Wednesday, March 11, 2009

March 11, 2009 - CAA Meeting - Jane Hall

The Canadian Author's Association, Vancouver Branch held their monthly meeting, chaired tonight by poet, Jean Kay. I've expressed my suspicions about what shifty characters authors are. Well, the proof of this was evident tonight. The RCMP finally sent a spy to keep an eye on the lot of them, especially Bernice. Bernice Lever is an editor. She's kind of a talent scout for publishers and we all know how shady those characters are. Jane Hall was the RCMP woman. Amazing what this world famous force will do to infiltrate an organization. The RCMP clearly figured they needed an authentic author. Jane must have been a volunteer. She admitted tonight that she spent 8 years writing her book, The Red Wall, a woman in the RCMP. She had to spend another year re writing it. It's the first book by an RCMP woman about her time in the force. Creative Non Fiction, she called it. "Like Farley Mowat but I didn't have to chase wolves naked." She was told she said, "If anything I protected people who didn't deserve to be protected" Truth without love is cruelty, said Ben Nuttall-Smith. Married 26 years and mother of 2 boys and 2 girls, her husband, "a classic", was there tonight filming her presentation. She compared the major traditional publishing house offer she'd received where she'd have been a 'small fish in a big pond', to the General Store Publishing House offer in which she co published her book getting the same 10% royalties while sharing 50% cost. In the end she got 50 % profit and kept the right to direct sell which she does at . "I need a new motorcycle," her husband said. They'd both had ridden motorcyles together when they met. "There are 6 themes in the book, but it's really about a social revolution. " "There's murder, arson, rape and the Depot but there's a lot more than that." Short listed for a prestigious writing award, reference read now in universities ,it's already going on to the recommended read list. That's the kind of dedication that goes with the RCMP. 9 years of effort just to get someone into the Canadian Author's Association to keep an eye on things. No doubt, that famous medical writer and CAA member, Patrick Taylor, skipped back to Ireland on a tip the RCMP were following him. With the Red Wall into second printing, Jane Hall is working on a follow up book. My grandmother friend had commissioned me to buy the Red Wall in which Jane's dedication reads. "if we all work together we can 'maintain the right'". The meeting ended with Jane reading an hilarious passage from her book. Sure she's a great author, a great speaker too, but no one's fooling me. The RCMP spared no expense in getting the best to keep an eye on the CAA. Probably she's tasked personally by the Prime Minister to make sure the guts of Canadian culture don't get spilled to the Americans or worse.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Tim McGivney is surveying my Folkes 39.9 foot 13 ton steel hulled cutter today. Last night I was on my boat delighting in the nostalgic feel of a loyal old friend and lover. After years of living on my boat now it's a weekly visit as I wait for the autopilot to be restored and the compression pole supporting the mast to be welded. Thanks to Laura Murray and Eric at Steveston Marina I was put in contact with Tim McGivney this summer on my Satellite phone when a thousand miles from Hawaii and 1700 miles from North America the rigging on the mast went slack as the compression pole supporting the mast collapsed. After that the topping lift became the back stay, the boom stayed in the rack and Tim's idea of a Spannish Touriquet around the rest of rigging allowed us to use the main sail to return much as I was using the main sail in this picture coming up the Juan de Fuca. It was taken 10 years ago when I began solo sailing and was returning from my first trip to the open water off the west coast of Vancouver island.
This summer, 34 days at sea, with the rigging problem and loss of autopilot and having to rely on our Hydrovane and hand steering, Tom Kennedy and I were ecstactic to see this bit of Canada appear on the horizon.
In 2005 I'd set sail solo for Hawaii in November and close to where my boat is in the picture I'd been knocked down 3 times in 40 foot seas and over 50 knot winds crossing to get in the lee of Neah Bay in the wake of a passing hurricane. "I'll never forget catching my little scotty dog Stuart by his life jacket as he was being washed to sea when the cockpit filed with water and there was that horribly long wait before the boat righted itself that first time. Stuart stayed close by my side pressing his little body against my leg thereafter becoming quite blasse by the third time we were knocked down and the boat lurched and staggered back to upright.
Further south on that journey, I'd escape another hurricane stealing into the Columbia River, hitting bottom crossing the low tide sand bar, but reaching to the safety of Astoria when the hurricane hit the coast and the wind was 50 knots.
In the 25 day passage from San Francisco to Hawaii that winter, with only my scotty dog Stuart and calico cat Angel for crew, I'd only have 3 days of storm while the rest was idyllic. I especially loved losing the winter clothes to sail in shorts, warmth and sunshine, knowing the mates back home were bundled in parkas or rain gear.
Tom and I on this trip back had only a couple of nights of bigger seas and stiffer winds but we had to contend with the mast and steering issues slowing our speed. Listening to the Pacific Sea Farers Hamm Radio net we heard another boat had hit a whale and were glad to keep our own problems.
Landing in Victoria and having sailors hamburgers at the Empress was both relief and joy. Now I'm restoring the boat after passage and looking forward to summer sailing the spectacular British Columbia coast after sailing the Hawaian Islands. Thanks to Tim McGivney whose help has already been indispensable I'll know what has to be done before I do any more passages. Nothing like a good survey to indicate a boat's strengths and weaknesses and where and often even how best to begin the work

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Home in Vancouver

We're home. That's Tom and me with the GIRI in Vancouver. The Giri picture is of her in Victoria where we cleared Customs. The tuna I caught before we reached Juan de Fuca and we were glad for barbecue and fish soups in the home stretch. The sailing picture shows us in English Bay with Vancouver ahead of us. We'd arrived in Victoria at dawn and left that same evening missing the closing of the fuel dock so stopping the last morning in Ganges marina to fuel up. To our surprise we'd only used about 60 gallons on the journey and had some 40 gallons left in the tanks. Thanks to Graeme for keeping this site going. I'd planned to email him each day and have him just post my emails but we never did get the software and modem to work with the radio. Thanks for passing on the sat phone messages I made to family. Tom and I were glad for that as we didn't want our elderly dad's to be reassured we weren't vying for a Darwin award. It certainly was a concern when the mast broke settling 2 inches so that the stays were no longer providing tension to keep it upright and the wind was blowing 30 plus knots. We got the sails down and Tom jumped to using the topping lift for backstay. I phoned my friend Laura to call Folkes but they'd since gone out of business. Instead she called Eric at Steveston Marina who she knows from Bluewater Cruising Association. He gave us his surveyor friend Tim's number who we called and discussed our problem with. Tim was terrific recommending Spanish Turnbuckles and just generally being serving as a sounding board. We weren't making much distance for those 2 days but with resolve we headed on and became more confident and again began to progress. As our one bladder of water with 50 gallons was lost when a patch chafed off we'd used up the other 50 gallon tank and were dependent on our watermaker which of course began to squawk complainingly. The instructions insisted we use 'silicone' grease which we didn't have after a minute search of the boat I turned up a tube of 'silicone grease' which had come with my underwater camera housing. So we now had water. We'd bought all the island stock of Reed's Gingerale so hadn't worried about drinking fluid as the boat veriably clinked with my favourite sailing drink. With the galley pump we had saltwater for dishes and cooking. It was just this psychological addition to our other problems and we were seriously asking ourselves whether we should turn back with mast broken, autopilot defunk, damage to the hydraulic steering lines, watermaker problems and just a lot of other uncertainties about equipment. We decided to go on and slowly we overcame obstacle after obstacle. A partially displaced regulator wire turned out to explain the poor charging with the alternator. But by that time the Four Winds wind generator was producing power thanks to Tom soldering a broken brush. I'd turned up all the soldering equipment for the task only to find we'd no more rosin. That's when Tom figured on the rosin from his violin case. When the engine died I was glad it only took my changing fuel filters to solve that problem but until as with each of these 'events/challenges/moments - choose your own word" our hearts were beating faster until the problem was solved. The marine environment is harsh on equipment and things do break down and maintenance is required. I kept all the tools and all the spares and all the installation and maintenance manuals on the boat and we were thankful too that we could get advice through radio or phone. By radio we had contact with Alfred on Waterhoen who was getting weatherfax and able to advise us about the weather ahead the couple of days when propagation was such we couldn't get the daily SSB weather. In the midst of our own concerns which got less and less as each challenge was mastered we listened on the Pacific Sea farer's Net as another boat called in after hitting a whale. We were glad we didn't have his problems that night though whale and boat and crew all did well. We were well provisioned and while my stews and soups were well enjoyed Tom made bread and pizzas that could easily compete in any galley cook off. There was a minimum of whining though I won't say I didn't express some self pity when the engine overheated in Juan de Fuca and Tom was somewhat graphic about the wind and wave conditions off Race Rocks as we turned in for Victoria. What we'd suffered stoically at sea was not tolerated so close to our destination. At the customs dock in Victoria we really did have trouble walking and we were equally glad that no one was awake to process us leaving us to get some much needed sleep at dockside where the world wasn't moving and safety was far more assured. The world got busy too with so much activity. When we got to Vancouver we found there to be simply too much stimulation. Lights and cars and people and the fireworks crowds were overwhelming. What a shift from a month with nothing to see for miles and the world reduced to a boat. And yes we loved the showers. What a blessing, endless water. When Louis caught hold of the line Tom threw him at the dock in Vancouver and the two of them secured the boat it was with great relief I turned of the engine and stepped ashore, thanking the Lord for another safe passage. Awesome!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Home Stretch

Sailing is going well, the repairs they rigged are holding up and should last until they get back home. The good news is they can now motor home if they have to (enough fuel on board). On Sunday they were 750 miles from Victoria and covered an average of 75 miles a day more or less depending on the winds. Meals are still enjoyable - roast and home made dumplings. If all goes well we should see the sailors home in port around the 22nd of July.

They are getting closer and closer to home.

Update - today puts them about 550km from home.

If you click on the little marker you get his coordinates and other info.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Heading East with Partial Sails

Friday they had lost there auto steering due to a freighter coming at them head on Thursday night. Tom was able to avoid a collision by turning the wheel hard it caused the auto steer to break but they can still steer the boat manually. They were in full sail, could see San Diego on horizon a ways off. Eating fresh fruit and vegetables still, and barbecuing steaks so all was good.

Bill called this morning (Tuesday July 1st) the mast has broken away from the keil and only have one small sail up just poking along not making much headway. A call has gone out to Folkes Manufacturing in the morning and ask them for advice regarding a solution to this problem in hopes they can help advise a rigging system for the GIRI.

The water maker has broken down so Tom is working on that, Bill has a message for his dad - will be moving to Saskatchewan living on land no water or boat going to return to prairie (HA)!

This too shall pass! They are heading for coast and will stop wherever they first land to get boat fixed. For now slowly but surely.......tedious! Bill expects return home to be another 2 to 3 weeks.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Radio is Working

They got their radio working, turns out they were trying to use the old broken microphone instead of the new one that they had just bought. DUH!

So now they report their location to at 5PM each day.
I'm (Graeme) no nautical expert but doesn't 3POB mean 3 people on board? (2 People and a Cat)

UTC: 24/06/2008 04:00:00
Position: 26°43'N 156°37'W
Course: 340 (°T) Speed: 4.0 (kts)

You can see their position on a map here.