We said farewell to many beloved friends in BC in early September.  We knew that the window was closing for sailing from the BC coast…  Typically the book end for the season is September 15…  We left Sept 17.



In Esquimalt we did the last of our provisioning (thanks Holly!!) And picked up Jocelyn there.  We were then a crew of five.  Next we set off for Port Renfrew.  The plan was to sit there to wait for a favourable weather window to carry on to San Diego.  As it happened, we waited there for 2 days.  Warren came up with an awesome grocery delivery and lent us his computer!!


We left Port Renfrew Sept 21st bound for San Diego.

Pete is a certified HAM in more ways than you can imagine, including with Industry Canada.  With the help of Warren’s computer and mono cord, Pete was able to pull in weather fax info everyday.


The crew morale at this point was quite good.  Seasickness was only moderate…  Kids were getting a bit of gravol (called Dramamine in the US) and Jocelyn and Pete were taking Meclazine, of which I got 200 tablets in the States in late August since it can’t be purchased in Canada anymore (?).


Up until this point Pete has tried everything else for seasickness,; Sea bands, garlic, ginger, Gravol, scopolomine…  Nothing seemed to ever be effective..  Until Meclazine!!  This was a blessing beyond measure.  For both Joss and Pete, the side effects seem to be dry mouth, ear pressure, slight mind fog, but compared to seasickness, much *much* better.


Near Newport, Oregon we learned that the weather was forecast to come up big and strong from the south…  We dicided to wait it out in Newport.


Checking into Newport was straight forward.  While approaching, Neli thought we were going to get to meet the President, since she thought that was who would be the official greeting us, who we were busy preparing for…  Turned out it was Officer Hanna who came.  Happily, he allowed us to keep all of our food stores and provisions which was a good thing since the only grocery store in walking distance was a truck stop like place that sold mostly beef jerky, soft drinks, cigarettes and lotto tickets.

The weather was favourable by September 23 so we set off again.  We knew we wanted to give Cape Mendocino lots of room, since the wind seems to get accelerated there…  We chose to stay 150 nm offshore at that point.  As it was, we still had gale force wind from the north around the latitude of Cape Blanco and Cape Mendocino.  The tow generator was excellent, as was all the equipment actually.  The only issue was that the staysail window blew out since there was such back and forth force on it with rolling in some of the waves with gusts up to 40 knots.

Pete, Joss and I set up a night watch system of 3 hours on, 6 hours off, with Joss taking the first shift til midnight, then Pete when he’d pull in faxes at 01:00 followed by my watch 03:00 to 06:00 and Joss would come on again.  Throughout the day Pete and Joss would get naps as required.  I didn’t seem to nap much although my memory is foggy on that now….

What did the kids do?  Lots of audio books helped.  And movies…  And seeing dolphins :). We had a halfway party when Neli and I made carrot cake muffins with icing and everything, but most people were too seasick at that point to enjoy them…  A few days later though once things calmed down a bit we had a nice evening meal out in the cockpit and got to savor it all a bit.





On October 4 we arrived at San Diego :). We had only used half of our fresh water (~150 L since our capacity is 300L) and we still had about 100L of diesel fuel.  At the police docks which is right beside the customs and immigration docks, we tied up and breathed a big sigh of relief.  We had made it!!!  We did it :).




The Work

So Pete decided he wanted to join the offshore part of the trip.  This meant we’d all be together and this meant changing the crew plans a bit…  Jocelyn was amazingly accommodating, shifting her plans a bit to join us from Victoria to San Diego.  She and Matt even helped us with some work during the haul out at Van Isle marina early September.

The main jobs that needed to be completed before we went offshore were changing the bellows on our dripless seal on our propeller shaft, and putting a barrier coating on our propeller to stop so much growth from attaching there (slowing us down).  These jobs required RTT to be out of the water since the entire prop shaft would need to be removed.  The third job, not completely necessary but definitely useful, was replacing the Wema meter gauge in the holding tank.  This can only be done when the CV joint on the prop shaft is removed.  This would definitely be the time to do this job.  And of course replacing the 2 zincs.

Initially we felt daunted by trying to do all this ourselves…  The costs associated with hiring them out though were prohibitive…  So expensive!!!  So we decided to learn.  The guys at PYI in Washington state were amazing, talking us through various aspects of the job with the bellows.  I was able to talk on the phone, send photos in email and generally feel completely confident that they knew what I was desctibing.  So impressed with their customer service.

We opted for the product Propspeed on the propeller and lower aluminum pieces under the waterline.  It was super simple when just following along like following a recipe.  Not necessary to be done by professionals at all!  Don’t believe the hype!  Some planning and set up were important, that’s all.

We managed to do it all in 3 days.  Not too bad for a couple of hacks :). And thankfully no leaks when we launched.

It was empowering to have completed these jobs as a team.  We saved some money too, which is obviously welcome.  It felt good to get to know our boat more intimately too.  Important confidence booster :).  If you’re thinking of hiring out jobs on your boat, I hope you’ll consider trying to do it yourself next time.  I think you’ll be glad you did.



























Playing catch up

Ahoy friends :). Wow, it’s been a little while…  I can see I’ve got some catching up to do….

We spent summer 2015 in Sidney, BC selling lots of Pete’s bags and generally enjoying the Gulf islands.  Captain Zinc payed a visit, that was at Port Sidney…



Liam played a lot of archery and did a few tournaments.IMG_20150726_164121

Neli and Liam enjoyed sailing camp, drama camp and horse camp.  And the bags did well at the YYJ car free day as well as at the Thursday night Sidney street market.  Later in the summer we got thinking about how Autumn plans would unfold…  At this point we were thinking I’d get RTT to San Diego and Pete and kids would meet me there.  That’s not quite what happened.  More on that next time 😉




Puddle Jump Bags



Dealing with some corrosion…

We are trying to attend to some aspects of Riki Tiki Tavi that need attention from time to time.  One of the issues we face is galvanic corrosion.

When two dissimilar metals are in contact with each other, there is a tendency for electrons to move from one to the other.  In this case salt water is the electrolyte,  the aluminum Lewmar block housing is the anode, and the stainless steel support is the cathode.  The remedy is to separate the metals thereby not allowing them to touch each other, stopping the flow of electrons and hence the corrosion.  Originally this was done with a piece of rubber mat, but over time this began to fail and have small holes, and then let the electrons flow… We found a replacement in our recycling bin.

It looked like this:

the disassembly

So first I took it apart.  Here you can see all the nuts and bolts and also the rubber mat that needs to be replaced.  The white powder is corroded aluminum.

I then cleaned the stainless steel support as well as the hardware and aluminum piece.

bolts before cleaning


looks lke a banana slug toothbrush, to clean bolts


Then came selecting a suitable new separator….  we had an old yogurt container on hand, as well as an empty milk jug.  Good enough.



Next we had to trace where the bolt holes would need to be as well as how large the entire piece needed to be to ensure no touching of stainless with aluminum.


To punch the holes, I used a single hole punch like you’d use for paper.

hole punch

After everything was clean and dry, I liberally applied some Lanocote which helps protect and neutralize corrosion products, should there be some corrosion developing in the future (always seems to be happening).



more lanocote

ensuring proper fit of bolts through plastic

And voila!

almost done

A little trimming and then done 🙂

IMG_20150317_163431 done

I fell in love with Tofino traffic…

IMG_20141117_154940We have new neighbours here in Sidney – a kid boat!!  YAY!!!  As we were hosting our new friends for some tea we all got to reflecting on why we’ve chosen this cruising path.  We’ve had to downsize a lot and sometimes forgo seemingly average luxuries like having a hanging closet, or instant hot water.

By most people’s measures we now live in a state of comfort that is far below average.  By most people’s standards we have less than they think is appropriate.  So what is the pull?  What is it that I find so satisfying?  The answer, I find, can best be articulated by an event from the summer of 2013, the time when I fell in love with Tofino traffic.

We were on the VICE with the Bluewater Cruising Association, returning from the offshore waypoint, maybe still 70 nautical miles from shore.  It was windy, maybe 20 knots from the northwest and we were beam reaching.  I was on watch at night, Pete was asleep.  I looked up and saw our radar reflector had broken off.  I don’t know, I mean it just wasn’t there anymore.  We were in the part of BC waters where many huge ships were converging either entering the Strait of Juan de Fuca or leaving it, heading back the other way across the Pacific Ocean.  We needed to be on our toes to avoid collisions.  I went down below to check the AIS (Automatic Identification System) to see what was coming our way.  The AIS is amazing, I can see lots of info on the approaching ship like it’s name, home port, destination, speed over the ground, course over the ground, etc.  We only have a receiver, not a transponder so they couldn’t see us.  There was a target the AIS calculated was on a collision course with us, CPA (closest point of approach) 10 ft!  Yikes!  That’s ok though, I thought.  I’d just call them on the radio to make sure they saw us and we wouldn’t have to change course.  We were the stand-on vessel.  No response.  I tried again.  Nothing.  Time was ticking, we were getting closer.

Airports have air traffic control towers.  Busy shipping areas have something similar, and in this part of the world it is called Tofino traffic.  They communicate on VHF channel 74.  I gave them a call:  “We are a little sailboat at position…. at a speed of…  We’ve lost our radar reflector and I think we’re on a collision course with ship “X” and they’re not responding.  Can you help us?”  Their response?  “Absolutely.  We’ll call them.”  And they did.  And then ship “X” called us and together we ensured that there would be no collision. But that’s not all.  Tofino traffic put us in their computer system to ensure that there would be no more close calls that they wouldn’t know about.  They requested that once we got to our destination we let them know so they could take us out of the system, which we did, and when we did so they said “Glad to hear you’ve had a safe journey.  Tofino traffic out.”

So much kindness.  So much concern for everyone’s safety.  So much courtesy.  And that’s when it hit me:  This is what I love about the sailing life.  Out there, 99% of the time, people aren’t the bad guys.  Out there, if in any way one is able to, people help each other.  The most threatening element is not another person, it is the weather, or the waves, or the sea, or a ship or rocks or the boat is sinking, or corrosion, equipment failure, or, or, or…  it’s not an other person though.  Other people are not to be feared out here.  Tofino traffic epitomized that for me at that time.  What a feeling!

Our new neighbours shared that their old neighbours in Vancouver sometimes wouldn’t even speak to them,, they would just drive into their garage and not try to connect at all.  For years.  I feel so heartbroken by that prospect.

But not out on the water.  Not here.  Thank you again, Tofino traffic, for helping us that night and also for helping us keep people in perspective.  Yes, the world can be a dangerous place sometimes, but we are so much safer backing each other up, knowing we can ask for help when we need it and knowing that help will come.  It seems to me that we could all enjoy some more connection in our lives, wherever we are.  Our connections with other people make us stronger, and our hearts warmer.

Reflecting on the summer’s travels

It’s starting to get cold here in Sidney…  the fierce south-easterlies are starting and it’s feeling like we are back at sea although we are securely tied to the dock.  In September, when we made the decision to postpone our Mexico travel plans, all the momentum leading up to that point made it feel like a part of me broke off and carried on, and then for weeks was drifting around somewhere in the Pacific…  I’m now able to safely say that all of me is back together and is able to reflect on the summer’s travels without feeling the sting of longing for traveling…

Firstly, if we haven’t yet said so, Haida Gwaii is very far from here!  It is surprisingly remote.  Beautiful, but very remote.  This might be a trip more suited for adults who enjoy solitude, serenity and sunsets.  Traveling with two young children however, we definitely questioned our choices with them this summer…  there were very few opportunities for them to play with other kids their ages…  there were few opportunities to meet any other people.  Period.  So we had to make our own fun.

Introducing the spinnaker pole swing set:

note the cushion tied to the mast, just in case
note the cushion tied to the mast, just in case

The swing was awesome!  Neli especially loved it and would sing at the top her lungs as she swung up there, back and forth and back and forth….  So much fun!

Here is a link to her in action:

And then there is “Rock, paper, scissors.”  Endless fun with that one, as demonstrated here:

We just had Neli’s birthday party on the weekend.  She was thrilled to be having a waterslide party with many friends.  It was a lot of fun – made us feel thankful for being part of a community full of people we love and who clearly love our children too.  This is the element that we all most missed this summer.  There it is.  I said it.  For those of you who are thinking that the full time cruising life is one extended vacation full of uninterrupted fun times and laughs, well, I hate to be the one to burst your bubble, but all that freedom really means sometimes feeling lonely.  Or bored.  But there is also the opportunity to let that boredom transform into a creative moment.  A creative moment to build happy memories for you and your children… but, full time extended vacation? – it is definitely not.

As I’m writing this, the children are coming down with a cold and aren’t in the mood to get out and play.  They are bundled up in their blankets on the port side settee watching “Charlotte’s web 2”.  Things don’t feel very different from the summer at this moment actually.  Except that it’s a lot colder and rainy now..  oh wait.  The sun’s peeking though.  It might be a sunny day after all.


Grandma comes for a visit!

Yay!  We had an awesome time with my mum.  We rented a car for a few days to get to Masset, Port Clements and Queen Charlotte City.  The older I get, the more I’m able to admire her and see her as a remarkably courageous and loving woman.  For those of you who don’t know, she has only 5% of her vision (so she’s legally blind) and she is 77 years old.  She is a trooper to have come visit us in such a remote place, and she did it all on her own.  It was an epic journey.  And we also are short or space in our boat, but she was remarkably flexible in our mini space.  She says “We all have a choice in life, we can choose to say I can’t or we can choose to say I can.”  I’m glad you choose that you can, Mum.  Your example helps me choose to say I can too…  And I’m so grateful…

arriving in Masset from Prince Rupert


on North Beach between Masset and Tow Hill


walking with Grandma Reen on the beach


walking up Tow Hill
view of Rose Spit from the lookout at Tow Hill


not shy to ask for a helping hand


on the Golden Spruce Trail
mother and daughter farewells


Arrived in Haida Gwaii

on our way to the Spicer Islands

Just wanted to let you know that we have arrived at Haida Gwaii.  We made the trip across Hecate strait on Saturday, July 12th. Got up at 4am (Spicer Islands) to ensure we would arrive in daylight.  All was fine, wind was light, swells were nonexistent… A very comfortable trip.  We are now anchored in Bearskin bay in Queen Charlotte city, which isn’t really a city, population 944.  There is a laundromat though which is good since we haven’t done laundry since port McNeill, a loooong time ago.  The vibe up here is mixed…. I read the books “the golden spruce” and “the raven’s cry” prior to arriving and its left me with some different ideas of Haida culture… It might not have been as wonderful as all the nostalgic hype would have us believe….  It is beautiful here though and will likely seem more beautiful in the Gwaii Haanas park…  We plan to go to Masset  tomorrow with a rental car to pick up my mum, she flies in from Florida and will stay for a week.  After she returns home we will go south into the park and from there head offshore to Tofino.

Pete and the kids are fine.  Neli wishes we were going to the toys r us store more often.  Liam is enjoying fishing and rope work, including being responsible for launching the dinghy once we’re at anchor.  Pete is missing playing music at the church and I think he misses being able to work on sewing the puddlejumpbags…  We will likely have more time for that soon but in the meantime I think he wishes it could be happening now.  We left the suitcase drum set with Serge in Comox… We will be retrieving it when the boat is in Tofino :). He is enjoying his accordion though!

underway through Beaver Passage

I really miss friends and family….  This gypsy life is sometimes lonely….

Pretty awesome scenery though 🙂

fog bank near Skidegate Landing

…and we’re back!

So…  it’s been a while.

We had a good season in Victoria and have decided to keep sailing.  We cast off from our land life May 16th, spent some time in the Gulf Islands, had a haul out in Nanaimo, then went to Princess Louisa inlet, Comox, then the Copeland Islands on our way to Teakerne Arm.  Then it was on to Shoal Bay, East Thurlow Island, then Helmcken Island, then Port McNeill for a provisioning stop.  Then it was on to God’s Pocket to set off to cross Queen Charlotte Strait.  We made that trip yesterday and now we are anchored in Pruth Bay, Calvert Island.  We are currently en route to Haida Gwaii (formerly known as Queen Charlotte Islands).  We’ve a few dock jam opportunities along the way 🙂  Nel and I do more dancing than playing but Pete and Liam play a few instruments…  Fun times!!

I hope to add posts more frequently than once a year…

Cassel Lake, Teakerne Arm
Cassel Lake, Teakerne Arm