Crooked Cruising in Georgia Strait

Following our travels in Howe Sound we made our way to Smuggler’s Cove. We left Gibson’s in good time, which is a bit of an accomplishment for us! Trystan has decided that he is really enjoying catching up on years of missed sleep and Jerome is, well, a kid so he can sleep till 10am easily if you let him!  Anyway, once we were out past Shoal channel’s shoal we found that we had a pretty great wind. After some experimentation we figured out how to get 6 knots close-hauled and we figured out how to tack a schooner! Aside for landlubbers: A knot is, by definition, one nautical mile per hour. A nautical mile is one minute of latitude or, in the modern definition, it is 1852 meters. It works out to about 11km/hr. Yes, you could walk faster but I can sit and have a coffee instead!

Tacking a schooner is a little different than tacking a standard Marconi too. Landlubbers: Tacking is turning the boat with the front into the wind vs gibing which is turning with your back to the wind. After several tries we found that we need not only to have sufficient forward momentum as with any rig but that if we back the jib and slack the foresail we can get the main to essentially push us through the tack and count on the jib to grab the bow when the main powers out. Actually, it turns out, that with this arrangement we can actually tack with very little forward momentum – which is handy because as the day wore on the wind was disappearing quickly. After a rewarding day of sailing we decided at 16:30 that the winds were getting too light and that if we wanted to get to our destination before bedtime, we’d have to fire up the diesel. So, we motored the rest of the way to Smuggler Cove and arrived just after 6pm. We fed and “insulated” our diabetic doggy on the way into the cove in anticipation of the circus that is anchoring. (Her insulin is due at 18:00) This freed us up to concentrate on finding a spot and getting the anchor set. That’s a good thing because this was the first time that we had to stern-tie Finn. In crowded anchorages it is sometimes neccesary to drop your anchor from the bow and then tie the stern to some immovable object on shore to keep the boat from swinging around with the currents and winds in the anchorage. This allows more boats to use the space without bumping into each other all night. In our metal boat it would be annoying to hear all of the fiberglass boats bumping into us and subsequently sinking!

Our first stern-tie would have made for some pretty funny video footage and I’m sure it was pretty entertaining for the other boaters that were already anchored and well into their “sundowners”. We dropped the anchor too close to shore the first time but before we realized that we had already tied off the stern. We tried pulling up the anchor and using the motor to push us straight out away from shore against the stern tie but couldn’t make it steer into the current that was running perpendicular to our desired course. In the end we put the anchor in the dinghy and rowed it out to where we wanted it and threw it unceremoniously into the ocean! This is called “kedging”. Paddling your anchor out and dropping it where you want it is sometimes used to pull a ship that has run aground and it sounds reasonable in principle but let’s give this a moment of thought… We take our rubber dinghy and drop a 33kg chunk of metal on the floor. Assuming we manage to do this without putting a hole in the bottom of the boat, we start paddling away (with flimsy aluminum and plastic oars) trailing chain behind us that weighs about 1.6lb per foot and is decidedly unenthusiastic about coming along for the ride. Think Sisyphus.

Anyway, we did eventually get it right and our stern tie system that we built with Wayne’s help (thanks Wayne) was very succesful. The anchorage is very pretty and I can imagine that if you didn’t have a dog and did have the window screens finished (we’re working on them!) it would be a very pleasing place. Unfortunately, we do have a dog and she’s getting a little bit fragile in her advancing years, and there are few places to take her ashore for her daily duties. doodies. The anchorage has a lot more mosquitoes than we’re used to as well and because its a bit of a backwater, there is a lot of flotsam and jetsam in the water that makes a less than ideal swimming spot. So, despite the beauty of the place, it turned out to be only an overnight stop and the next morning we struck out accross the Malaspina Strait for Cortes Island!