainsail out on the other). When the wind picked up and shifted so that the main would blanket the jib*, we doused the jib (135% Genoa) and sailed at a little less than six knots under main only – we were being lazy, but would arrive at Ford’s Cove at 4pm, which was fine.

When the wind died down, the jib went back up and we sailed until it was time to start the engine to enter the harbor.

Ford’s Cove had very little dock space when we were last here. Boats were docked three deep and many looked derelict.

This time the docks were extended 200 feet and the number of boats had dropped by 60%. Jennifer easily docks and we’re ashore.

We’re docking at every opportunity on this trip. We’re putting off the work of getting Hilary in and out of the dinghy. Hilary climbs  climbs off and on to the dock easily.

The newest floating break water at Ford’s Cove was being ballasted with fresh water when we arrived. The young man on the break water correctly told us there would be no problem staying overnight. There is no way to shore from the floating breakwaters, but they have picnic tables on them, which we saw people use when we here the year before last.

After docking a man my age came by walking two wire haired griffon pointers. When I asked if griffon was spelt Gryphon, he laughed at the joke.

I asked Gary what we should do here. He suggested we go to the pub, which is only open Thursday and Friday nights this time of year, and hear jazz. The kitchen closes 8, the band starts at seven and ends at 10. Gary said they were an excellent jazz band that had been playing together 27 years.

It is a 3km walk along the path to ferry.

We arrived about ten to seven and waited while an elderly couple – Donald was in his 90s, his spouse close to that – paid. Donald spoke to me for a few minutes while his spouse dressed. He was pleasant and joking and told me Sandy was very good and would wait on us.

When Sandy arrived, Jennifer asked for fruit juice for Hilary. Hilary immediately said, ‘‘No, Wine!’’ Sandy looked at Hilary, then Jennifer and said, ‘‘Right, wine. We have wine for you,’’ and brought cranberry juice in a wine glass, which Hilary pronounced wonderful.

We all three had burgers with different sides, and deep fried pickles with a horse radish sauce for the table. There were surprisingly good to drink beer with.

The band was old and tired, and played for themselves: competent but without verve. This wasn’t apparent until they took a break and a young man sat the piano and played jazz. I hadn’t seem him sit down and merely thought to myself ‘‘that old lady can play when she wants to.’’ Instead, the young pianist highlighted the shortcomings of the house band.

The crowd was a mix of all ages and economic strata gauging from their clothing and demeanor. Most people knew each other. It somehow reminded me of the bar in Anatomy of a Murder.

Today, we’re crossing calm water; we’re motoring to Manson’s Landing, and perhaps another night on a dock. Our goal is Campbell River to see some friends and then through Seymour Narrows.

The currents outside of Campbell River are so strong that we must wait a day to get there when the currents are favorable.

I’m afraid to write that nothing is breaking, which is mostly true. The main halyard winch is bending and will need to be replaced. I’ll start to search used marine stores. As mentioned, we’ve bent the stack for the diesel fireplace a bit, which might cause some leaking, but with the dinghy on the deck over it, no water lands on the stack.

One of the stud-style handles on the deck hatch in the V-berth is stripping and will need some repair…all small things to attend to as we travel.

I am supposed to teach myself some new splicing techniques to create another halyard. The messenger line Scott Wilson and I left in the mast might be wrapped around the main halyard, which would mean that I would need to place the new halyard the traditional way by dropping it from the mast head with a weight… well, actually a messenger line is dropped with a weight. When that is successfully fished, the real halyard is pulled through – either up or down.

The dinghy on deck has made a major, major difference. I think we’ve picked up about three-quarters of a knot, and the boat sails and motors better. It is smoother because there is no tug as the dinghy pulls at the painter. The difference is instantly noticeable. It is one of those things that we will never return to.

Any fear of not completing the trip because of Hilary has dissipated. We can do this. She is many steps down from where she was last year and a less agreeable person — paranoia is creeping into the psychosis — but it is nothing that can’t be easily handled. Guests? We’re still thinking about that.

That mainsail is now flaking easier and we’ll be able to put a cover on it. The Genoa is still very bulky, but I think we’re learning about that.

The dinghy on deck, however, greatly decreases the safety forward as I can now be thrown over the life lines. We’ll be working with Jacklines now.

It’s a less fraught trip, relaxed and relaxing. I’m not working as hard at writing but that generally spins itself up.

Hilary has climbed out of bed and into the cockpit to eat grapes. We’ll outfit her with her life vest – ship’s rules everyone wears life vest when out of the main cabin.

A breeze has become apparent and it’s time to post this.

Comment and contact us.


* Yes, could have ‘‘tacked’’ downwind, jibing back and forth, but we were feeling lazing and making good time. We most likely would have needed to reef the main. This was a sound, non-racing decision.

Author: johnjuliano

One-third owner of Caro Babbo, co-captain and in command whenever Caro Babbo is under sail.

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