31 January 2010

The Turtles Move Their Shell

Traveling by sailboat is much like being a turtle - you move slowly but you carry your house around with you.

Despite a forecast of light and variable wind (which around here usually means NO wind) we were able to sail almost the entire way from Sidney BC to Victoria BC. It was wet and cold but lovely to be without the engine when we had expected to motor.


(Trial Island)

You might notice something different between this picture of float 4 at Fisherman's Wharf and this picture.

We spent the unexpected sunny day today thoroughly enjoying pedestrian downtown life. Poutine on the water, coffee at our favorite spot, a stop at MEC to buy some outdoor gear. Lovely.

28 January 2010

Wauquiez in Paradise


Pretorien in Chania
Originally uploaded by S/V Estrellita

While Carol was away from me in 2008, he visited Chania, Greece.

He had coffee overlooking this beautiful lighthouse and he went into a shop to try to find a postcard of the scene so he could share it with me. He found one with a sailboat, perfect! And then he realized, it was a PRETORIEN* - our boat.

I was off gallavanting around Paris by the time the postcard arrived and our good friend Ryan scanned it and emailed it to me so I could read it.

The picture is such a symbol of our dreams. The sun, the blue water, the foreign port, our beautiful boat slipping in.

The photo hangs on the wall in the v-berth feeding the dream.

It is so tempting to rush off South to the warmth and the blue water instead of North to the mountains and falls but I've been reading and viewing photos of the Queen Charlottes and their beauty, while different, and *chillier*, is equal.

- Livia

*Might be a Gladiateur, a 33' Wauquiez

23 January 2010

Boat Moments

You bang your elbow/head/shin for the umpteenth time on the salon table/companion way/boom. You pull something out of a storage area you swear was dry and it is moldy. You look for the screwdriver/CD/paper towels that you know you put away in the correct nook and you can't find it anywhere.

Minor things compared to the freedom of travel, right?

But suddenly, out of nowhere, all of the little discomforts of boat life come bubbling to the surface and in the face of a minor, easily fixable problem, you LOSE YOUR SHIT.

As our friends on IO captured it: "After removing about eight items, I struggle to take out the compact portable printer from the cubby hole because it fits in there without an inch of moving room. My blood starts to boil, foul language starts spraying, and I look like a lunatic yanking on plastic or clawing on cardboard. "That's it, I'm tossing the bloody thing overboard!"

We have dubbed these "boat moments" and these are the two things that we know to be true about them:

1) You will lose all perspective. The issue will balloon out of proportion until your mental stability, shaky at this moment, will balance entirely on the problem's successful resolution.

2) You will lose all concept of appropriate levels of force. You will pull/push harder, throw impeding objects clear of your path, and inevitably break something much more valuable and/or hurt yourself.

In order to deal with boat moments we have, so far, come up with a three step plan:

1) Correctly identify the boat moment: The other person, who is hopefully home, will yell "You are having a boat moment" or if they are not home, we strive (although often fail) to label it ourselves.

2) Step away from the boat moment. It is now the other person's job or at least, you need a time out.

3) Play Gypsy Kings until you are shaking your booty rather than your fist.

That's it so far. Ideas?

21 January 2010

All hail the new hailing port

A day in the life of a boat monkey worker.

After picking up groceries, stowing groceries, and cooking lunch I noticed that the sun was actually out. I have a long list of tasks that I'm half-way through that I need fair weather to finish so I dashed outside, dug through our deep storage areas in the cockpit (i.e., lazarettes) to find all of the bits that I needed to put on our new hailing port and went on the dock.

After spending 5 minutes adjusting the dock lines so that the boat was almost (but not quite) touching the dock, I scrubbed the stern, used some camping fuel to remove all traces of wax and then, with some soapy water, lay down the vinyl lettering we purchased almost 6 months ago.

60 minutes later I peeled off the backing - much like a temporary tattoo, and voila:



Our boat is now marked as from Victoria, a year after we imported the boat and registered it with the Coast Guard. You might remember our previous hailing port as Colorado Springs, CO.

Tomorrow I will put a few layers of wax over the letters to replace what I stripped off to protect the vinyl and also our hull.

We used Prism Graphics in Seattle, WA to generate and put on our original name and hailing port. They generated the new hailing port so that the size/color would match. We are very happy with their work, timing and support.

19 January 2010

Making Your Life Easier: New Gadgets on the Blog

One annoying thing about blogs is that you have to go to each individual blog that you read and check to see if they have new posts. An easy way around this is to use a "feed reader" of some sort. What this does is that you can go to one place and see if any of your blogs have new posts because the reader checks each blog for you. This works with most blogs and if you are interested in that, read about Google Reader which is what we use. I'm sure that there are other options but I'm well into the cult of Google by now.

However, if that sounds complicated OR if you only read a few blogs, it is MUCH easier if the blog will send an email to you when an update has been posted.

Voila! At the bottom of this blog you will now find a way to have updates from this blog sent to you via email. Just enter in your email address, then the silly anti-spam word it will show you, and then wait for an introductory email in your inbox.

In addition, there is a good search function so you can search for "edmonds" or "hyrdrovane" and find those posts.

In addition, on the right side of the blog is a cluster of words organized by size of font depending on how many posts are associated with that particular word. This is called a label cloud and you can click on a word and find all posts linked to that word. Thus you can easily find "picturesque" posts or posts about "gear".

17 January 2010

We are moving!

Our new backyard will be Fisherman's Wharf in downtown Victoria, BC. The wharf has several floats of fishing boats, a few floats for pleasure craft and a few floats of float homes.



Additionally, there are some eateries and businesses on the main dock so the docks get a lot of tourist traffic when the weather is nice. We're preparing to be asked "You live on THAT?" a hundred times.

We're really looking forward to being walking distance to downtown for our last 5 months and we'll be biking/walking distance to the climbing gym.

14 January 2010

Vendée Globe

Wow. Totally intense DVD watching last night.

Many sailors know the story of the first non-stop around the world boat race, The Golden Globe, which later became the Vendée Globe. The first year's race is a terrific true story that I can't give details about without ruining the crazy plot twists. It is where the mystic legendary status of Moitessier began, or at least was solidified, in the single-handing world and also where the name Crowhurst became infamous.

I originally was exposed to the story in a history of the Vendée Globe titled Godforsaken Sea: The True Story of a Race Through the World's Most Dangerous Waters. I'm not particularly interested in racing but this is a great book about racing for a cruiser to read because it is about racing non-stop across oceans while rounding all of the biggest capes.

For those unfamiliar with the Vendée Globe, it is essentially an out-and-back around-the-buoy race except the buoy is Antarctica. Boats leave France (originally from England) and head South and then East, below Africa and circle Antarctica keeping all of the land masses to port (i.e., to the left). The boats have a single sailor aboard who cannot touch land or receive any assistance (even routing assistance) without disqualifying themselves. They sail through the Southern Ocean, home of the most intense waters on the planet. They aren't called the Roaring Forties (i.e., referring to the latitude south) for nothing. Sick.

Last night, we picked up a copy of Deep Water from the public library, a documentary about the first year of the Vendée Globe. The movie has actual footage from the boats and interviews from friends, family members and survivors of the race. I wish I could tell you more without ruining the surprises but I can't. See it. Yachtie or not, I think you'll enjoy it.

11 January 2010

Book Review: Cruising British Columbia

For our first book review*, it seems appropriate to begin with our favorite cruising guides for our local cruising grounds: British Columbia including the Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island and the San Juan Islands of Washington State.

Incidentally, if you haven't read about the Pig War and the division of the Gulf and San Juan Islands between Canada and the US, chuckle over this.

Hands down, our favorite local guides are the Dreamspeaker Series. The six volumes are an excellent set to have on board while cruising BC and the Pacific Northwest. We own three volumes and have cruised with all of the others after checking them out of the Vancouver Island public library system.

Because many of the lovely nooks and crannies that make up anchorages around this area are too small for the scale of the local charts (paper or C-MAP, both of which are excellent in the area), after 3 years of cruising this area I can say that we have come to trust the hand drawn charts in these books over any other source when coming in to a small anchorage. We always cross-reference the book with our paper and electronic chart sources first of course.

The books each begin with an introduction to the cruising grounds and the local weather systems with an emphasis on the summer months when most people cruise. As year round cruisers we would have appreciated a few sentences on the winter months, but I guess if you are going to be sailing in the winter around here, you should have your act together about the weather!

Finally, the anchorages are organized in sections by geographical area and in addition to the excellent drawings, each description includes information about the depths, holding ground, protection and things to do in the surrounding area.

The series is designed more for gunkholing than marina hopping although marina information is given in all of the provisioning ports and urban centers.

Vol. 1 - Gulf Island and Vancouver Island
Vol. 2 - Desolation Sound & the Discovery Islands
Vol. 3 - Vancouver, Howe Sound, & The Sunshine Coast
Vol. 4 - The San Juan Islands
Vol. 5 - The Broughtons
Vol. 6 - The West Coast of Vancouver Island


In addition, we highly recommend keeping a copy of Waggoners aboard while cruising in this area. It is encyclopedic in nature and is an excellent resource for figuring out provisioning and fueling. It has the phone numbers and VHF information for virtually everything marine and covers the Puget Sound past Seattle. Ours is a 2007 which has most of the pages falling out from overuse so we are upgrading to a 2010 this year.

If you are considering these books or cruising in this area we would be happy to chat. Leave a comment here or contact us with the email posted at the bottom of this page.

*I will be reviewing books we loved, books we hated and everything in between. Caveat Emptor: If you click through one of these links and buy a book, we benefit.

06 January 2010

Making Merry On A Boat: Snowmen

A tradition we started on our honeymoon to Thailand was to make a snowman, or a sandman if tropical, each year sometime around Christmas/New Years. We also decided to name them like hurricanes (loosely alphabetically).

In Thailand, the longtail drivers would yell out locations by repeating the location name twice. In Rai Lei where we spent almost two weeks climbing, the most common location was Ao Nang and we heard this hundreds of times as we were walking with our gear down the beach past the longtails.

Meet our 2007 sandman, "Ao Nang, Ao Nang!":


In early 2009 we left on New Years Day for a 35 day sail trip around BC and while in Nanaimo, BC we tried our very first Nanaimo Bar at a cafe while snowed in at the public docks.

Our "2008" holiday snowman was thus named "Nanaimo Bar" and had a pink squid fishing lure we found as his hair:


This year we visited Colorado just after Christmas through the New Year and while snowshoeing near the Comanchee National Forest, we made our 2009 snowman "Colorado Comanchee":

04 January 2010

Making Merry On A Boat: Butchart Gardens

We went on a 4 day sailing trip just before Christmas. We spent two days at Princess Bay on Portland Island. Portland Island is a marine park and Princess Bay is a lovely spot on the SE corner.

Motoring in our full enclosure with the Wallas forced air diesel heater on in the cabin is such a big improvement over our 35 day January sail last year:


The wind decided to change heavy and southerly after two nights and so we anchored in Todd Inlet near the famous Butchart Gardens.

The Gardens were lit up for the holidays:


And they have displays of the 12 days of Christmas. I photographed all of them, in the fading light, so here they are...