Aug/Sept 2017: San Juans, Gulfs, and Victoria Classic Boats

This was our first trip after the installation of the renovated winch was a 12-day trip to the San Juan and Gulf Islands, and to Victoria BC for the Classic Boat Festival.

August 25 (Day 1: Home to Port Townsend)

August 25 (Day 1): an easy ride up to Port Townsend

Our friend Ricardo flew in from the East Coast and his daughter Marcia arrived after driving  the coast from California. We got them settled, did some more provisioning, and headed off to Port Townsend, anchoring in the usual location, just off-shore from Haven Boat Works.

Peter at the helm en route to Port Townsend

We took Ricardo and Marcia into town on the GFB. They spent a few hours wandering around the port town, and then returned for dinner. We tested out a new crab pot in the harbor. No keepers. The next morning, we picked up Esther and Chris who drove over from Marrowstone Island, and headed up north. Wildlife: Bonaparte’s Gulls and Harbor porpoises.

August 26 (Day 2: Port Townsend to Sucia Island).

Our route took us through Rosario Strait, to the east of Orcas Island

Chart of Sucia Island. We anchor in Echo Bay, a little southeast of the CG bouy

Marcia shared her family recipe for Columbian Arepas for breakfast. Excellent; we will add them to our Gyrfalcon menu.


Marcia and Ricardo prepare the arepas

Arepas on the griddle


The weather was excellent, and crossing the Strait of Juan de Fuca was great. Just north of Marrowstone Island, we encountered hundreds of small seabirds. They were too small to be gulls, and held their legs wrong for sandpipers. After studying my bird guides, I determined they were Leach’s Storm Petrels – an unusual sighting for the location (must have been migrating), and a new Life Bird for me!

On the trip across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, we had great views of Mt. Baker on the mainland to the east. Always a good day when one of the mountains is out


View of Mt. Baker from the Strait of Juan de Fuca

When we arrived in Sucia, we deployed the kayaks. There are many narrow harbors on Sucia. Chris and Esther circumnavigated the island and portaged from one bay to another.

Chris and Esther kayaking

Wildlife: Minke whale, sea lion, seals, common murres, marbled murrulets, Heerman’s gulls, Leach’s Storm Petrel.

The Gyrfalcon at anchor with Mt Baker in the background

Marcia returns from a kayaking adventure

August 27 (Day 3: Sucia Island to Stuart Island – Reid Harbor)

August 27 (Day 3: Sucia Island to Stuart Island – Reid Harbor)


Stuart Island. We anchored in Reid Harbor, a bit southeast of the anchor symbol on this chart

Before we departed Sucia, Nancy went for a morning kayak.   It’s the best time for photos–especially animals.

Sunrise on Sucia Island

Seals on Sucia


Today was a fairly short cruise. We arrived in Reid Harbor (one of our favorite anchorages) early in the day. Everyone went kayaking. Marcia decided she wanted to practice her open water swimming skills. Although she swims regularly, Pappa Ricardo wasn’t convinced, so he followed her to shore in a kayak – just in case. We all hiked to the old school house in the center of the island. Ricardo and Marcia got picked up by a ranger who showed them the lighthouse as well.

Esther and Chris chilling on the fantail

Cap Nancy making bread

That night we were treated to two Barred Owls signing duets across the harbor. Wildlife: harlequin ducks, black oystercatcher, pelagic cormorants, pigeon guillemots, seals, least sandpipers, great blue heron, deer mouse, deer, barred owls.


August 28 (Day 4: Reid Harbor to Bedwell Harbor to Sidney Spit to Glenthorne Passage)

August 28 (Day 4: Reid Harbor to Sidney Spit to Secret Harbor)

Sidney Spit and Sidney Harbor. We anchored just north of the western shoulder of the island in the area protected by the spit. You can see the Port of Sidney on Vancouver Island, at the top of the chart.

Chart of Glenthorne Passage. We cruised around the red buoy, past Owl Island, and between Secret and Prevost Islands.

We left Reid Harbor and crossed the Canadian border to the Gulf Islands. Cleared customs at Bedwell Harbor on Pender Island. From there we cruised south to Sidney Island, off the coast of Vancouver Island. Ricardo & Marcia went ashore and hiked along Sidney Spit. Esther & Chris had to leave us to go back to work. Peter took them in the GFB to the ferry dock in Sidney, where they caught the WA State Ferry back to Anacortes, and then worked their way home.

Meanwhile, David and Susan Wisdom flew into Victoria Airport to Sidney. Nancy took the GFB into Sidney to reprovision, then met the Wisdoms at the Port of Sidney marina and brought them back to the Gyrfalcon. After everyone was settled, we cruised up to Prevost Island to Glenthorne Passage (between Secret Island and Prevost), where Curt and Marsha were hosting their annual party. We rafted up to Teal and went to the party where we ate, drank, and caught up with lots of friends.

Ricardo and David relaxing in the salon

August 29 (Day 5: Glenthorne Passage to Genoa Bay)


August 29 (Day 5: Glenthorne Passage to Genoa Bay)


Chart of Genoa Bay. We usually anchor a little south of the G in Genoa on this chart. It seems like each year, we see the same derelict boats just barely floating.

In the morning, Nancy made her special huevos rancheros with chorizo. After breakfast, some of the crew joined the Prevost Island Farm tour, while others of us (who have done the tour in the past) lazed around on the Gyrfalcon (huevos rancheros are filling!)

Huevos rancheros with chorizo

Well-fed Gyrfalcon crew at breakfast

We then cruised to Genoa Bay, and anchored in the center of the quiet harbor. Ricardo and Marcia kayaked ashore and had a great meal at the Genoa Bay Café.

Meanwhile, Susan tackled cleaning the brass stair rail. It looks like the rail tackled her!

Susan admiring her handiwork

She talked David into helping her, and the rail was soon shiny once more.

The Wisdoms earning their keep

Wildlife: Mew gulls, Olympic gulls, Great Blue Heron, Belted Kingfisher


August 30 (Day 6: Genoa Bay to Cadboro Bay)

August 30 (Day 6: Genoa Bay to Cadboro Bay)

We left Genoa Bay in the morning and went looking for deep water. When we found a deep spot with 492 ft of water, we let out all of chain and cable from the drum on the port side of the windlass, and then rewound under tension. This experiment was conducted to make certain that the cable was wound on the drum under proper tension.

Marcia counted revolutions, and Ricardo and David were in supervisory mode

Chain and cable fully deployed – all 900 feet

Rewinding the spool. Peter at the winch control, David on the fairlead, Ricardo continues to supervise, and Marcia observes.

With the anchor back on board, we cruised on to Cadboro Bay on Vancouver Island. We have stayed there several times on our way to the Victoria Boat Festival. It is a popular spot: Teal, Thelonius, Marian II, and Joshua were all nearby. The yacht club holds a weekly regatta on Wednesday nights. They asked if they could put an inflatable Pink Panther on our bow as a race marker. For several hours, we were surrounded by sailboats and slightly inebriated sailors as they tacked around the Gyrfalcon.

Captain Bill from Joshua rowed over in his dinghy with a sprayer of oxalic acid, which he used to clean rust stains on Gyrfalcon. I think he couldn’t stand the site of the unsightly rust on our flanks. It did the trick, and the boat looked much better for her upcoming appearance in Victoria. After the hull was clean, Nancy decided to attack her nemisis – spiders under the coachhouse roof.

Capt. Bill, the Wizard of Oxalic Acid

Gyrfalcon after her beauty treatment – no more rust stains

Nancy dispatched spiders; Ricardo holds the bucket

Hard work like arachnocide requires proper libations


August 31 (Day 7: Cadboro Bay to Victoria Harbor)

August 31 (Day 7: Cadboro Bay to Victoria Harbor)

We sailed around the southern end of Vancouver Island in a convoy of ships headed for the Victoria Classic Boat Festival and arrived in Victoria Harbor in time for the annual docking rodeo. We docked with the rest of the workboats at Ship Point Wharf along with David B, Teal, and a number of smaller fishing boats. We spent the rest of the day preparing for the show.

David cleans the salt spray off the pilothouse windows

Summer Wind came up and docked right behind us. Once again, ASV-79 [E Lester Jones/Summer Wind/] and ASV-80 [Patton/Gyrfalcon] were docked together.


September 1-3 (Days 7-10: Victoria Harbor)

Teal and David B were docked on Float 1, and we were on the linear dock with our bow in the corner. Summer Wind was docked behind us.

The next three days were spent at the Victoria Classic Boat Festival. The boat was open to the public from 10-4, and several thousand people took a tour of the Gyrfalcon. Our neighbors at our home dock, Andy and JoEllen, took the Victoria Clipper from Seattle and spent the weekend on the Gyrfalcon, so we had a full house.

JoEllen has a snack

JoEllen (in her Gyrfalcon t-shirt) and Andy talk with Tami Conrad on the Summer Wind

When kids come aboard at shows, we give them a personalized sticker that declares them Gyrfalcon Captain. Then they get to sit in the captain’s chair and “drive” the Gyrfalcon.

Kids driving the Gyrfalcon

Our crew took turns acting as docents: Ricardo won the prize for making up the most facts about the boat. We attended the cocktail reception and the Awards Dinner. We had asked not to be judged this year (mostly because of the sad state of our bulwarks), but we won Best Liveaboard anyway. One night, our crew took Nancy and me out to dinner to thank us for the trip. After that they went to a local drag bar for music and dancing; we went home to bed.

September 4 (Day 11: Victoria to Port Ludlow)

September 4 (Day 11: Victoria to Port. Ludlow)


The Port Angeles customs dock is just inside the harbor on the lower left. We call customs when we pass the spit, and they meet us at the dock.

The anchorage at Port Ludlow is midway between the marina (marked by a sailboat icon) and the other shore.

We left Victoria early and crossed the Strait to clear customs in Port Angeles. We then sailed along thenorthern border of the Olympic Peninsula, past Port Townsend to Port Ludlow. The converted halibut schooner, Merrie Ellen, was also anchored there. We had toured the boat the year before when it was at Victoria. In the afternoon, Captain John motored over and stayed for dinner. That night the moon was dark red, due to smoke from forest fires.


September 5 (Day 12: Port Ludlow to Ewing Street Moorings)

In the morning, we all went over to the Merrie Ellen, and Captain John gave us a tour. He has done an amazing job on her. We then motored back to Seattle, and found that the small locks were closed.

September 5 (Day 12: Port Ludlow to Ewing Street Moorings)

When we got in the locks, we discovered our friend Gordy (he built the pilot house roof in 2012) in the boat in front of us. Of course he was weating his Gyrfalcon t-shirt!

Gordy in his Gyr Gear

Ricardo enjoying his last day on the Gyrfalcon


We spent 2 hours jockeying for position outside the locks, and then 1 hour locking through, before we made it back to our dock. The sun was still blood red because of the continued fires and smoke. When we got home, we discovered a fine coating of ash on the decks. Andy and JoEllen were there to great us (they had taken the Clipper back on Sunday). Andy had won a high output propane burner at the Festival  auction, and could not wait to try it out.

Andy with his new toy

Ricardo and Marcia headed off by car to Oregon and California, and David and Susan took the train back to Portland. Another fine cruise with good friends was completed.

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The Year of the Winch

Note:  we found some more photos after we had posted this–so if you read this when we first posted, skim through and see the additional photos of the winch project.

The anchor winch on the Gyrfalcon is a major piece of work. Built in 1941, it has been lifting the anchors ever since. The anchors are no toys – each one weighs around 600 pounds. The port anchor has around 100 feet of heavy chain, followed by around 600 feet of steel cable. The starboard anchor has around 900 feet of chain. Both require a large rugged winch.

Winch (and David swabbing the deck)

Originally, the winch was powered by a 110V DC motor. This high-voltage motor developed the amount of torque required to power the winch. Approximately 20 years ago, the DC motor was replaced with hydraulic drive. Other than that, the winch is original (and now 76 years old).

We knew that the winch needed work. There was quite a bit of damage to the base, where the steel had rusted out. When we were renovating the forward stateroom, one of the large nuts on the end of a bolt that fastened the winch to the deck broke off and crashed to the floor of the stateroom , narrowly avoiding taking off the end of my nose, and other assorted body parts. We looked at the ceiling and realized that this was the second bolt to have broken off – the other having happened before we owned the boat. Since the nuts were all that held the winch to the deck, and since there was no way we could lift the anchors without the winch, we decided we needed to have the winch repaired.

When we first purchased the boat, we noticed that there was a plaque on the winch declaring that it had been built by Markey Machinery Company, Inc. in Seattle. Nancy, Historian and Internet Search Engine Extraordinaire, found that the company was still in business. Indeed, Markey has been building winches and other deck machinery since 1907. Nancy sent them an email, asking if they had any information on our winch. They responded by sending her a PDF of the original blueprints for the winch, and let us know that if we ever needed any work done on the winch, they would be able to help.

Original Proposal Letter for the winch – 1940


Markey had kept copies of the original plans

The renovation of the winch was on our radar, but not one of the first things we felt we needed to do. We asked Bob LeCoque, VP at Markey (and their in-house historian) to come out and give us an estimate to renovate our winch. Bob has worked at Markey for 50 years, so he did not work on the winch originally, but he thought it was a good bet that his father (who started at Markey in 1939) probably had. After examining the winch, he sent us an estimate. It was similar to the cost of replacing the winch with a new unit, which would be smaller, and probably a little more efficient, but it just didn’t seem to be in character with the rest of the boat. Nancy and I discussed it, and decided that restoration was the way to go.

Fast forward several years, while we took care of some of the more pressing repairs to the Gyrfalcon. We decided that the winter of 2017 was a good time to have the winch repaired – we were not pulling the boat this season, and the winch work could be done with the boat in the water.

Before the winch could be repaired, there was lot of coordination and preparation. Markey had a flatbed truck that would take the winch to the shop, but we needed a crane to lift the winch from the deck. We arranged with FVO at Fisherman’s Terminal to rent their crane and operator. Before lifting the crane, we took the Gyr over to LUBR (our Seattle home away from home), and had them remove all the remaining nuts, loosen the bolts as much as possible, disconnect the hydraulic lines and disconnect both anchors, so that the crane could be lifted from the deck. Two days before we were scheduled to pull the winch, the crane at FVO went down and we had to reschedule.

When the day finally arrived, we crossed the Ship Canal (FVO is right across from LUBR, and Cpt. Nancy put the Gyr right up against the dock tightly between two other boats (nice job, Nancy). FVO brought the crane out, and thus began a two-hour tug of war between the crane, the winch, and two guys from FVO. Since both of them were around my age, it looked like the winch was going to win. At first, when they applied tension to the winch the entire bow of the boat rose out of the water, but the winch stayed firmly attached. They finally bought out a strong, young guy (I swear his name was Mongo), who brought a heavy sledgehammer, and eventually the three of them convinced the winch to let go of the deck. Once free, it was put on the back of the Markey truck and taken to South Seattle for restoration.  There’s a youtube video of the operation on the Gyrfalcon’s Youtube channel.

Capt. Nancy supervising the removal of the winch at FOV

Guys from FOV working on removing the winch. On the left: Old Guy. On the right: Mongo

The winch clears the deck

Notice the foam insulation that was sprayed in the base, presumably in an attempt to stop leaks.

Deck after the removal of the winch

Over the years, Markey’s business has changed – they now mostly make new winches for large ocean-going tugs and other massive uses. We thought that our winch was pretty damn big – after all it weighs 3 tons – until we went to Markey and saw it in the corner of the shop – it looked like a toy there with the big boys. Unfortunately for us, although Markey was happy to work on our winch, it was always second in line behind the commercial projects, so the work, although of the highest quality, was much slower than we had hoped.

Inside Markey Machinery – Giant lathe


Assessing the winch at the shop

They took the winch apart – down to the individual bolts. Some of the parts were still within the original specifications (within thousandths of an inch), while others showed the signs of age and heavy use. At some point, the anchor must have gotten seriously stuck, since the shaft for the main chain was bent. When the winch was built, it had an automatic drive which moved the fairlead back and forth, so that the cable would wind evenly on the spool. This mechanism had vanished by the time we bought the boat, we decided to have it brought back to life to save the backs of crew members. Several of the parts had to be freshly manufactured.

Pieces and parts of our winch

Drum and mainshaft

The clearances were still within a thousandth of an inch for some parts

For Bob W and other winchophiles, here are some more photos:



The biggest problem was the base of the winch – it was completely rusted and deteriorated. It took Markey quite a while to come up with a plan and make a new base.

Base rusted away

We made regular visits to Markey to view the progress (or lack thereof) and slowly, ever so slowly, the winch came back together. We had hope to have the new winch on the boat by late May, so that we could show it off at the Bell Street Show and then take a cruise up north in late June, but that did not happen. We took the Gyr to Bell Street without a winch (we figured the chances of needing an anchor for that short trip were minimal), and we ended up having to cancel our summer cruise, since we could not get a commitment from Markey. As you can imagine, we were not happy.

During the time that the winch was at Markey, the guys at LUBR fabricated a new wooden base out of purple heart for the winch to sit on, built a new box for the hydraulic controls (the old one was falling apart), and crafted new hydraulic hoses for the updated system.

Gyrfalcon back under a tent

Kim and Joe under the tent

Inside Stateroom 3, where the plate holding the winch previously was attached

The old plate, ready for recycling

Kim dismantling the old controller box for the winch. It was attached to a concrete block base, which had cracked and had been repaired.

Closeup of the controller and its base


Rebuilding the deck support for the winch

A series of photos of the deck support being rebuilt


Every time we’re over at LUBR, we have the opportunity to do some projects that require tools.  We boxed in some remnants of a closet in Stateroom 1, sanded/painted the area previously covered by the old winch backing plate, and varnished the inside of the hatch to Stateroom 3.

I think it plugs in this way

A girl and her sander

New base plate for the hydraulic lines

Base plate after painting

Continue reading

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2016 Winter Trip to the South Sound (December/January 2016/2017)

Our friends from Maryland, John and Ellyn, came out to Seattle for a leisurely weeklong trip on the Gyrfalcon.  There’s nothing quite as relaxing as being in a warm boat on calm seas in the winter in the PNW.  Thanks to John for providing his photos of the trip to supplement mine–I apparently was not focused on photography.

December 24, 2016 (Day 1:  Ewing Street Moorings to Tacoma, Dock Street Marina)

We left the dock at first light, which, in December in the Pacific north-wet, is not very early.  Mains were on at 0800 and we were underway by 0815.  We went through the small locks, and were headed through Shilshole Bay and down south by about 0900.  It was a good day for wildlife viewing as it was very calm and a bit overcast.  We saw seals, belted kingfishers, Barrow’s Goldeneye, common mergansers, and double crested cormorants (or as Peter says, BEKI, BAGE, COME, and DCCO).  In this part of the world, the best birdwatching on the water is in the winter.

We had a pleasant trip down to Tacoma, and docked at A Dock at the Dock Street Marina.

View of Tacoma from our boat

As we pulled the boat in with a spring line, we realized that starboard side about midships was up against the power/utilities pedestal–it was right at the edge of the dock.  The pedestal had broken loose from its base. We felt really bad, until we took a closer look and saw that the pedestal had been repaired numerous times before, and that we had just bent one of the angle brackets used in a previous repair.

While relaxing in the saloon, Ellyn spotted a belted kingfisher on a nearby boat.  It was repeatedly beating its catch on the rail.  None of us had seen that behavior in Kingfishers before. Note–it was overcast and late afternoon, so there wasn’t really enough light to get good photos, but it was a very cool thing seeing this kingfisher behavior.  Here are a few shots as a slide show.

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Peter and John  spent time putting up holiday lights, and Nancy cooked some bread for dinner.

Peter and John putting up lights

The finished products

Fresh baked bread


The lights at night

December 25, 2016 (Day 2:  Tacoma, Dock Street Marina to Filucy Bay)

Years ago, Peter and I had taken a similar South Sound trip (chronicled in the Guillemot blog at  In going through the Tacoma Narrows, we had a total lapse in judgement which resulted in the closest we’ve come to capsizing in a boat.  For years, we have wanted to return to the South Sound, only with better knowledge and judgement.  This was our opportunity.  For many of you not from this area, you may be familiar with the Tacoma Narrows Bridge as Galloping Gertie, a bridge that famously disintegrated because of a harmonic vertical wave motion.  There are some fantastic videos of the collapse, which many of us saw in science or math class:

This day in 2016, the winds and current were calm and the trip under the bridge and through the narrows was uneventful.

Wildlife viewing:   We saw Barrow’s goldeneye, western grebe, horned grebe, common loon, pigeon guillemot, surf scoter, double crested cormorants, pelagic cormorants, red necked phalaropes, bald eagles, (BAGE, WEGR, HOGR, COLO, PIGU, SUSC, DCCO, PECO, RNPH, BAEA), along with a great show by sea lions fishing along the shore, and the usual harbor porpoises and harbor seals.

There were also kite surfers out playing along the shore

December 26, 2016 (Day 3:  Filucy Bay to Swantown Marina in Port of Olympia)


After a very restful night at Filucy Bay, we turned the mains on at 0945, raised the anchor at 0955, and went south through Drayton Passage.  At 1200, we passed Olympia Shoal, and by 1300 we were docked at the Guest Dock at Swantown Marina.  Port side tie, bow in towards shore.

Coming in, the charts, bouys, and GPS display didn’t seem to be lined up.  Although we were in the middle of the channel (according to the buoys), the chart had us right at one edge.

It did not help that our depth finder had decided to take a temporary vacation – and we did not know how deep the channel actually was under our keel.

As in previous days, we saw lots of wildlife:  seals, bald eagles, pelagic and double crested cormorants, surf scoters, common murre, and hooded mergansers.

December 27, 2016 (Day 4:  Docked at Swantown Marina in Port of Olympia)

We went to the capitol building, and took a tour.  We had a great docent–we thought she must have been an elementary school teacher during her working years to be so good at moving people along. We asked her, and she wasn’t – just a very good guide/

Most of the time we just hung around, watching the wildlife:

Male Bufflehead

Male Hooded Merganser


We had some great weather while at the dock:

The wind really picked up on the 27th.  We ended up doubling up on our bowline to spread out the pull.

December 28, 2016 (Day 5:   Swantown Marina in Port of Olympia to Wollochet Bay)


The morning dawned clear after the rainy days in Olympia.  The breeze calmed down a bit, but there were still 10 kt winds at 0900 when we planned to leave.

Female Bufflehead

Female Hooded Merganser


Fortunately the winds were pushing us off the dock, so it was fairly straightforward to maneuver so that we could clear the boat that had docked behind us.  We headed back up the channel, toured Oro Bay, and had a great view of Mt Rainier.  We had sightings of sea lions and Bonaparte’s gulls, among the other usual wildlife sightings.

Peter was excited to use his new sous vide cooker to prepare some steaks.

December 29, 2016 (Day 6:   Wollochet Bay to Quartermaster Harbor, Vashon Island)

The next morning was cloudy but warm.  We raised the anchor about 11 am and headed out during a calm day.  We crossed uneventfully under the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, and headed for Quartermaster Harbor.

During the day, we contacted Chris, our electronics technician, who suggested a cold reboot of the Furuno navigation system. It worked like a charm – apparently the depth-sounder had stopped talking to the rest of the navigation system. It is impressive how addicted we become to our electronic “servants”

This is one of our favorite off-season anchorages.  Quiet, protected, and full of wildlife.  Some of  the highlights were rafts of surf scoters, western grebes, and some porpoises.

John kindly documented the state of our Markey winch, which will be the subject of the next blog.


December 30, 2016 (Day 7:   Quartermaster Harbor, Vashon Island, to Shilshole Marina)

We started early this morning, since we had a bit of a trek and the days are short in the PNW in the winter.  We had a commitment to the Audubon Christmas Bird Count for New Years Eve day, so we needed to make sure we were there on time (more about the bird count later).  We had the genset on by 0730, the mains on shortly after, and were underway by 0820.  We went up the west side of Vashon Island up Colvos Passage.

We docked at the end of I dock at Shilshole by about noon.

Wildlife count for the day:  Harbor seals, harbor porpoises, surf scoters, double crested and pelagic cormorants, western and horned grebes, red throated loons, common mergansers, and glaucous wing gull.

December 31, 2016 (Day 8: Shilshole Marina to Ewing St Moorings) Christmas Bird Count


The birders like to start early.  This particular pelagic bird count is organized by Wayne Palsson and has been going on since at least 2002.  For more about citizen science and the Christmas Bird Count from the audubon society, see the link below.

We were planning on about 8-10 birders.We ended up with twelve. We had the generator on by 0700, and the mains on shortly afterwards.  The birders started arriving at 0700, but it was too dark to leave the dock (for Nancy to see to pilot the boat, and for birders to see the birds).  We ended up casting off at about 0745.


Hardy birders on the Count

This is what the Furuno GPS looked like after the day long observational research (as the VTS system called what we were doing).

You can see how we crossed back and forth through the traffic lanes.  I think we caused some consternation as the VTS folks found our course hard to predict (I did too).

Thanks to the birders who helped bring the Gyrfalcon back through  the locks and into our slip.

It was a fun but very long day.  John, Ellyn, Peter, and I were exhausted.  The next morning, all 4 of us went to the airport to go our separate ways–John and Ellyn back to the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Peter to who knows where, and Nancy back to SF for her last few days at Amgen.

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2016 Trip to Victoria BC (August/September 2016)

For the past several years, we have been going to the San Juan Islands, the Gulf Islands, and Vancouver Island BC during the week ending in Labor Day.  Here’s a high level overview of our route.

We end up in Victoria for the Classic Boat Show. Our guests arrived the day before so we could get an early start:  Paul G. from Michigan, Rob from the tricities area of Washington, and Paul and Erica from West Lafayette, Indiana.

August 27, 2016 (Day 1:  Ewing Street Moorings to Swift’s Bay, Lopez Island)

We left early in the morning to beat summer crowds in the locks.  We went through the small locks about 0800 and headed up the Puget Sound.  We headed east of Lopez Island and up through Thatcher Pass.  About 1630, we arrived in Swift’s Bay.

We used the VTS system on the way north to get more practice.  It was interesting–even though we were way out of the shipping lanes, they followed us and even wanted details about our anchorage and how many shots we had out (a shot is 90 ft of anchor rode).

Shortly after we had found a good spot to anchor in Swift Bay, we got a cell phone all from Bill Scherer. He had seen us come in, and called to offer his dock. I (Peter) demurred, since I was afraid we might be too big for the dock, and we had a good anchorage. We had met Bill and his wife Miguel at LUBR over the past year – they had a ferrocement sailboat there. We had toured each others boat. They had sold the sailboat, and were spending time in their cabin on Lopez.  Small world.

August 28, 2016 (Day 2:  Swift’s Bay, Lopez Island to Reid Harbor, Stuart Island)

The main reason we had anchored in Swift Bay was so we could go and see Ben Harry’s new farm on Lopez. We all jumped in the GFB, went over to Ben’s and got a nice tour.

Heading over to Lopez Island

The Gyrfalcon at anchor in Swift’s Bay

We weighed anchor at 1130 and went west through Harney Channel, through Warp Pass and North Pass.

We had quite a show of orcas right off Speiden Island.

We arrived at Reid Harbor, Stuart Island in the early afternoon.  In the harbor, there   were river otters in the place that we’ve seen them in previous years.  Several of us went kayaking.

August 29, 2016 (Day 3:  Reid Harbor, Stuart Island to Glenthorne Passage, Secret Island)

We started the mains at 0946, and the anchor was up by 1000.  We headed out of Reid Harbor, went through Johns Pass, and cleared customs at Bedwell Harbor at 1144.  By about 1300, we arrived at Secret Island.  This is an annual rendezvous put on by Curt and Marsha–they very generously open their house to neighbors and boating friends, and put on a big potluck dinner.

Deerleap was anchored in the harbor, rafted to Double Eagle.  We anchored a bit west of them, and stern tied to a buoy that they were also stern-tied to, to keep swing to a minimum.  It’s always amusing to see how many opinions there are about anchoring.

A facilitator


A discussion aboard Deerleap

Gyrfalcon GoFast Boat visiting Deerleap


August 30, 2016 (Day 4:  Anchored at Glenthorne Passage, Secret Island)

We spent the day wandering around Secret Island, and taking the GFB over to Ganges, and went crabbing.  The feast put on by Carl and Marsha is always amazing.  We always meet interesting folks and have a great time.  This time we brought some loaves of homemade bread.

Bread hot from the oven

August 31, 2016 (Day 5:  Glenthorne Passage, Secret Island to Cadboro Bay)

We left Glenthorne Passage in mid-morning, and headed over to Sidney Spit, where we day anchored.  We did some kayaking and hiking on the beaches.  At 1420, we weighed anchor and headed over to Cadbury Bay by way of Baynes Channel.  We had never anchored here, but Slim (on Deerleap) and Randy (on Double Eagle) recommended it as a good place to anchor on the day before heading down to Victoria BC for the Wooden Boat Show.  It was a cloudy day, so we got the little ceramic heater out to keep Erica warm.  At the time, we didn’t realize that it was broken.  No wonder she stayed cold.

Erica trying to stay warm

We set out the crab pots, ever hopeful for a good catch.

Profound discussions about something

At some point, we readied Stateroom 3 for additional guests.  We had a double mattress, which we sawed in half with an electric knife to make 2 bunk mattresses.  We were going to have the most guests ever one night in Victoria, so we were getting prepared.

Initial measurements and marking

Cutting the outside layer

Using the electric carving knife to cut the foam (easier said than done with this thick of a mattress)

September 1, 2016 (Day 6: Cadboro Bay to Victoria Harbor)

In the morning, we checked the crab pots.  We had 3 pots, with 45 crabs, and not a single keeper.  Hopefully by next year, they will have grown to legal size.

Rob was bound and determined to learn our standard knots:  clove hitches and bowlines.

We left Cadboro bay about 0930 and followed Deerleap and Double Eagle down to Victoria Harbor.  We had a change of guests at Victoria:  Rob went to join his family at a wedding nearby, and Mom and Bill flew in from Michigan.

We were docked opposite Deerleap, which was a great location.  Here are some photos that Erica took of the harbor, boats, and people.

Gyrfalcon on the left, Deerleap on the right

Gyrfalcon and Deerleap

Overview of the harbor


Here are some photos from an early kayak trip that I (Nancy) took around the dock.


September 2-4, 2016 (Day 7-9: Docked at Victoria Harbor; Sailaround)


We had large crowds through the boat on this weekend.  We also got to visit other boats.  Here are photos from a very impressively organized engine room:






On Sunday afternoon, the show closes for a sailpast.  During this event–crazy as it sounds–most of the boats leave the dock and parade out and around the Oriole of the Canadian Navy, which is the Salute vessel for the sailpast.  HMCS Oriole is the sail training vessel of the Royal Canadian Navy based at CFB Esquimalt in Victoria, British Columbia. She is a sailing ketch, currently the oldest commissioned vessel in the Royal Canadian Navy.  We had never done this before, as I (Nancy) was quite comfortable with docking only once.  However, since Deerleap only had one functional prop, they were not going out, so we (Peter, actually, again pushing the envelope) decided it would be good for me to participate.  We had our guests on board, plus Jo, Jimmy, and Dylan from the Deerleap.

That night, we had many guests on board:  The guests were:  Joan and Bill, Paul and Erica, Paul G, Chunyan Hu  (a colleague of Peter’s from China) and her son Hao.  Paul G was gracious and bunked on one of the new mattresses in the pilothouse. Everyone survived the crowded tenement-like conditions

September 5, 2016 (Day 10:  Victoria Harbor BC to Port Townsend)


We got an early start, because we needed to arrive at Port Angeles between arrivals and departures of the ferry Coho, and we wanted to get to Port Townsend in time to wander around the town.  We turned the mains on at 0610 and departed the harbor just at the break of dawn, 0645, when we could see enough to navigate the harbor.  By 0730, we were passing Constance Bank, and arrived at Port Angeles at 0947.  We had never cleared customs at Port Angeles, and didn’t know anyone else who had done so, so it was a new experience.  We were told to call prior to arrival, and the person who answered the phone took down all the details on the phone as we cruised into the harbor.  There was a bit of a turn getting to the dock, but the dock itself was great–it had real cleats and was plenty long for us (probably about 150 ft long).  Agent Smith came down to the boat and cleared us through–he was obviously an admirer of wooden boats.

Great blue heron

After Port Angeles, we headed east, by McCordy Pt, and around Point Wilson, and anchored in the usual place south of the Boat Haven.  We put down the GFB and most of us headed into town.  We got a great tour in the Northwest Center for Wooden Boat Building; a guy told us all about the mast that they were making for a wooden ship.

September 6, 2016 (Day 11:  Port Townsend to Ewing Street Moorings)


The trip home from PT was uneventful–it was an excellent day.  We had a smooth locking through in the large locks (port tie), then headed up the Ship Canal towards our slip.  We had to stand off for a bit while a gravel barge left Lakeside Industries (a transfer point across the canal from our berth).  We docked, and our guests made their several ways home. Thus ended our 2017 Summer Season.

Bill made a great video of the trip–if you want a flavor of a trip to the Victoria Wooden Boat Show, take a look at his YouTube channel:




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2016 Cruise to the Broughtons Part 3 (July 17-23)

We were heading into our last week aboard the Gyrfalcon.

July 17 (Day 17: East of Eden to Pierre’s at Echo Bay to Simoom Sound)

We spent a leisurely morning in East of Eden, then headed up Fife Passage.  We stopped in Deep Bay (loop in drawing above) to check it out.  Our impression was that it wasn’t as pretty as some of the other locations we had seen.  We headed over towards Echo Bay, and waited for the plane to arrive that was bringing the guests for week 3.  The guests (Jerry and Sue, and Wolfgang and Olga) were arriving on the same plane.  Peter took the GFB in to pick up the guests, and I stayed on the Gyrfalcon.

Our guests got some great photos of their flight over from Pt Hardy.

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Flying over the Broughtons

Gyrfalcon from the air



At the seaplane dock at Pierre’s

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Peter heading in from the Gyrfalcon

After everyone was settled, we headed back to Simoom Sound to our favorite anchorage.

Did we mention gummy bears?  Wolfgang and Olga brought GUMMY BEARS from Germany!  As Jessica knows, I’m (this is Nancy) a Dr. Pepper and granola bar person when coming up to a stressful moment on the boat.  However–gummy bears have an instant sugar rush–thus surpassing granola bars.  I might be hooked!


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Once again in Simoom Sound

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Peter and Nancy kayaking

And a rainbow

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Relaxing on the fantail and enjoying the sights

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Jerry took some nice Rufous Hummingbird photos

And then dinner after a beautiful day.  One new addition to the boat is a table cover (with nonskid on the back) to stop computers, drinks, etc from sliding off the table when underway.

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Table set for dinner

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July 18 (Day 18: Simoom Sound to Carriden Bay)

We spent the morning looking at wildlife.

160718_IMG_1813_SX710 HS.JPG160718_IMG_1808_SX710 HS.JPGThere were about 30 Pacific white-sided dolphins fishing along the shore of MacIntosh Bay.  We drifted around in the GFB and watched them for about an hour.

Olga and Wolfgang went kayaking.

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About 1130, we got the kayaks up and got underway back to Carriden Bay.

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Fish farm near the entrance to Simoom Sound

We knew that we’d need to start back the next day, and the trip to Carriden Bay gave the guests some great vistas.  We also took a trip to Sullivan Bay for a few more provisions and to put gas in the GFB.


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We visited Slim on the MV Deerleap, who was in the next bay, who told us where we might find some shrimp, so Peter and Wolfgang put out traps.

July 19 (Day 19:  Carriden Bay to Lagoon Cove)

Peter and Wolfgang checked the shrimp pot in the morning–4 prawn total.  Good enough maybe for an appetizer.

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That morning, we headed out at about 1100.

Like other guests before him, Wolfgang had a favorite location–right in the pilot house, to the port or starboard side of the captain, always standing.  It was great to have him aboard–he has thought a great deal about systems, and gave us some really good ideas to mull over.  He and Olga had traveled all over the world in a sailboat with 2 young kids, so he was definitely knowledgeable.

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We needed to be close enough to Seymour Narrows in order to arrive at slack tide, just like on the trip up.  We traveled out Wells Passage, west of Polkinghorne Islets, through Salmon Channel.  We entered Spring Passage between Sedge and House Islets, and then went through Night Inlet and into Lagoon Cove.  We anchored about in the middle.  It was a quiet and pleasant anchorage.  Wolfgang and Peter put out the crab pots.

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July 20 (Day 20:  Lagoon Cove to Campbell River Fisherman’s Wharf, Dock C)

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Morning in Lagoon Cove

In the morning, Peter and Wolfgang checked the crab pots:  success!  We would not go hungry after all.  At about 0900, we started the mains and aux, weighed anchor, and left Lagoon Cove.  We retraced our steps, heading through Chatham Channel, and down Johnstone and Discovery Passages through Seymour Narrows.  Here are some images of the day.  I also made a YouTube video for the day–see link at end of the this day’s photos.

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Some land for sale near Lagoon Cove

We were a little early for Chatham Channel, so we checked out some of the small harbors near the westernmost part of the Channel.  When it was time, Peter took us through Chatham Channel.  It’s a narrow passage, and since there’s a strong current much of the day in one direction or another, the only good time to go through is near slack current.  We called ahead and let boats going the other way know we were coming, and headed back through.

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There’s Wolfgang in his favorite location, with Peter at the helm and Olga and me watching.

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Along Chatham Channel

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Sue checking out the Channel, and wondering how close we’re going to get to shore.

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Lots of kelp beds along the Channel

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A sailboat headed the other direction

We were soon out in Johnstone Strait.

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The weather is always interesting in Johnstone Strait

It was crab cleaning time.  Jerry and Olga were the most intense crab pickers.  We have a new cleaver, which helped prep the crabs for picking.

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Competitive Crab Picking

We got to Seymour Narrows a bit early, so we wandered around Plumper Bay, and Peter made some lunch.

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Tomato soup–a perfect lunch.


The Narrows were, again, uneventful.  We continued south.

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House north of Campbell River

Here’s the YouTube video, mostly using time lapse, from Lagoon Cove, through Chatham Channel, down Johnstone Strait, and to the dock at Campbell River.

We needed to refill the fresh water, so we got a slip at Fisherman’s Wharf in Campbell River, at the land side of Dock C.


It was a great location to dock–just what we needed.  We had had a long day–we were finally docked in our berth at 2000.  The entrance was a little tricky because of the shallow spots everywhere (and the tide was a bit low), but I’m getting the hang of docking, at least in protected calm waters.

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July 21 (Day 21:  Campbell River Fisherman’s Wharf to Clam Bay)

We had a schedule to keep, because our guests had planes to catch from Seattle.  In 2 days, we needed to be a day away from our home dock, so we decided to stop in Clam Bay.  We have often stayed there.  It’s a large shallow bay, often with many boats anchored close in, but there’s always lots of room to anchor in the deeper areas.  Whenever we’ve anchored there, it’s always been very calm.

We left the dock at 0630, because we wanted to leave at high tide, due to the shallow spots right outside of the harbor.  It was a long trip down the Strait of Georgia.

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It wasn’t until 1730 that we were off Porlier Pass (one of the several passes that one can transit to get from the Strait of Georgia to the protected areas inside of a row of islands.  We arrived at Porlier Pass a while before slack current, and waited with tugs pulling a fuel barge and a wood chip barge until the timing was right for a crossing.


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At last, anchored in Clam Bay.

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Clam Bay

July 22 (Day 22: Clam Bay to Reid Harbor)

It was another early morning at Clam Bay.  Our goal was to get to Roche Harbor or Friday Harbor, clear customs, and anchor at Reid Harbor.  We weighed anchor at 0814, and headed south through the Gulf Islands.

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Sue, Peter, and Wolfgang in the pilothouse

Going to Friday Harbor would be out of the way, so Peter strongly suggested Roche Harbor.  The difference is that to get to Roche Harbor Customs Dock, one has to weave through lots of anchored boats, and usually wait for a spot before there’s room to tie up.  On the other hand, Friday Harbor is less busy and it’s a clear shot to the dock from the entrance to the harbor.  Peter thinks its good for me to have a stretch goal, so we went to Roche.  Just as we expected, there were lots of anchored and moored boats, and a full Customs Dock.

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Roche Harbor

So I maneuvered to a place near the dock, and waited for a bit until someone left.  That left us with about 130 ft of dock.  Which sounds like a lot, unless you’re a fairly new captain who’s never docked in tight quarters.  Did I mention there was also a breeze?

Well, it may be luck or it may be a modicum of skill, but I nailed it.  I was pretty happy with my docking.

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Customs was a bit difficult because of multinational visitors.  However, Olga and Wolfgang had proper documentation, so after a bit of discussion, we were allowed back in the country.  Coincidentally, Rick Etsell happened to be on the dock working on Malibu.  We were back in the US–time to take down the Canadian courtesy flag.


After Customs, we headed to Reid Harbor, and anchored.

Here’s a map of Stuart Island (where Reid Harbor is located) so you can get your bearings.

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A shore party went in for a stroll up the hill.

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Madrona trees

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Closeup of the beautiful Madrona bark

Jerry and Sue at the top of the hill.

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Looking down at Reid Harbor

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We see this osprey every year on the exact same tree.

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About the best place in the world for Adirondack chairs

Wolfgang had posited that we could adjust steering in the lazarette so that the autopilot didn’t over-steer (our rudder was one degree off–when the rudder indicator was 0, it would steer off course by 1 degree).  Peter and Wolfgang and I worked on it, and he was right.  All we had to do was loosen a tie rod slightly, then re-tighten it.  Here’s a photo of the adjustment screw.

160722_SAM_3489.JPG Here’s a photo of Reid Harbor at night.

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July 23 (Day 23:  Reid Harbor to Ewing St Moorings)

We got underway at 0900, and headed north of Speiden Island.

Here are some photos that show how far we’ve come since last year in our anchoring.  In the past, Peter would use some rebar to get the anchor set right.  For whatever reason, it always ends up cattywampus against the hull; hence the need for rebar (if anyone knows a way to make it come up right most of the time, let us know).  Anyway, last year, he and the guys at LUBR designed a gizmo to better turn the chain, and it works.  So here are some images of the the anchor and the old and new way of twisting the chain.


The big glob in the middle of the photo is the mud-covered anchor


Old method


New method

Peter and Wolfgang raised the anchor, and we were on our way.160723_SAM_3499.JPG


We had a choppy crossing in the Strait of Juan de Fuca (everyone should read the book:  Who in hell is Wanda Fuca?, by GM Ford, a mystery novel set in Seattle).


When we were off of Port Wilson, we saw a submarine escorted by two large ships and by young men with guns in several Zodiacs, humpback whales, and a large cargo ship, all in the same space.  It was an odd sight.

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Submarine between escorting ships

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Cargo ship and whales

Later, as we approached Seattle, we passed Summer Wind.  Summer Wind is the sister ship of the Gyrfalcon, built to the same specs one year earlier in Astoria rather than in Seattle.  Both ships were in the US Coast and Geodetic Survey from the early 1940s to the late 1960s, surveying the coast of Alaska.



We also saw the usual Puget Sound summer traffic–pleasure boats, cruise ships, and ferries.

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Cruise ship headed north

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Washington State Ferry

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Under the railroad bridge, approaching the locks.  We can go under the bridge–it was open for other boats.

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Approaching the locks

Walking forward along the wall

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Jerry and Peter on the stern line

It was interesting–the lock folks mistook us for the Summer Wind as we entered, even though both boats have undergone several modifications over the years.  The locking through was fairly smooth (large locks, port side tie).

Here’s a YouTube video of our trip through the locks.  And then–you won’t believe what happened when we came into our slip!

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2016 Cruise to the Broughtons Part 2 (July 9-17)

July 9 (Day 9:  Day at Pierre’s Echo Bay)

Our guests for the first week were gone.  This is was our day by ourselves at Echo Bay.  We did laundry, cleaning, projects, etc.  All in all a good day.

One thing about our guests: they’re always generous with clothing donations.  After guests leave, we invariably find drawers with unclaimed clothes, which we end up mailing or giving back when we return to Seattle.  Bounty for the first week:

Freeman-left; Sasseville-right

That evening at Pierre’s, there was a potluck pig roast in the main hall (as there is most Saturdays during the summers), so we took our plate of appetizers, and had a fun time socializing.

The dining hall at Pierre’s

The famous pig roaster


July 10 (Day 10:  Pierre’s at Echo Bay to Simoom Sound)

Our guests for week 2 were our friends David and Susan from Portland, and their friends George and Patty, also from Portland and fellow Classic Yacht Association members.  They came in on a Grumman Goose.

Boarding the plane on Vancouver Island

The pilot

Enjoying the flight

We liked Pierre’s dock cart so much that we got a similar one when we returned home.


The guests arrived sometime around 1100, and after all were settled, we left Pierre’s and made our way back over to Simoom Sound.

We really liked it there the last week, and thought that the location made for a gentle introduction to the Broughtons.  Simoom Sound was just as impressive as the last visit a week ago–we ended up staying there 2 days.

Usually there’s not this much interest in anchoring. Either it was just exciting for our new guests, or someone had their camera date set wrong.

We saw bears while kayaking, eagles on the shore and on the island, and porpoises.

David gave us a great mouse cheese cutting board that he had made–complete with a mouse cheese knife.  Perfect for us two veterinary pathologists!

July 11  (Day 11: Anchored in Simoom Sound)

This was a fun day of relaxing, kayaking, sightseeing, exploring, and fishing.  We started the morning off by heading for the end of the sound in the GFB.

Sightseeing cruise

Afterwards, several of us kayaked around the islands and bays.  George had not been on our boat previously, and enjoyed seeing the massive rudder and stern.

George in a kayak

Gyrfalcon rudder

The Gyrfalcon’s massive fantail


David kayaking

Peter out for a paddle

I think every person on the Gyrfalcon this summer took a photo of this sign

Photo of the Gyrfalcon hiding behind a small island

After kayaking, there was an engine room tour by Chief Engineer Peter.

Peter giving a tour

The kitty cats

Idiot’s guide to starting the Cats

George had a new camera, so he practiced taking landscape photos.  Some of them were quite good.  The only problem was that the date wasn’t set correctly in the camera.  I think I have most of the photos on the correct days, but I might have misfiled some of them.

George’s photo of our island at low tide

We had an eagle and a bunch of mergansers for company.

For dinner, we had something that has become a ritual when Susan is aboard: Dueling Risotto Chefs.  I’m not saying that Peter and Susan are competitive–but see for yourself.  In any case, Dueling Risotto Chefs is a spectator sport.

Starting the risotto

Risotto involves keeping the correct ratio of liquid to rice and stirring constantly


And keeping the temperature at the right level

And stirring some more

And lots of discussions between the 2 chefs

Notice the spectators, wine in hand

This was Patty’s favorite place to stand–right at the end of the galley, so no one could enter or leave the galley, or go from the salon to the pilothouse or the staterooms.  David also thought it was a great location to view the galley.

The dinner was fantastic…great risotto and wonderful company.

Risotto Dinner in the Pilothouse


July 12 (Day 12:  Simoom Sound to Carriden Bay)

We kayaked and fished a bit on the morning of July 12th.

Peaceful morning

Peter caught a baby halibut (we threw it back, of course)

George tried the beached whale approach to disembarking from a kayak.

Then we brought all of the gear aboard, and had GFB tiedown lessons on the cabin roof.


Fastening the bow of the GFB


Shipshape and ready for the day’s voyage


We weighed anchor and left Simoom Sound around 1100 on July 12th.  Two photo ops when we leave an anchorage: the grimaces on the person moving the shuttle, and the rear ends of folks looking over the side to see if the anchor is in its correct spot.  Here are a few of the photos from this time:

George managing the anchor chain

Butt shots


The scenery from Simoom Sound to Carriden Bay was beautiful.


We motored to the area around Sullivan Bay Marina.  Some of the gang went ashore in the GFB, but I (Nancy) stayed on the Gyrfalcon and just drifted around.  The reason for the trip was reprovisioning.  Sullivan Bay has a pretty good store, so we were able to pick up the things we needed.

It was a great day for wildlife:  A river otter by the fish farm coming out of Simoom Sound, Pacific white sided dolphins in Sutlej Channel, harlequin ducks and sea otters on the rocks SW of Kinnaird Island.  We anchored in the middle of Carriden Bay, and relaxed.

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Peter. David and George put out the prawn traps across the channel.  We had  a good harvest.

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The rock formations around Carriden Bay were fantastic–it was a fun shoreline to explore.


July 13th (Day 13:  Anchored in Carriden Bay)

We kayaked, fished, and generally had a relaxing time during our day in Carriden Bay.   I (Nancy) kayaked out to Kinnaird Island to see the sea otters.  While I was out in Grappler Sound, the wind picked up and there were 1-2 ft waves all of a sudden.  It was a bit freaky being out of sight of the Gyrfalcon and out of sight of any other boat, with waves breaking over the bow of the kayak.  I ended up tacking back to minimize the waves hitting the kayak broadside.  All was fine in the end, but I was glad when I was back in the protected bay.

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Peter, David, and George did both crabbing and shrimping.


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We also had enough time for projects.  David was interested in the plumbing project (house filters that we mentioned earlier in the blog about the first week).  The fishing table was a good workbench for making a board to hold the filters.  David, who is quite the woodworker, used our rudimentary shop to make a handle so that the filter assembly was easy to handle.  George was his assistant/supervisor.

David and George doing woodworking on the fish table

And after the first coat of varnish (the wood slats are just support, not part of the final piece):


Remember that we mentioned that Patty’s favorite place to stay was right in the passageway at the end of the galley, so no one could get by?  Both George and Susan apparently agreed that it was a great location, and took up residence, while David created a concoction from leftovers for lunch.


Later in the afternoon, most of us relaxed while Chef/Engineer Peter got dinner ready.

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Peter is a firm believer in mise en place



Looks like maybe another risotto

This time it was David observing from Patty’s favorite spot.  Note the new industrial fire suppression blanket between the joists.



Did we tell you that we have a dance floor on the Gyrfalcon?  Nightly dancing at 5 pm

George and Patty

George and Patty tripping the light fantastic


July 14th (Day 14:  Carriden Bay to Waddington Cove)

Here are a few photos of how we load the kayaks and GFB up on the roof.  Peter is the crane operator, and I hook the boats to the harnesses.  First the kayaks go up.  I’ve learned that it’s best to wear a hat.

The kayaks go up first, one at a time.

The Go-Fast-Boat goes up next.  I use to think the boat tilted a lot when the GFB is raised, but last week I saw a fishing boat offloading nets at Fisherman’s Terminal, and the tilt was quite amazing.

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We started the mains and weighed anchor about 1000.  George seems to have found his calling on Chain Management.


George managing the chain


David watching for the anchor

This was our first foray into the less protected waters of Queen Charlotte Strait.  The weather started out very calm as we headed down Wells Passage.

George took the wheel–do you think he looks happy?

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The wind and waves picked up when we were west of Percy Island, and we decided to tuck in behind the Polkinghorne Islands to minimize the rocking of the boat.  By the time we got south of Percy Island, the fog became fairly dense as well, so we navigated carefully, looking at the charts and looking out for logs and other boats.  South of Polkinghorne Islands, we saw a humpback whale in Nowell Channel!  First sighting of a large cetacean on the trip.  Because of the waves and the lack of visibility in Queen Charlotte Sound, we turned back east at Trainer Passage, which is south of Eden Island and north of Crib Island.  The scenery was beautiful.  Lots of small islands and pretty bays.  After passing north of Crib Island, we turned south into Spiller Passage between Morrow and Hudson Islands on the west, and Mars Island on the east.  Spiller Passage opens up to Arrow Passage.  We turned east and headed around the top of Bonwick Island to Waddington Cove.  The weather forecast was for gusty winds, and we heard that this cove was well protected.

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Some of the many islands dotting this part of the Broughtons

The entry into the cove was very narrow, but opened up into a nice cove.  We anchored in the middle.  We didn’t have much company at first, but as the day went on, a number of boats joined us.

July 15 (Day 15:  Waddington Cove to Alert Bay)

We got started early in the morning (generator on at 0730 and mains at 0745).


Peter and George weighing anchor

Weighing Anchor

Foggy morning

We headed down Retreat Passage (basically circumnavigating Bonwick Island).

On the way, we checked out Carrie Bay and Grebe Cove as potential future anchorages in a blow from the west.  There were lots of logs in the water, so we kept watch carefully.


Susan on Log Watch Duty

We also saw a First Nations settlement on the east side (Health Bay Reservation on Gilford Island), and saw some working and pleasure vessels.




We then turned west through Spring Passage.  By 0900, we were north of the House Islet, just starting to enter Queen Charlotte Strait.  From there, it was a fairly quick trip down to Alert Bay, on Cormorant Island, where we anchored in the northwest corner.  We were back in civilization, after several days with no cell phone coverage.  As we were coming in to Alert Bay, we saw a very large cruise ship making its way up the inside passage (a sure indication that there will be cell towers nearby).  We took the GFB into town and wandered around.


Definitely a project house.



Which is old:  the nurses or the residence?

Some of the boats in the harbor make the Gyrfalcon look in top shape!



There were interesting totem poles at the ‘Namgis Burial Ground (generations of Kwakwaka’wakw Chiefs and family leaders).


At the old harbor, a young girl braved the cold water to go swimming.


We returned to the boat for our last evening with our Portland guests.

July 16 (Day 16:  Alert Bay to East of Eden)

On July 16th, our second set of guests were set to return home.  They had scheduled a float plane to take them to Port Hardy, where they had left their car.  The float plane was a no-show, so they decided to wait for the ferry.  It took us awhile, but we all finally realized that the ferry they were waiting for was going to the same place that we were traveling to in the GFB for reprovisioning–Port McNeill (a relatively big town on Vancouver Island).  We could reprovision for week 3, and the Wisdoms and Bealls could get where they needed to go. It was about 6 nautical miles from Alert Bay to Port McNeill, and was fairly pleasant in the GFB.  From the dock in Port McNeill, Peter and I walked to a grocery and liquor store, and David, Susan, George, and Patty took a taxi from Port McNeill to Port Hardy (about 20 miles).


Leaving the Gyrfalcon

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George proudly wearing his Gyr Gear

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Nancy perched on the luggage

Some photos taken as the Portlanders made their way back south.


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After our guests were set, Peter and I wandered around Port McNeill, stocking up on wine and food (in that order).  We took the GFB back to the Gyrfalcon, and decided to head out to an anchorage closer to Pierre’s, where the next guests were flying in the following day.  The wildlife was good–we saw Pacific white-sided dolphns, red-necked phalaropes,  Dall’s porpoises, red-necked Grebes, sea lions, parasitic jaegers, and Bonaparte’s Gulls.

We headed up north, past Bonwick and Mars Islands, and into Fife Sound north of Eden Island.  Just south of the northwest end of Eden Island, there is an anchorage called East of Eden.  It was a great location–beautiful scenery, very few boats, and quiet.  We had bought a hummingbird feeder in Port McNeill, and put it out to see if we might attract a few.  It turns out we were in a perfect location for Rufous hummingbirds.

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We spent a quiet night, and got up the next day to head towards Pierre’s.

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2016 Cruise to the Broughtons Part 1 (July 1-8)

This is a long (almost a year) overdue series of blogs.  A lot has happened.  I (Nancy) had been transferred to San Francisco in the beginning of 2016 when my employer closed up shop in Seattle.  Trying to work in SF and maintain the boat in Seattle was challenging.  Even so, we managed to get in a few great trips, but with Peter traveling a lot for work, and keeping a footprint in 2 cities, we didn’t have much time for nonessentials.  A few months ago, I took a position back in Seattle, and we’re getting settled back in and starting to catch up on long overdue boat maintenance.  But more about that later.  For now, we’ll catch everyone up on the 2016 mid-summer cruise to the Broughtons.

Here’s a screen capture of the general plan for the trip.  During weeks 1 and 3, we traveled in the oblong oval, and during week 2 we were up in the circled area.  I’ve also put screen captures for each day’s travels.  They’re only as accurate as my finger was on the mouse pad, so don’t examine them too closely or take the routes too literally.

Cruising to the Broughtons has been a goal of ours.  Our boating friends (who all seem to have more vacation time than we do) have been extolling the virtues of the Broughtons for years.  This year, we managed to string three weeks together, and we were Broughton-bound.   As in past years, we had 2 couples per week traveling with us (fly in/fly out on float planes).  Unlike last year, we added one day of just Nancy/Peter time between each week.  It kept us more sane and allowed us to enjoy our company more.

Only one thing stood in the way of getting to the Broughtons–the narrows and the rapids.  Because of these challenging navigational areas on the way to the Broughtons,  I attended a seminar from Mark Bunzel at Waggoner’s to prepare me for the trip.  Here’s a link to this year’s seminars:

I highly recommend the course.  The one I took was 2 days (it was pretty crazy–fly from SF to Seattle, drive to Mt Vernon, take the course, drive back to the boat, and fly out the next Monday for work), but well worth the time and money.  Based on that course, I planned and calculated, and replanned our timing so that we would transit the rapids at slack tide.  It was especially important to plan carefully because we just happened to be going through the narrows on the day of the month with the biggest current.    We were going through on July 4th.  Max  current on that day was up to 15 kts.  Note that our boat doesn’t go that fast.  Here are the relevant pages from Ports and Passes, a very valuable book for this part of the world.

Circled time is slack tide on July 4th. Columns on right indicate max flood and ebb currents


All of the calculations indicated that we needed to be at Gowlland Harbor south of Seymour Narrows for a very early transit (0505-0530)  It meant for some long days at the beginning, but it also allowed us to maximize time in the Broughtons.

Thanks as always to our guests for providing many of the great photos of this trip.

July 1, 2016 (Day 1: Ewing St to Port Townsend)

We left Ewing St Mooring at about noon on Friday, July 1st.  Our guests for the first week were Vito, Tracy, and Jessica and Tom.  The weather was great.  We went through the large locks and headed up north. Our plan was to be in a position to get to Bedwell early the next morning to clear Canadian Customs.  We anchored off south of the Boat Haven, south of the main part of Port Townsend.

View going down ship canal

Approaching the locks

A summer crowd in the large locks

Tom manning the bow line

It was a low tide, so we have a large drop

Five hours later, we were in Port Townsend.  We now have a railing on the pilothouse roof, allowing us to hang out and enjoy the evening. 160701_20160701_174602160701_20160701_174559160701_20160701_174544160701_20160701_174446

July 2, 2016 (Day 2: Port Townsend to Nanaimo)

We got up the next day and left the Port Townsend anchorage at 0600, headed up through Middle Channel between San Juan and Lopez Islands.

Port Townsend at dawn

Rounding Point Wilson Lighthouse

There was a lot of chop in the channel, which was trying for Jessica who was working hard at the wheel, trying to maintain a straight course.


Chop in Middle Channel


Jessica at the helm, with Tracy watching for logs


Trying to keep a straight course

Our timing was good–we were at Bedwell at about 1130.

Customs Dock, Bedwell Harbor

After clearing customs, we headed south, then west, then north to go around North Pender Island, then to Trincomali Channel (NE of Salt Spring Island, NE of Wallace Island, and NE of Reid Island), through Porlier Pass, east of Thrasher Rock, through Forward Channel and arrived in Nanaimo at about 6 pm.  It was a good day for wildlife and currents.  We saw porpoises in Middle Channel, and at one point we were making 12.8 kts over ground at only 1400 RPM.

Choppy waves

We saw log booms coming into Nanaimo, and had a relaxing evening at anchor.

Log boom coming into Nanaimo

Nanaimo from our anchorage in the harbor

Cheese and crackers on the Gyrfalcon’s version of a lido deck

A dinner of Gyrfalcon Salmon Salad

July 3, 2016 (Day 3: Nanaimo to Gowlland Harbor)

Another early morning leaving Nanaimo (0600).  We had a first coming out of the harbor–a small ferry saw us on the AIS (new to us this year–we can see other ships and they can also see our location, speed, etc).  The captain of the ferry hailed us (as Gyro-falcon).  We passed NE of Ballenas Island, by False Bay, and through Stevens Passage east of Sisters Islets and west of Lasqueti Island.

Canadian lighthouse

By about 2 pm, we were approaching Oyster River.  Our goal was Gowlland Harbor.  The last few miles, we had a 5 kt current against us, so we hugged the shoreline (following the lead of a small fishing boat in front of us), and made 10.5 kts in the back eddies.

Beautiful sunset in Gowlland Harbor.

We made a run into Campbell River on the GFB and found all the essentials: a grocery story and wine and liquor.  One can never predict the alcoholic intake of guests.  Over the
trip, Vito and Tracy and Tom and Jessica spent many hours discussing wine clubs and various drink concoctions.  I think talking about drinking makes one want to drink more!

It was an early night, since the next day would be our trip through Seymour Narrows.

July 4, 2016 (Day 4: Gowlland Harbor to Lagoon Cove)

First part of trip up to the Narrows

Entire day’s voyage

We got up at 0230.  Mains and generator were on by 0245, and by 0300 we were motoring out of Gowlland Harbor.  Tom, Peter, and Vito were on log watch with spotlights.  We motored very slowly until we were clear of the harbor.  The current was about 4.3 kts, and it slowed us to about 3 kts, until we went closer to shore, folloiwng a tug pulling a barge up ahead.  Peter and Tom went inside, but Vito was a trooper and stayed on log patrol.  By 0422, we were in the bay east of Yellow Island.  We stayed there for a little while, along with the tug.  About 15 minutes later, the tug pulled out and went through and we followed behind, motoring towards the light at Maud Island, and into the Narrows.

Ripple Rock is in the middle of Seymour Narrows.  In the past, Ripple Rock had had been a hazard to navigation, as the top of the rock was just 9 feet below the waterline, capsizing ships and also creating incredible eddies that would also sink ships.  Since the late 1800s, over 100 ships have sunk or been damaged, and as many people have lost their lives.  In the 1940s, a few attempts were made to lower the peak of Ripple Rock, but they were unsuccessful.  Finally, in the 1950s, the top of the rock was blasted off.  Check out this video of the engineering feat.

Approaching the Narrows–still dark

In the Narrows!!

Uneventful trip over Ripple Rock

The narrows was very calm.  Jessica made an appearance, looked around, and went back below to get more sleep.  We stayed to the east side of the channel along North Bluff, and by 0630, we were off Turn Island.  We were famished.  We ate our second or third breakfast.  Some of us got to take a nap.

Insert from Peter: Nancy had been worried about the Narrows for months. She took the Waggoner course, and calculated and recalculated our exact time for safe transit on a weekly basis all though the Spring. When we finally reached the rapids, her calculations were spot-on, we transited without any issues. Ten minutes in, she turned to me and said, “This is boring. Here, you take the wheel. I’m going to make myself an English Muffin.” She had nailed it!

Engineer fast asleep in the pilothouse as we head up Discovery Passage

There were lots of logs in the Strait, so we kept one watcher at all times.  There were also other ships.

Cruise ship following us up the Strait

Vito takes the helm and Captain Nancy looks for logs

When we got past Walkem Island, the winds and waves started to pick up, and we had a following current, pushing us at 10.2 kts at 1100 rpm.  The current really helped us, as we were going 11.3 kts at 1300 rpm off Helmcken Island, and 14.8 kts at the same rpm off of Earl Ledge.

Choppy seas in Johnstone Strait

The weather rewarded us with a rainbow

The first of many beautiful rainbows

Our timing was great.  We were at Chatham Channel at slack current, and had an uneventful trip through it.  At one point, it was so calm that Jessica decided the wheel trim and the stand for the engine controls needed polishing.

The polished stand

We arrived at Lagoon Cove by about noon, and anchored right in the middle of the bay.  Some folks I had met at the Waggoner’s seminar were staying at the marina, so we went ashore to visit.

Lagoon Cove

Our anchorage

We got there in plenty of time to set out the crab traps.  The crabbers were successful.  We had the opportunity to use our new fish table (which clears the opening into the lazarette by about 1/4″).  Tom and Vito cleaned the crabs.

Crab cleaning

Crab cooking

I slept like a log.  We had made it through the Narrows!  We ended up spending an extra day in Lagoon Cove, exploring by GFB.

While we were in Lagoon Cove, we had time for some projects. Tracy and Peter wired a 110v receptacle for the computer in the pilothouse. Like every other project on the boat, it took three times as long as expected to figure out the best route for the wire to take under the pilot house, pull the wire and then mount the receptacle. Everything went well, and we now have a dedicated outlet for the computer next to the helm station.

July 5 (Day 5: Anchored at Lagoon Cove)

It was a relaxing day–kayaking, cooking, basking, drinking, crabbing, and other cruising activities.  We had our first opportunity to use our new aluminum boarding ladder–a great success.  It’s now easier for all to get in and out of the GFB and kayaks.  Jacqueline–you can still get in and out whatever way you want, although we have retired the rope ladder.  Here are some photos of the day:


Our lovely anchorage


The new ladder



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Jessica demonstrating the new and improved kayak entry/exit method


Nancy shooting a photo or two

There was time for lounging around


Even the engineer had time off


Tracy and Jessica enjoying the anchorage

Also time for a project or two.  The shiny brass in the pilothouse looked so good, it made the wheel look bad.  So Jessica and Nancy scraped, sanded, and painted.

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The newly shined wheel with the painted hub

Then it was time for some good food.  Vito and Tom cleaned some more crabs, and Tracy cooked up some delicious crab cakes.



Our dinner feast

June 6, 2017 (Day 5:  Lagoon Cove to Kwatsi Bay)

We had a leisurely morning, underway at 9 am, after a crab harvest.



Tom and Vito harvesting crabs

The scenery was beautiful on this trip


We saw Pacific white-sided dolphins everywhere around Doctor Islets at low tide.  We went up Tribune Channel, south of Kumlah Island, and passed Irvine Point and Miller Point to arrive at Kswatsi Bay at noon.  We anchored in about 100 ft of water.  We took the GFB to the dock and talked to our friends that we had met previously at Lagoon Cove.  Then several of us took kayaks over to the waterfall and hiked up.  Wildlife for the day:  Along with the usual birds, we also saw Dall’s porpoises, the dolphins already mentioned, marbled murrulets, and lots of seals.  All in all a pleasant day.

We started to name logs by the number of birds (usually gulls) on them.  This, for example, is a 3 bird log.

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Three Bird Log

July 7, 2016 (Day 7: Kwatsi Bay to Simoom Sound)

The next day was a leisurely trip from Kwatsi Bay to Simoom Sound.  Several of our boating friends had highly recommended Simoom Sound, so we decided to check it out.  It did not disappoint.  We left Kwatsi Bay and went past Echo Bay to Simoom Sound, anchoring right in the middle of a cove next to McIntosh Bay. We were in about 80-100 ft of water depending on tide (20 ft tides in this part of the world), with about 140 ft of anchor rode out.  We saw ravens, eagles, and lots of fish.  There was lots of kayaking, fishing, and relaxing.  Vito kayak-fished with a fly rod and was quite successful.  Others fished off the stern of the Gyrfalcon.  The fish were biting like crazy. We didn’t keep any fish, as they were mostly small and we weren’t sure if we were in a rockfish protection area.

Vito heads out in the kayak

Fly fishing in the rain

Peter and his catch

Tom and his catch

The scenery was beautiful.

I was determined to finish one project:  We had purchased 2 whole house water filter housings.  Our plan was to use those in tandem when we had to take on water that was somewhat questionable in the Broughtons.  I had bought various PVC fittings and glue, and just needed some time to put them together.   Here are a few photos of the pieces and parts, and me putting them together.  More on this during part 2 of this blog series.

Nothing much else to say about that day at Simoom Sound.  It was breathtakingly gorgeous.  We understood why our boating friends were so hooked on the Broughtons.


July 8 (Day 8: Simoom Sound to Pierre’s at Echo Bay)

We did a bunch of kayaking and fishing in the morning in Simoom Sound.  Vito and I saw sea lions near the rocky islands, one with a salmon.

Our SImoom Sound Anchorage from a kayak

Our Simoom Sound Anchorage from a kayak

Some more photos of fishing

There was also a bear prowling along the shore, and a red throated loon.

A bear prowling the rocky shore at low tide

Since last year, I’ve been making bread using the “Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day” method that I heard about on an episode of The Splendid Table.

It’s great on the boat–it doesn’t take much time to make, gives off a wonderful aroma when cooking, is tolerant of mistakes, and allows us to have fresh bread at every meal.  Here was the loaf of the day–looks almost like the cover of the book!

Home made bread

In the late morning, we headed a short distance over to Pierre’s  at Echo Bay to meet float planes for Vito/Tracy and Tom/Jessica, and for Peter and me to spend 2 nights.

Vito using our improved anchor chain straightener

Success with proper anchor placement


At Pierre’s at Echo Bay, we were coming into the assigned dock, just about to make the turn into the dock (see red line in photo below),  when the person on Pierre’s radio said:  Wait, what’s your tonnage?  I picked up the radio and replied:  167 tons, to which he replied:  New docking plans–go to the last dock (see blue arrow).  Now, to non-boaters, this may not be a big deal, but for me (Nancy), switching plans in mid course, AND operating the radio AND docking the boat without major stress was a big deal, and was a confidence-builder.

Pierre’s at Echo Bay

Gyrfalcon at its dock

We had caught some shrimp along the way, and made some spring rolls for lunch.

Shrimp rolls were great!

Shrimp rolls

We met a veterinarian, John Strathman, who was kayaking long distance solo in his sailing kayak.  Here are some photos of his rig:

John Strathman sailing kayak


John Strathman Sailing Kayak

A friendly barn swallow on our boat

We visited Bill Proctor’s museum.  It’s a legendary museum full of beach artifacts.   Billy Proctor lives on a harbor that you reach by a pleasant hike over a ridge.

Hike through the woods to Billy Proctor’s Museum

At Billy’s

Billy’s woodshed

The harbor on the other side of the point

Here’s a link to information about his museum.

Here are the museum hours:

Billy’s Museum Hours:

If Billy is there, the museum is open.

If Billy’s not there, the museum is closed.

We also explored Pierre’s establishment.

Fishing humor

Weather station at Pierre’s

The docks were adorned with pretty flowers.

Jessica along Pierre’s docks


After lunch, it was time for our first week’s guests to leave:

First Tom and Jessica:  

Then Vito and Tracy

Broughtons from the air

One guest remained with us–Bob.  Bob has become a permanent fixture in our crows nest. Bob is a holdover from a previous cruise. He would not follow the crew’s orders, did not like the food we cooked, and insisted on taking four showers a day. We endured this behavior for a few days, and then we strapped him to the Crows Nest. He got a lot quieter after a week or two.


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