Tag Archives: Howe Sound

Sizzling September

It’s been a weird summer in the Lower Mainland.

But forget all that.  September is smokin’.

Record high temperatures, and sun sun sun.

EB and I finally managed to get away for a few hours on the boat this afternoon. Most of the homeward bound sailboats were motoring up the Sound back to Vancouver, but we had a leisurely sail in the light southerly coming in from the Straight.

Howe Sound in all its glory.

 

Perfect Gift for Your Scuba Diving Friend(s)

Here’s the deal:

I’ve been doing some work with Sea Dragon Charters over the last few months, and I’ve got a limited number of gift certificates available for scuba dive trips in Howe Sound.

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If there’s someone in your circle of family or friends who dives, this is a perfect gift.

Each gift certificate is for 1 person/2 dives aboard Sea Dragon, and includes filling their tank after the 1st dive so they don’t need to bring (or rent) 2 tanks.
Each dive trip is customized to the experience of the divers, and the location(s) in Howe Sound are determined on the dive day.

Each gift certificate is $ 99.00 Canadian.  You save on all taxes.

Buy in packets of 2 and save an additional 25%
That’s a 2 pack for $148.50

You don’t have to commit to a date, the recipient can book their dive at a date that’s convenient for them, based on availability on that date.  Gift certificates must be used before August 31, 2010.  Divers need to bring (or rent) their own equipment as the dive charter does not include scuba dive gear.

You’ll get a personalized gift certificate, custom printed with the name of the recipient(s).

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email me if you’re interested  info@bigsnit.com

And you can read more about The Sea Dragon on their website.

-Robert Ouimet

Bears With Me

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All summer we’ve been planning a combined camping/sailing weekend with some friends of ours who are hard-core campers. They’d heard me talk about Plumper Cove Marine Park where I spent many a weekend this summer on Madsu.

Their family of five walked on the Langdale ferry at Horseshoe Bay, then took the water taxi to Keats Landing, then hiked in to the campground at Plumper Cove. While they were doing that, we sailed to Keats from Horseshoe Bay aboard Madsu.

One of the things our friends asked about were bears.  I told them not to worry, no bears on Keats, so they left their bear proofing gear (mostly food cache ropes/bags) at home.

We had a fabulous Saturday afternoon playing in the water – the cove really warms up in the Sunshine and it’s a treat to be able to spend hours and hours swimming in the sea in September in BC.

Sunday morning as we shared a cup of coffee at our friend’s campsite, the parks people came over to inform us that, in fact, a bear swam over from the mainland and was at that moment cruising the beach behind the campsite.

Much excitement ensued, including packing up all the food and bringing it down to the boat.

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We left around noon, knowing that our friends, now without a speck of food, would be safe from even the hungriest black bear.  And we left Dane and the rest of the parks crew to deal with the interloper.

There was a decent inflow up Collingwood Channel, so we had a spirited broad reach in Howe Sound once we reached the channel, and it held up pretty much to all the way to Hood Point off Bowen Island.

Back on the dock at Horseshoe Bay, I was surprised to get quized about ‘the Keats bear’ by our friends on Sea Dragon.

Apparently there had been lots of VHF radio chatter about the bear, mostly warning boats anchored to keep a watch out if they were rowing to shore.

Through some bizarre alignment of planets, our friends arrived just as I was washing the boat down. They’d taken the water taxi from Keats back to Gibsons Landing, then taken a transit bus to the Landgale Ferry terminal, arriving at Horseshoe Bay just in time to catch up with us.

They fetched their car from the parkade and picked up their gear, and we all went to our respective homes to shower and tell tall tales about the bear we never even saw.

Once settled at home, I went out to dump some garbage in our big green bin, when I got a bit of a surprise.  Since we’re in bear country here on the north shore, we keep our garbage bin inside a shed.  While we were gone, a bear came by and did his/her best to try to rip the door right of the shed in hopes of getting at the bin.

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The bear would have been successful too, had we not started using a piece of pipe, New York apartment style, to jam the door closed.  We’ve had the odd bear claw marks on the shed door before, but never a concerted demolition attempt.
Time for me to do a little work shoring up the door.  From the Bear Aware web site:

The rule of thumb is that if it can be dismantled using a crowbar then it is not bear proof.

All this just reminds me of how large our (by that I mean HUMAN) impact is on wildlife.

There is nothing at all unusual, at least for a bear,  about a bear swimming over to Keats Island.  It’s only an event because we’re there, totally unprepared.

Back at my place, the bear should be munching on the wild berries in the ravine behind the house, or even the apples and pears growing in my front yard.  Instead, these natural foods are ignored, in favour of human garbage, a meal residents readily provide, because its too inconvenient for us NOT to.

Go With The Flow

Howe Sound is a true delight at this time of year, as daytime heating affects the air flow up the narrow sound.20090519_howesound

The pattern lately has been outflow (northerly) winds in the morning, with the wind going light near noon, then a complete reversal in the afternoon to an inflow (southerly) building through the afternoon.

Over the long weekend it was almost like clockwork – on both Friday and Saturday I managed to sail downwind for a few hours, only to turn around and sail downwind home.

I’ve been getting lots of use out of my North Sails G-3 gennaker (cruising chute). I’m getting a lot faster setting the running rigging for the sail, so I’m using it a lot more.

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On Friday I spent most of the morning getting my gybes down.

I had a distinct lack of confidence with the inside gybe – that’s where the clew passes ahead of the forestay but inside the tack, rather than bringing the clew all the way forward and around the tack. I know the theory but just couldn’t seem to get the sail around cleanly – a lot of it is timing.

The G-3 is very forgiving – fortunate for me – but after 4 or 5 ‘proper’ gybes I finally got the hang of it and now feel a lot better about having to do them quickly or in heavier air. The sail is so much fun to use, partly because Madsu behaves like a completely different boat off the wind when I’m using the cruising chute.

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On Sunday the whole family was on board to enjoy the sun. We broad-reached north with the gennaker, then doused the chute and hoisted the 150 genoa for a leisurely beat home.

The wind piped up to about 15 knots and we had a fabulous trip home.

On a starboard tack with no-one below us, we cruised home at a lively 5 knots without a single tack. The only time I touched the jib sheet was to douse it when we arrived at Horseshoe Bay !
View Madsu in Howe Sound on Sunday in a larger map

Mothers Day Sail

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EB and I spent a fabulous day sailing Howe Sound – my rather lame mother’s day gift to her.

The sound was picture perfect, with some high thin overcast causing a slight ring around the sun.

There was a sweet inflow that had us humming at 5.5 to 6 knots to weather, with Madsu right in the slot the boat was made for, heeled between 15 and 20 degrees, the 150 genoa driving us to weather with a nice steady motion through the chop.

We beat for about an hour and a half or so, tacking to follow the wind shifts, with hardly any traffic.  Lots of harbour seals were popping up so the feeding must be good.

On the way back I ran dead downwind for quite a long time, my back to the pushpit and my feet up.  I was pretty close to nodding off, as it warmed up considerably as was ran wing on wing.  Great was to spend the day.

Sailing with a Porpoise

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The boys and I had an awesome day sailing in Howe Sound.

The overcast sky occasionally spit out of a few drops, but we managed to avoid the real rain until we got back to the dock around 4pm, pure luck that one.

The wind was a steady inflow with some lovely gusts that put Madsu’s rail down a few times – I kept debating whether to reef the main as I’d already gone to a smaller jib, but the puffs didn’t materialize into anything. We kept a steady 5 knots to windward with maybe 3 other sailboats in sight the entire afternoon.

On the way back, while beam reaching, two Dall’s porpoises surfaced twice off the port beam while we were on starboard tack. They were tracking straight towards the beam, and I’m pretty sure they went straight under the boat. They’re always a thrill to see and I headed up hoping they’d come and ride the bow wave, but they went on their way and we didn’t see them again.

Just as we tied Madsu up in her slip at Sewell’s, the rain started, and we managed to pack up and head home before getting too wet (for once).

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The Ducks Were Having None of It

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I was stealthy, but to no avail.

I thought I’d sneak up and get some photos, and even though I was all silent-running-like, the ducks were on to me.

The day threatened to turn from grey to drizzle, but never did. Madsu hummed along on a steady outflow in Howe Sound.

It’s always a delight to balance the boat – then set the tiller extender into the lock box and head up to the foredeck while Madsu sails herself

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Sitting on the foredeck, I’m quickly reminded that it’s April. The wind blowing down from the local mountains, through Howe Sound, is chilly. It’s not surprising considering how much snow is still up there. Even in the height of summer, the catabatic winds in Howe Sound can be cold. I’m in shorts but I wish I’d brought my toque.

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The new rope clutches and deck organizers I installed have worked out even better than I’d hope for. The double Spinlock clutches fit the cabin top just right. (Oddly, even though they are doubles, the drill template that came with them was for a single – and useless)

I like their size and mechanism, and Steveston Marine gave me a better than advertised price on them after I did some comparison shopping online.

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The line organizers were a bit of a struggle. Almost everything I looked at was much too big to fit just forward of the pop-top. I finally settled on some simple aluminum doubles from Barton. I made a bit of a mess with the sealant when I installed them, but I should be able to clean it up ok.

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It may not be warm, but it’s not raining. BC’s got some mighty impressive shades of grey when the sun isn’t shining.

Madsu’s sailing herself nicely on a close reach.

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It’s great to be out sailing again.

Even if I didn’t have much luck with the ducks.

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A World Above the Fog

Vancouver woke up to another fog-bound day. At our elevation in North Vancouver, the fog wasn’t too thick, but as I drove down the 200 metres or so to the freeway, it thickened considerably.

After turning up the Cypress Bowl road it became apparent very quickly that it was blue skies all the way. Just as Snowboard Expert had noted earlier in the week, things up top were the exact opposite of down in the city.

For one, the sun was shining brilliantly. For two – it was a lot warmer up there. In fact, as I rode the lift this morning, I could feel the temperature rising. A classic weather inversion (not really a pineapple express – there’s little or no wind).

By 10 this morning it was plus 6 celsius – and heading to 10 or 11 for the day. Back at my house in North Vancouver, the temperature stayed steady at around freezing most of the morning.

At the top of Black Mountain, I had to unzip my jacket – 3 guys went by me in t-shirts.

I grabbed a shot with my point-n-shoot (I don’t bring my Nikon to the hill) of downtown Vancouver poking its head above the blanket of fog. Interesting aspect of Vancouver you don’t see very often. (click for a full frame version)

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Over in the other direction, Howe Sound is draped in a huge blanket of fog

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So, if you’re feeling hemmed in by the fog, head UP UP UP to where the sun’s shining.

How Long Is Summer ?

The answer is simple.

Cruising with Madsu on a typical BC summer day.

It’s possible it gets better than this, but I doubt it

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A little reminder of what to expect (again) in just a few months.  And really just an excuse for me to futz with Final Cut Studio 2 which arrived this week.

August Full Moon Sail

When I put Madsu in the water this spring, I challenged myself to get in as many full moon sails as I could this summer.

The weather has been super cooperative – with another clear night last night (August 16th) for my third full moon sail this summer (see June and July).

It was one of the hottest days of the summer and I’d hoped for a nice offshore breeze once the sun went down, but no luck – just a few puffs off the bluffs at Whytecliff Park. So, I didn’t get as much sailing in as past full moon nights, but it was still inspiring to see that huge orb slow rise over the West Van hills.

Perhaps as a way of making up for the lack of wind, there was a wonderful sunset. The sky over Bowen Island turned crimson and reflected back on Madsu’s wake. Nice. Also out and getting an eye full was the massive motor yacht Nova Spirit which passed me inbound to Vancouver.

Now if I could just figure out how to do a long exposure on a moving boat, maybe I could get an actual shot of the moon…

Moonlight Sail with Bella and Aron

Garnet and I were lucky enough to be joined by Aron and Bella on our FullMoon Sail last Friday night.

I got a bit of video footage – fun night. Sorry the video’s so dark but it WAS already quite dark (it’s gonna get darker), and I left the good camera on dry land…

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July Full Moon Sail

We had an incredible night sailing under the full moon last night (18th July).

Despite a morning of cloud cover, the afternoon cleared up and we had a completely clear sky for our night sail. We left Sewell’s around 9:00 and there was a lovely 10-12 knot inflow wind.

We had a couple of guests with us, and even though they were novice sailors they did amazingly well. In fact, I put AB on the tiller most of the night and within a few minutes he was sailing the tell-tales like a pro. We were doing between 5 and 5.5 knots to weather thanks to just a light chop.   (a short video here)

By the time the moon made it over the West Van hills it was close to 10 pm and we sailed by the light of the moon for another hour and a half before heading back. We did see one complete idiot (a sailboat I might add) with no running lights making way to Bowen – crazy. Otherwise, just the usual ferry traffic and one big barge with tow.

There’s nothing quite like the magic of a full moon night under sail. Hope we get as lucky in August !

Mannion Bay Lunch Hook

Sometimes things just line up right.

Pushing aside the fear I may be turning into a big softie, I’ll just go ahead and say it. We had an incredible, magic day on the water.

Madsu is ship-shape after a spring of upgrades/fixes and it’s a real pleasure to see and feel the difference every time we go out.

Today, MB came along (my oldest son) and our friend’s daughter who’s interested in sailing.

We took off from Sewell’s Marina in Horseshoe Bay around 11:30, and at 1:30 we were comfortably on the hook in Mannion Bay on Bowen Island.

(click the image for a large panorama shot from the cockpit)

The bay is pretty deep (a few hundred feet) until you get close in then in drops rapidly. We anchored in about 30 feet of water near a lot of other boats on mooring bouys.

The local Canada Geese were out in full force, with a honking and chirping family paying us a visit within minutes of us setting the hook. Looking for handouts, they stayed a while then moved on to check out a more generous group of visitors. I don’t know how long the immature geese stay with their parents, but this bunch looked not quite ready to take off on their own.

MB fired up the Sea-B-Q and we had some delicious hot dogs, sitting in the sun enjoying what has to be British Columbia’s greatest asset; itself.

The sail back was incredible – we close-reached across in about half-an-hour, never dropping below 5.5 knots the entire way over. Again, those new North Sails are keeping us smiling every minute under way.

Fathers’ Day Perfect

I’m a dad and I don’t really make a big deal, or expect a big deal on Father’s Day.

My two sons and I spent the day sailing on a picture perfect BC day, and I must say it was the best Fathers’ Day ever.

Another great day on the water with a steady 10 – 12 knots inflow wind in Howe Sound. We hoisted the main and didn’t even bother with the jib.

We made great time on a close reach over to Bowen Island. Passing a gaggle of kayakers we did a quick tour around Manion Bay, gybed, and scooted back across on a reciprocal course.

There were loads of sail boats heading over from the mainland to Snug Cove perhaps for a late Fathers’ Day lunch. Hope their day was as fun as mine.

thanks boys.

Friday the 13th Sail

Managed to get through another Friday the 13th without incident.  To celebrate, we ordered some pizza and headed down to the boat for an evening sail.

It was a beautiful evening, and we zipped over to Bowen Island and back in no time at all.  EB was on the helm and managed to top 6 knots smg at one point.

We managed to see all three ferries – Bowen, Langdale and Nanaimo – and even though I’ve been sailing out here for years I still like the sight of a ferry steaming by like we’re standing still.  It sparks memories of every single ferry ride across the Straight when I was on the inside,  looking longingly out at boats under sail, wishing I was there, too.

We met more of our moorage neighbours when we returned to Sewell’s, including the folks right next to us who were heading out for the weekend.