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!

1 comment:

Eleanor said...

"I think I can..."; the sailor's that did. Skills, ingenuity, and memories aplenty, with ability to share the journey.
Welcome home.