October 10, 2005

Using Wireless Internet - WiFi - While Cruising

Wireless Internet “WiFi” – is becoming available in more and more marinas and anchorages, worldwide.   WiFi adapters are now also a standard feature in many computers.

WiFi can be used not just for email and web surfing, but also for very inexpensive telephone service, using a voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) service like Skype http://www.skype.com (which we love and highly recommend).

In many of the Marinas we’ve been in, the service is free.  In most, though, you’ll need to signup for the service or pay on a daily basis.  We’re currently cruising the Pacific Northwest and up here a company, Broad Band Express http://www.bbxpress.net/  has wired many of the marinas and anchorages.  So it made sense for us to sign up for their annual plan.

The biggest challenge to successfully using the service has been getting good reception.  WiFi uses radio communications at 2.4 gigahertz, which is quite finicky.  We’ve had little luck using the WiFi adapters built into our PCs, so we’ve found a good solution in a combination WiFi adapter and antenna from Hawking Technology http://www.hawkingtech.com/ their HWU54D.  This unit attaches to your PC via a serial USB cable, which also supplies it’s power.

We bought ours online at http://www.ecost.com for $50 US.

There are also WiFi antennas on the market that you could try,  but there are a couple of issues with external antennas:

1. Most computers have no antenna jack to connect the antenna to, and

2. The cable loss at WiFi frequencies (2.4 Giga Hertz) is so high that the cable loses a lot of power.

You could also buy a marine grade external antenna and a high power PC Card, but this costs a lot more money (well over $100 US).

All our PCs have a built-in WiFi adapter.  We don't use the built-ins when we using the Hawking HWU54D.

It's easy to disable the built-in adapter.  Just right click on "My Network Neighborhood" (in Windows XP), select properties.  All your network adapters will pop up in a window.  Right click on the built-in adapter and select "Disable".  When the adapter is disabled, this menu will allow you to "Enable" it - for when you take your laptop to a hotspot.

When we use the HWU54D, we run in with a 10 foot USB extension cable and put it on top of our boom.  I use a high tech enclosure to weather proof it.... A zip lock baggie  ;-}

I use another baggie and twist tie to weather proof the connection between the two USB cables.

If you need more than 16 feet USB cable length, You’ll need to buy an “Active” USB extension cable.  These amplify the USB signal and will let you cascade cables to extend a greater distance.    

October 8, 2005

On to Victoria!

Hello Everyone!

We've just posted the latest batch of pictures on the website http://raptordance.com

During the last week, it's been very rainy and overcast. We've only had one nice day.  The forecast is for more of the same ;-{

After the last week's boat chores in Sidney, we continued back to Maple Bay and had a lovely afternoon and evening at Rob and Shannon's home in Crofton on Sunday, October 2nd. Also present were Craig and Barbara from Capella along with their friends Pat and Mary Ann. On Monday, we all went over to Capella for a dinner of BBQ pork loin.

Pat and Mary Ann were visiting to get an idea of what the "cruising life" might be like. They expected it to be very slow, lots of lying around and reading. We may not have given them a totally accurate picture. Now they think it involves lots of eating and socializing.

On Tuesday the 4th, we motored back to Port Sidney with Capella and were joined later in the day by Roger and Mona on Cherokee Eagle who came across from their winter slip in Blaine Washington.

Craig, Barbara, Pat, Mary Ann, Mary and I went to "Fish on Fifth" in Sidney for fish and chips. This remains, in our opinion, the best fish and chips place we've found in Canada.

That night we went to the "Maple Palace" for Chinese food with Roger and Mona. This restaurant was excellent.

We all went back on Wednesday for a Chinese lunch feast. That night we gathered on Raptor Dance for a game of Mexican Train dominoes.

On Thursday, we left Capella, who headed back over to Ganges and motored with Cherokee Eagle down to Victoria. We were dressed in full cold weather gear as it was rainy and cold.

We tied up in one of the most scenic anchorages in any downtown harbor, the Docks in front of the Empress Hotel in James Bay in Downtown Victoria. A wonderful little marina, be sure to check out our pictures on the website.  

The docks were almost empty when we arrived on Thursday. This is a long weekend for Canadians... Thanksgiving. So the docks are filling up now.  Also tomorrow is the Royal Victoria Marathon, one of the qualifiers for the Boston Marathon - see: http://www.royalvictoriamarathon.com/

The starting line is nearby and the race passes by on the road between the docks and the Empress Hotel. We'll be rooting them on as they pass right by the marina. The finish line is in front of the Parliament building, just South of the Marina.  

We'll be here in Victoria a week, then head over to Friday Harbor in Washington on Thursday or Friday (weather permitting). After that, we'll be heading for the barn! We should be in Lake Union by the 18th or 19th.

We'll then meet with the water maker repair folks and pack up to head to Sonoma for the winter. We've already hit some of our favorite restaurants and gone for some nice walks in town.

Last night, we saw the premier of the Wallace and Gromit movie, "The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit". Highly Recommended! See: http://www.wandg.com/ and http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051006/REVIEWS/50929001

Tuesday, we have tickets to see the Pacific Opera Victoria production of Tchaikovsky's opera, Eugene Onegin see: http://www.pov.bc.ca/season_onegin.html

One tool we've found that we really like is Google Earth. It's a free satellite photo service. It gives a great view of the world with not quite the resolution of spy satellites. You download and install the Google Earth client on your PC to use the service. Give it a try at http://earth.google.com  

Once you have Google Earth installed try this link: http://raptordance.us/KMZ/EmpressDocks.kmz to see where we currently are docked in Victoria (Save the kmz file to your hard disk, then double click the file to launch Google Earth).

Note, these pictures are up to a year or two old, so you won't see us in the slip! Google Earth gives a much more dynamic presentation than the static satellite maps on our web site's current position page.

That's the latest from Victoria BC!

Warmest Regards,
Bill and Mary      

September 30, 2005

Back to Sidney and Water Heater Woes

Hi Everyone,

Since our last note we've made a few stops and had a
variety of weather. Also, the numbers of boats out
and about have decreased significantly since the labor
day weekend.

We only stayed one night at Telegraph Harbor, Thetis
Island before continuing on to Chemainus, Vancouver
Island. The marina is small but Harmen, the
wharfinger (harbor master), is great, very friendly
and helpful. We could walk through the entire town
right from the dock. In fact, we did a lot of walking,
finding many interesting places. We followed the
footprints on the roads past the many many murals on
the town buildings. We also found a tiny but excellent
Chinese Restaurant, Ding Ho, right up from the marina,
and a good Japanese place too.

We had to stop in the Grapefully Yours store to see
what is was. We recognized the familiar aroma as soon
as we entered. It turned out to be a gift shop plus a
U-brew place. After a bit of tasting of Raspberry
Port, we decided to have a batch of Old Vine Zinfandel
prepared for next April. We'll let you know how this
turns out...weather it was a weak moment or a good

A few days later we moved on to Maple Bay. This is a
good marina for locals but not so good if you don't
have a car because it's too far from town. The reason
we went there was to hook up with friends we made in
Mexico, Roger (Mona had just gone back to the states)
of Cherokee Eagle and Rob and Shannon, of Sea Bull,
who live nearby in Crofton. We all enjoyed an
excellent meal at the Grapevine which is near the
municipal pier.

We were on a roll. After two nights we moved to
Ganges, Salt Spring Island, with Roger to hook up with
Craig and Barbara of Capella fame.

We enjoyed our time here in June and were glad to
return for the Saturday Market, good restaurants and
friends. Barbara and Craig were happy on arriving here
to just put the anchor down for a long term stay.

Needless to say, there was more good food involved.
House Picollo was our favorite restaurant. Another
evening we all had steaks and all the trimmings on
Capella, Pork Marsala on Raptor Dance and Bill's
excellent (weather inspired) onion soup. See below for
the recipe.

Rob and Shannon came by ferry and gave us all a tour
of Salt Spring Island...and a home grown frozen
chicken (would you believe?).

Our timing was good, so we were able to visit with Ken
and Wendy on Poppy II too. They had just returned from

We also met briefly with Marilyn Ming who, with her
husband Jim, own the Valiant 40, Coyote Moon. She's
head librarian at the Salt Springs Library in Ganges
and commutes over from Sidney. We missed them on our
earlier pass through the area as they were doing a
circumnavigation of Vancouver Island.

We did manage to see some sun during this time but
it's getting pretty cold now. We've been regularly
using our heater. The dominoes came out for Mexican
Train and we learned how to play team Skip Bow (also
known as Spite and Malice).

We had already made plans to return to Canoe Cove to
have our water heater checked. Bill determined that
the tiny leak, which we've had since we were in the
Sea of Cortez, was coming from a corner of the water
heater. We thought it was better to do the work there,
where a replacement was available if needed. Funny
thing, all doubt was lifted when suddenly water was
pouring out of the water heater. Yep, a new one was in
our immediate future. But it was Friday and we were
not due at Canoe Cove until Monday. Now I know many
boaters routinely use the marina showers but we never
had. We missed being able to use our on board shower
but it was actually not too inconvenient using the
marina's. So for one Looney (a $1 CAN coin with a Loon
on the back - approximately $0.83) we got four minutes
of hot water.

Monday we arrived in Canoe Cove and got settled in at
the service dock. Monday night we had dinner with Jim
and Marilyn and had a lovely dinner at the house that
they're building a short distance away from the
marina. We also did the usual tour of each others
boats. Coyote Moon is back in their slip, also at
Canoe Cove. Interestingly while they were off on the
circumnavigation, the marina put us in their slip for
a few days when we were here before.

Stan from Canoe Cove worked with us on the water
heater problem. He's the fellow who did our new
through hull and raw water manifolds back in June - so
we know he does good work.

First we had to get out the old heater, A Seaward 11
Gal. model. This is quite a bit more complex than in
a home as the unit is in a tight corner under the rear
state room bed. We had to drain the unit, detach the
115V electricity, fresh water hoses and the hoses
going to the engine (we can heat water either by using
115V power or by an engine coolant heat exchanger in
the water heater). Stan's nimble plugging of the
engine coolant circuit prevented us from losing very
much liquid. Then we removed the mounting brackets
for the heater and tried to lift it out. Oops! One
of our Group 31 house batteries is in the way - so we
disconnected and removed it and then lifted out the
water heater.

When we got the old heater up to the shop we removed
the cover and found the hole in the tank. It had
corroded through! Wait a minute, this tank is
Aluminum! We thought we had a stainless steel tank!
A quick check of the manual shows we misread the
specifications... This water heater only has a
stainless steel outer case, Duh!

Also, the only water heater we could get in a
reasonable time period is also aluminum, oh well.
It's a Force 10, 11 Gal. When this goes, we'll
replace it with a true Stainless Steel unit (It turns
out that there are very few on the market).

We are also looking into putting on a magnesium anode
to cut down on the corrosion. While these are
standard on home units, very few marine units come
with them.

The Force 10 is the same size as the Seaward, but the
attachments are in slightly different places. Also
the mounting brackets are on the sides instead of the
ends. So we had to work with Stan to make everything

At 1:00 Tuesday afternoon we were all done, so we
fired everything up... Works like a champ - Hooray!

We did have a slight drip that we discovered later.
So Stan came back over Wednesday morning to find it
and tighten one joint. The leak was about 6 feet from
where the water was pooling and it was, very slow...
So it took some detective work to find.

So at 11:00 Wednesday we left Canoe Cove for Port
Sidney Marina with the threat of a "Significant" Storm
for later in the day.

Port Sidney is only about 3 miles from Canoe Cove, so
we got there in no time at all - in spite of 25+ knot
head winds, fog with 3/4 mile visibility and 2 foot
choppy, sloppy seas.

We tied up and went to our favorite fish and chips
place in Canada: Fish on 5th. We like fish and
chips, we tried it lots of places up here. Haven't
found any nearly as good.

Later in the day, with the clouds gathering and the
wind gusting to 30+ we decided to stay on the boat and
cook one of Shannon's chickens... It was yummy.

Yesterday - Thursday - we spent a raining day onboard
doing boat chores. The video processor for out Runco
flat screen died, so Bill routed a S-Video cable from
the DVD player over to the screen. We had a jury rig
of two cables spliced together and duck taped overhead
in the cabin, but we wanted more shipshape
arrangement. So, we routed a cable of the proper
length alongside the wiring harness that traverses the
cabin up along the forward bulkhead and down the
starboard side. This required disassembling and
reassembling the Computer/AV equipment locker,
emptying lockers, taking the wine cabinet apart,
creative snaking under the cabin sole, replacing the
video processor with two books so the equipment still
stacked properly and a lot of head scratching. The job
took all afternoon.

This evening, with the rain pouring down, was a good
time to enjoy the last of the crab with a light sauce
(olive oil, sweet red pepper, sambal and garlic) over
pasta. We aren't starving, as you know, but our weight
is not increasing.

This morning, it's overcast, cold with showers
forecast for later today with another 1/4 of rain
likely. Today's chore is to replace the raw water
pump in the heat/air conditioner. It sounds like the
bearings are going out in the pump and we want to fix
it before it breaks! The thrum thrum thrum of the
pump also wakes us up sometimes when it runs at night.

Tomorrow, weather permitting, we'll had back over to
Maple Bay for a Dinner party at Rob and Shannon's on
Sunday night.

That's the latest from Raptor Dance!

Warmest Regards,
Mary and Bill (we both wrote major sections of this


Bill's Onion Soup (Best made in a pressure cooker -
ours is a 6 Quart)

3 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 Pounds Onions, Sliced (more is OK - you want to
basically fill your pressure cooker pot with raw
sliced onions)
1 Tbsp Flour
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tsp Brown Sugar
1 Cup Beer, suggest a nice flavorful ALE, such as a
Pale Ale (more is OK, I've often used the whole
6 Cups Beef Stock (or water + lower salt, beef bullion
or use more beer!)

For serving:
1 slice of toast per person
shredded Gruyere cheese

Heat the oil in your pressure cooker and add the
sliced onions. Cook on high, stirring occasionally.
You want the onions to sweat out their moisture and
cook down. You want them to slowly turn light brown
as the liquid cooks out and their sugars caramelize.
You want to stir frequently enough so the color is
even, you don't want any medium or dark brown color.
This should take around 30-40 minutes (depending on
how many onions you're cooking).

Then reduce the heat to low, add the flour,
Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar - stir frequently
for 5 minutes.

Then add the beer and beef stock and turn up the heat
to high and close the pressure cooker. Cook under
high pressure for 20 minutes. If you don't have a
pressure cooker, you can simmer the soup in a regular
pot or dutch oven for 2 hours, but you may need more

Turn off the heat and allow the pressure to release
naturally as the pressure cooker cools.

Spoon the soup into bowls, float the toast on top of
the soup and sprinkle shredded Gruyere cheese on top
to cover. You can then pop under the broiler to get
the cheese bubbly and brown. Then serve.

We don't have a broiler on the boat, so we use our
electric heat gun (hair dryer on steroids - normally
used to shrink, heat shrink tubing and remove paint)
to get the same effect.


September 14, 2005

On to Nanaimo and Telegraph Cove

Hi Everyone,

After heading south to reach the sunshine, we finally found it in Vancouver...at least part of the time. We had been moving every few days so it felt good to settle in for a bit.

We stayed at False Creek Yacht Club in Vancouver for a week and would have stayed longer if it was possible. All their slips are occupied by yacht club members. So it is only when someone is traveling that there are slips open for visitors. This is located in False Creek on the city side, at the second bridge. It is directly across from Granville Island, so we just had a short dingy ride to the shops and restaurants, (and West Marine) on Granville Island. Oh yes, we had to check out the tour and tasting at the Granville Brewery.

While we were there the Fringe Fair started. This fair's purpose was "to ward off mediocrity". Those wishing to be part of this entered their names in the lottery. Once picked, they could perform any sort of entertainment, without censure for an hour and a half. It was good to see reviews of the presentations. There was quite a range of style and quality, with a few listed as recommended.

We enjoyed the Yacht Club and their quite reasonable dinner selections. Rack of lamb...that works for us! Unlike the YC's that we are used to, which are busiest during the weekend, False Creek Yacht Club is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Friday and are closed over the weekend. There are many places close by to cruise to, so members leave on the weekends.

The cruising season is pretty well over now. The members are all back in their slips so we had to leave or stay in the one remaining spot under the Granville Island Bridge.... and get bombed by the perching sea gulls...

We did have a great time during the week in Vancouver, taking lots of long walks, going to the Maritime Museum, exploring different parts of the city and enjoying new restaurants. But of course we had to return to Chinatown for some yummy Dim Sum. The city is actually small enough that we could walk to most places we wished to go.

During this week we did have one night of over 35 knot winds. The most exciting part of that was the Coast Guard boat going full throttle past the marina on the way to a boat fire. We definitely rocked on that wake. At least one 30 foot powerboat bounced onto the dock and back into the water, suffering some damage. We were fine, nothing more than a bit of rocking.

Our next stop was Nanaimo. I'm not sure if the folks who recommended this town did so because they have a sweet tooth. One of Nanaimo's claim to fame is a sweet convection named after the town, the Nanaimo Bar. I suppose that we must at least try one (we did, see below).

Again, we are getting lots of exercise walking. It's a good thing. On Monday, Sept 12th, we stopped at Armani's Restaurant and ordered his mushroom burger. It was very tasty but huge. We had to take at least a pound of the mushrooms in a doggy bag. They'll be great on our
mushroom pizza later. Since we had it for a late lunch, we didn't need dinner that night - in spite of a 5+ mile walk on Monday.

We also really liked Acme Restaurant (no relation to where Wily Coyote buys his stuff). Sort of a West coast eclectic fusion cuisine, but not at all pricey. They have a selection of dishes from
creative soups and salads to sushi. Quite good. We went there twice - once dinner on Sunday and once for lunch on Tuesday.

One thing that is noticeable is the greater number of sail boats in Nanaimo compared to elsewhere in the North West. Open water and wind is more accessible. The Straights of Georgia are just a mile or two away.

Right now, Wednesday, Sept 14th, we've stopped in Telegraph Cove for One Night. Tomorrow, we're off to Chemainus for two nights, followed by Maple Bay on Saturday.

Warmest Regards,
Mary and Bill

The Original Nanaimo Bar recipe:

The Nanaimo bar has a notable thermal significance. During Nanaimo's heyday as a major coal mining area, families of miners sent care packages which often included this sweet treat. Dubbed a "Nanaimo Bar" the cake travelled well on the journey from the miners' families homes in the UK and brightened the spirits of the workers underground.

The Nanaimo Bar consists of three layers and looks a bit like a brownie, except for the cream colored middle layer.

These guys are tasty, but very sweet, rich and calorie packed. We shared one between us (over 4 days!).

For 16 - 2x2 inch Nanaimo Bars:

Bottom Layer:

1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter (pref. Euro-Style cultured)
1/4 Cup Sugar
5 Tbsp Cocoa
1 Egg, Beaten
1 3/4 Cup Graham Cracker Crumbs
1/2 Cup Finely Chopped Almonds
1 Cup Shredded Coconut

Melt the butter, sugar and cocoa in the top of a double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken (don't stop whisking or you end up with lumps of scrambled egg!). Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut and almonds. Press firmly in an 8x8 inch baking pan.

Middle Layer:

1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter
2 Tbsp + 2 Tsp Cream
2 Tbsp Vanilla Custard Powder
2 Cup Icing Sugar

Cream butter, cream, custard powder and icing sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer.

Top Layer:

4 Oz Semi-Sweet Chocolate
2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter

Melt chocolate and butter in double boiler. Cool. When cool, but still liquid, pour over middle layer and chill the pan in the refrigerator until the bars set.

Cut into 2 inch squares and enjoy!

September 4, 2005

Back to Vancouver

Hi Everyone!

After we left Oleo's last Saturday Aug 27th, we headed back through the Dent and Yaculta rapids in a downpour. Yes, more rain.

The rapids themselves were totally uneventful. The trick is to go through around slack current according to the Canadian Tide and Current tables. There was a fair amount of other boat traffic, but everyone was well behaved.

We then anchored back in Squirrel Cove and had 1 day of good weather. On Monday, Travis and Barbara joined us on Bar-T-Na and we had a lovely evening playing Mexican Train dominoes.

Finally on Wednesday, the 31st, after daily rain - we both had enough. Time to head South. We were originally intending to visit a few more anchorages in the Desolation Sound region, but we were both going wonky from the all the crummy weather.

Out next stop on August 31st and Sept 1st was Garden Bay in Pender Harbour. Pender is an interesting place with at least half a dozen marinas with pubs, restaurants and small stores. There is even a small shopping center across the bay. We hiked up to a local lake and generally walked around a bit. The local mosquitos were active but they've changed their taste. For some reason Bill is the preferred taste treat instead of Mary.

On Friday Sept 2nd we continued on down the coast to Gibsons Landing in Howe Sound. How is just up the coast a little from Vancouver. Gibsons is at the far side of Howe Sound, so although it's on the mainland, there's no connection by road across the sound, only ferries. Still it's a fair sized community with lots of little shops and a small shopping center. The marina was full for the weekend with boaters on holiday from Vancouver. This is labor day (actually it's labour day) weekend up here in Canada too! The best things in Gibson's were Mike's place for great gelato and the latest DVDs (we rented two over the two days we were in town) and the Bayview Szechuan Chinese Restaurant.

This morning, Sunday the 4th, we headed down back to Vancouver and tied up at the False Creek Yacht Club across from Granville Island in Vancouver. We'll be here for about a week. Vancouver was one of our favorite places on our journey up and we're looking forward to spending more time in this lovely city.

It's also our 7th Anniversary! So we're looking forward to a nice dinner tonight to celebrate.

After we pulled in, Sam and Nadia Calmes from the Jeanneau 37 "Avanti" stopped by. They've been here in False Creek for about a week. They were with us on the Baja Haha and had been cruising in Mexico and Central America. They came up a few weeks ago on the same Dockwise Yacht Transport voyage as our friends on Barbara and Craig on Capella and Mona and Roger on Cherokee Eagle. Sam and Nadia will be heading up to Desolation Sound for a bit of a cruise before heading back to Seattle for the Winter and to sell the boat as Nadia is expecting twins ;-} We'll visit with them later today and share our favorite spots with them. We hope they have better weather than we did.

We're currently planning to be here in Vancouver for a week, then head over to the Gulf Islands for a few weeks. More later as our plans firm up.

We're going to cut our Canada trip a little shorter than we originally planned as we're tired of the lousy weather. More on our anticipated schedule as our plans firm up.

We're back in civilization, so our cell phones and regular email addresses work again!

Warmest Regards,
Bill and Mary

August 27, 2005

Some additional thoughts - at Oleo's

Hello again everyone!

We love hearing from you during our travels. Please feel free to send us an email and let us know what you're up to, how things are going, etc.

If you REPLY to our messages, PLEASE DELETE the text of our message to you. This winlink.org connection is over a slow speed high frequency single sideband radio connection and only runs at a few hundred characters A MINUTE. You can find out more about this way of sending a receiving email at http://www.winlink.org or http://www.sailmail.com

If you have any problems getting through on the winlink.org address, please drop me a note on our raptordance.com address and I'll fix it from our end.

Quite of few of you have commented that we talk about food a lot. Hey, we're foodies! The concern is that we must be gaining weight and blowing up like blimps! Good news, we're not! In fact, since I (Bill) retired I've lost weight and my waist is down from a 38+ to a loose 36. Mary's lost weight too! While we don't have a scale on board, clothes fit is the major indicator we use between weigh ins.

Also, in yesterday's email, I forgot to mention that as we stopped at Blind Channel and Oleo's on the way up to the Broughton's, you can read about those locations in our past postings:

Blind Channel:


Also, during this visit to Oleo's we met the mom, Ruth and had a lovely chat.

You can see all our old postings on our Web Log at:

We hope you're all having a great weekend!

Warmest Regards,
Bill and Mary

August 26, 2005

Port McNeill, Johnstone Straights and Points South

Hello Everyone!

We posted pictures, yesterday on our website of our August adventures. Be sure to check them out at http://raptordance.com

When we last emailed, we were anchored out at Dickson Island on Saturday Morning, Aug 20th. We left that morning in Fog and overcast and headed over to Port McNeill.

Mary was planning to fish, but we had to cancel that side excursion when the autopilot insisted on steering the boat in starboard (right hand) circles. With the fog and no auto pilot, there were enough hands on board to steer, watch for logs (there were lot's!), fish and land the fish if we caught any.

So, with "Car Talk" and "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" on Sirius Satellite radio - we hand steered the four hours over to Port McNeill.

After tying up in the Marina - we delved into the depths of the transom to figure out what was wrong with the autopilot. To get to it, we had to empty the lazerette, then take out the port propane locker. A quick look showed that the autopilot ram was fully extended with the wheel not even centered, but to starboard (right). Hmmm, out also came the starboard propane locker.

This one is more troublesome to remove as it's the locker with the active propane bottle. So we not only have to remove the vent/drain hose from the bottom of the locker, but also disconnect the propane solanoid wiring, and clip the tie wraps retaining the coiled propane hose that's extra length so we can remove the locker without totally disassembling the propane line.

Finally, with both lockers out, I could get below the rudder quadrant to the autopilot drive arm to fine the set screw and bolts holding in position had loosened and the arm had shifted from position.

First we tried centering and tightening the bolts. No, that wouldn't work. The whole drive arm assembly had slipped down on the rudder shaft and now the autopilot ram was abrading the stern through hull hoses (not good).

So, loosening the whole shebang, raising it on the rudder shaft and re-tightening was necessary. Done, now the test. Yes!!! The autopilot now could move freely! Task done (or so I thought).

Since we rarely have both propane lockers out, I took care of some other chores while in the transom area.

Our Seafrost refrigeration unit's "sight glass" is only accessible with the lockers out. So, I gave it a look. Hmmm, foam going by! That indicates an incomplete charge of R-22 refrigerant, we must have a slow leak (we had the service fellow, recharge a bit of R-22 in it before we left Alameda last September after 4 years - so it's a real slow leak).

The only repair person in Port McNeill doesn't have equipment for R-22 (one of the "sort of green" Freon replacement refrigerants). We have a "cruising kit" with the fittings and two cans of R-22 to use to recharge the unit when out on a cruise - but no instructions!.

Fortunately, Port McNeill has cell phone coverage and double fortunately, our service fellow back in the bay area answered his cell phone on a Saturday and talked us through the process of adding the gas to our unit. Two successes!

I also added an interference filter to our Marine SSB antenna tuner (also in the transom and only accessible with both propane lockers out), this was a project that I've had on the back burner waiting to do when I was in the transom. Without this filter, the transmitted signal from the Marine SSB gets into some of the boat systems and causes them to act up (e.g. the Autopilot does "S" turns, or "Snake Wake" as it's called). The filter is supposed to keep the transmit power going out the antenna and not running around the boat. We'll see how it works...

Buttoning everything up, that killed our Saturday.

Sunday, we had a great visit over to Alert Bay where we visited the U'Mista cultural museum and walked around town. See our website for the pictures.

Monday, we did laundry and other chores.

Tuesday, we did shopping and got ready to leave at the crack of dawn on Wednesday. Doing last minute boat checkouts, a strange noise was coming from the rudder assembly when turned from stop to stop. Oh boy, back into the lazerette and out came the port propane locker. Hmmm, the rudder cable seems a bit loose and the ends are "snapping" on the autopilot drive arm. tightened them up and buttoned up the locker and lazerette.

Wednesday, we left Port McNeill in overcast cold conditions at 6:15. Sunrise was at 6:30. We caught favorable currents until we were past Telegraph Cove and into Johnstone Straights. With virtually no wind, the sometimes fearsome Johnstone Straights were a piece of cake. We also had Neap Tide currents, so things were not bad in the current category either.

Plan A was to anchor at Forward Harbour. Conditions were so benign however that we continued the extra 20 miles onto Blind Channel where we spent the night.

On our trip down, we went from long underwear weather in overcast and cold conditions to warm, shorts weather in only 60 miles. We also saw multiple pods of Orcas - one male with an enormous doral fin, pods of dolphins and Minke Whales (we think, we need to get a whale book for positive ID).

The autopilot wasn't happy during the passage - so, at Blind Channel, into the transom/propane locker for the third time. I had over tightened the rudder cables. Ahhh Perfection!

While working away, we changed the engine oil and filter as it was due.

Thursday, we updated our website with pictures, fueled up, then motored over to Oleo's.

Today, Friday, we spent the day with Paul fishing for Salmon. Skunked again.

Tomorrow, we'll be heading back through the Dent and Yuculta Rapids, heading back to the Desolation Sound area.

That's the latest from Raptor Dance!

Warmest Regards,
Bill and Mary

August 19, 2005


Hi Everyone!

We left Sullivan Bay, Tuesday in rain showers. This Pacific Northwest weather is pretty depressing, a totally sunny day is pretty rare. Most days it's also fairly cool, only reaching the high 60s by mid-afternoon.

A short distance from Sullivan Bay, we anchored in Claydon Bay up Grappler Sound. We had a pleasant night at anchor and the Wednesday morning, Travis and Barbara on Bar-T-Na, joined us. Mary and Travis went off crabbing with Travis's lucky crab trap and finally success! the first pot had 4 keepers out of 7 total (the other 3 were real close to keeper size). Re-setting it with some bait fish, it had 3 the Thursday morning and a huge sun starfish. These were Mary's first successful catch of keeper dugenous crabs.

We also arose early Thursday morning to look for bear. They like to hunt on the beach at low spring tide. Claydon Bay is on the BC mainland coast, North of Broughton Island and is prime bear country.

Travis and Barbara spied a mother and cub from their boat, but by the time we got dressed and on deck they were gone.

We got in our dingy and went exploring.

In the next lobe of the Claydon Bay is an abandoned logging trestle and a broad beach at low tide. We slowly motored by, being very quiet, searching the beach and tree area. Nothing...

We went almost completely around the bay and started back.

Looking back, I saw a black spot emerge from the trees. Quickly changing direction, we crept closer...

It was a mother and cub!

When we got within a few hundred yards, we cut the engine and let the slight breeze and tide carry us closer. Fortunately, we were not directly up wind of the bears, so they remained oblivious to our presence.

We got within 30 feet of the shore where the bears were happy turning over rocks, some very large, noisily crunching their clams. The bears were about another 20 feet from the shore so we were at a safe distance. Bears can swim well and a mother and cub are not to be trifled with, but they showed absolutely no signs of distress or alarm.

At one point the cub wandered back into the woods and the mother, happily continued munching clams for another 20 minutes before she noticed he/she was gone and went huffing into the woods looking for her progeny.

They both returned 5 minutes later to the beach and continued hunting. After watching the bear for over an hour, we left them to their breakfast and went back to ours.

We had a great rest of the day Thursday, having breakfast with Travis and Barbara and cooking up our crabs. That night they came over for dinner. Mary made her world famous Crab Cakes and I made Pork Marsala.

This morning, it was very foggy, but when the fog lifted around noon, we left and went about 7 miles further up Grappler Sound to Turnbull Cove. Another lovely anchorage, with the usual trees, etc. Yawn...

We had lunch and decided to head down to Dickson Island to get ready to head across Queen Charlotte Straights in the morning to head either to Port McNeill or Sointula.

That's the news from Raptor Dance!

Warmest Regards,
Bill and Mary

August 16, 2005

Sullivan Bay Marina - The Broughton's

Hi Everyone,

Here we are in Sullivan Bay, North Broughton Island at 2:15PM, Monday, August 15th and waiting for the sun to come out. It's a little late today. Usually around 1PM we'll see some sun. Sometimes it's not until 4PM.

When we left Pierre's, we went just a short distance to Echo Bay. We met another couple, Ken and Carol Whitaker, on a Valiant 42, Whisper. Carol was not interested in fishing. So Ken and I went out to catch dinner. We did well with a couple of rock fish and several black cod, plenty for a couple of meals for the four of us.

Meanwhile Bill had several boat chores in mind. Usually each boat chore takes three times as long as expected. Bill completed these in record time, without tripling it. Even the ever popular boat chore: "Rebuilding the Head" (marine toilet). So we had time to check out the neat pictographs on the rock face. It was hard to imagine what they were meant to be but interesting even so. The "Bead Lady" also had a shop with all sorts of beautiful bead work, leather, paintings etc. in Echo Bay at Windsong Sea Village. It was a treat.

Then there is the "Crab Saga". We were still hopeful and placed our trap in a recommended area. No crabs took the bait but we did have a small flounder in the trap. Surprise, surprise! Naturally we reset the trap, 80' deep at high tide with 150' of sinking line and extra floatation. The trap was gone when we returned to retrieve it. It seemed suspicious, since it was not near a ledge or where a boat might snag it accidentally. We decided not to invest any more money in seeking crabs.

That night we did get together with other boats for a pot luck dinner. A couple of boats brought their fresh cooked crabs. So we did have our taste of local crab. It seems the crabs here are not as flavorful as those we buy at home from Northern California. It could be the different diet. Another thought was that most boaters clean the crab before cooking it but that it has more flavor if cooked before cleaning.

We discovered that many boaters in B.C. come prepared with a good sized freezer. Then they fish (salmon and halibut especially) and catch prawn and package and freeze their catch for the winter. Some had a near production line going freezing buckets of prawns.

It was here that we went to visit Bill Proctor and his museum. It was an interesting afternoon. Bill's museum contains all sorts of artifacts, from fishing lures and bottles to large lumber saws, all collected on the beach by him. It was quite an array of "junk". Bill is a local legend and author of some local best sellers, including "Full Moon, Flood Tide" a history of the local folks and folk lore of the area in the last 100 years or so.

The highlight in this area was the humpback whales we saw on three different days. "Show us your white bellies". OK, well it worked in Tonga!

It was time to move onward. we were overdue for some anchorage time. So we continued north to Berry Cove, Cypress Harbor, Broughton Island. We had this lovely little spot to ourselves. We thought we might see some bears but I think we get up after they have gone back to sleep for the day. Also we hoped to see the meteor shower but the sky was completely overcast.

Next Stop was Greenway Sound Marina, Broughton Island. I noticed going in that the water temperature was 64 degrees. Mentioning this to the owner, he said that is why the salmon have gone. They like 52 degree water. Also there is a greater concentration of Atlantic Salmon fish farms in the Broughton Islands than elsewhere in Canada. You all probably know what that means.

The best thing about here was the Greenway Sound Broughton Lakes Park. A dingy dock was right at the trail head. From there we hiked/climbed to the first lake, then continued on a "corduroy road" to the beaver dam and second lake. The corduroy road was very impressive. It is large logs laid horizontal on the long path. Originally it was to help shuttle the cut tree trunks down the hillside. It was a nice work out and we finished the day with a feast of pork Marsala and mushrooms with all the trimmings.

Onward to Sullivan Bay. This used to be a great fishing destination. They still seem to be doing fine as a marina, but the fishing has died out. There have been very few catches reported in the area. We have met some fine folks here. Yesterday Tom (5 years old) and Corey (maybe 10) spent the afternoon aboard with many question and much enthusiasm. They were a joy! We heard of Corey's plan to become a boat designer and Tom's, to become a spy. We had a fine time with their parents too.

We got to know another couple, Travis and Barbara Wills on BAR-T-NA. Travis really took me under his wing and gave me a lot of help on fishing...when to fish, what to fish with, where to fish for what type of fish, how to decide what depth to fish, what music fish like, etc. What a great help to me and he was so enthusiastic. This morning at 8:30 he and I went out fishing with salmon in mind. Barbara was happy to stay behind and continue painting (She is an artist and writer) and Bill was happy to catch a few more ZZZ's. Nope, Salmon weren't biting, no surprise. Pulling in the line, I caught another black cod.

Though the fish weren't biting, when I got back I found Bill byte'n! The public Internet computer in the restaurant was not working so Bill fixed it for another free meal. He also fixed Travis's computer which had a virus.

That's the news as of Monday. Tomorrow we head out to anchor again.

Warmest Regards,
Mary and Bill

August 11, 2005


Hi Everyone,

We haven't gotten very far since the last E-mail. We stayed at Pierre's for three nights. We had such warm greeting, we couldn't just run off. Pierre was right at the dock to greet us and help with our lines. What a wonderful smile he has!

It was a delight to find cleats instead of just the wooden rails to tie to. We have gotten used to tying around the wood on the dock itself but the cleats seemed luxurious, especially since they are so rare here.

Tova, who is much more than "just a pretty face" (as she calls herself) is full of energy and a lot of fun. She and Pierre know that folks come into the marinas for more than just moorage. They come to be social and have some fun. More about that later.

"Lady Di", Diane, the marvelous baker came right out to greet us too and chat a bit. As we walked into the lodge we were greeting with the aroma of freshly baked bread. Yum! As we looked further, we saw that there were cookies too. We didn't see the other treats because they were all gone. But there was a sheet available to place your order for the next morning... sticky buns, To-Die-For brownies, white or wheat bread, a variety of cookies and a luscious variety of pies. Double yum. They had a big sign on the front of the lodge saying, "Bakery". Many a boater cruising by has made a sharp turn into Pierre's, at the sight of that sign.

Another unusual thing they have here is a gathering room inside the lodge. We did use it one night when we had the (very local) grand Canadian National Backgammon Tournament. Ian from Fore Play won that. Also available was, wireless internet (Bill was happy), TV, games, a lending library, and laundry facilities. The water is colored the shade of tea by the leaves. So I decided to wait on doing the wash.

We had a little happy hour at 5 and got to meet everyone. I felt doing something different. So I made crisp tomato polenta squares with Parmesan cheese. Tova was reminding everyone that the next night required "appropriate attire". Everyone needed to wear a tie and/or a hat. This was for the pig roast pot luck dinner and karaoke. Sounds like a big night, doesn't it?

The tie thing went right to Bill's funny bone...his head. We still had his Halloween costume, a hat and tie of thick white unlaid braided rope. Everyone loved it! After asking what he was, Bill was ready with his reply. "I'm a frayed knot!" All of you who know Bill, know it is SO him.

I wore one of my nicer hats from on board and a scarf made of a pair of Bill's black socks (work leftovers) for a tie. Got lot's of complements. Other folks used duck tape, aluminum foil or a sail tie to make ties.

Now the karaoke, that was fun for awhile. It was good when everyone knew the words. But we didn't have many folks who were willing to give it a go on their own, maybe that's OK. I always sing much better in the car, driving down the road with the radio on loud. So we had the bit of karaoke but everyone was really more interested in the pig.

You should see the huge barbecue. It was donated by th Des Moines, Washington Yacht Club. It is an old huge tank lined with bricks. The spit is a boat's stainless steel prop shaft.

This was a good size pig. It was actually an elaborate process removing the pig and carving it. They have been doing this almost every week now. So they have the process down pat. It is a long day for Pierre and the pig. He starts roasting him at 7AM and it's ready around 6ish. There was plenty for everyone and even some to take for sandwiches the next day. And naturally everyone brought very nice side dishes. A good time was had by all. We highly recommend the pig roast and Pierre's.

So much for all the food stuff. When we arrived, Diane mentioned she had a problem with her computer. Aha, A challenge for Bill. He thought he would take care of that in a few minutes but it proved to be more complicated than he thought. And then one thing lead to another and hours later, all was well.

We kept hearing,"The salmon are coming. The salmon are coming". So we had to give it a try. Neither one of us is an accomplished fisher person. And one of us has no interest...Bill. So I am the designated fishing expert on Raptor Dance. I have a long way to go to expert though. The way it has worked out, Bill drives the dingy or the boat and I fish. So far, I know I can catch bottom fish, rockfish etc. Other people have been bringing in salmon, so we know that they are out there. Thus far the salmon have eluded me. Soon. After all, they are coming.

We felt very welcome here. We left feeling like we had made friends and look forward to returning. Check out their website at: http://www.pierresbay.com.

That's the news for now. We're now in Cypress Bay after stopping in Echo Bay. We'll tell you about those adventures next time.

Warmest Regards,
Mary and Bill
Raptor Dance

August 5, 2005

Pierre's Bay

When we last left our intrepid travelers, they were hunkered down with 2 days of pouring rain in Blind Channel Marina.

Since then, the sun came out and we've been on the move.

If you're interested, you can always find our current location on our website: http://raptordance.com under the "Where in the world is Raptor Dance? - Current Position" link. We undated that location as soon as we get to a new spot.

You can also go there directly via http://www.findu.com/cgi-bin/find.cgi?call=WB6JAO&units=nautical&relief=1
You can zoom out for a broader view or scroll down for a satellite picture of our current location. Right now, we're in such a remote location that you need to zoom out 4 or 5 times (the "-" button) to get a sense of where we are.

We've met many new people along the way and run across some folks who we've met in other locations. Most of the boats up here are power boats, but there are still quite a few sailboats. There are lot's of boats up here designed by Bob Perry, who designed the Valiant line. There are quite a few Baba's and Tayanas and an occasional Valiant.

Blind Channel was pretty nice, with all the amenities: nice docks, water, electricity, restaurant, small store, gas dock, laundry, hiking trails, Internet access, etc. The restaurant had some nice dishes with a German flair. We'd avise not picking the spetzle as a side dish, though it was heavier than it should be and not quite the right "bite". The flavors were good though.

After leaving Blind channel we headed up through Green Point Rapids and Whirlpool Rapids. After Whirlpool Rapids, we decided to continue instead of stopping for the night in Forward Harbour. Listening to the weather, Johnstone Straights Fannie Island reported only 12 knots of wind, so we continued on.

They lied, when we got there it was blowing 25 knots. Still no big deal though. Johnstone Straights was less bother than a typical summer afternoon on San Francisco Bay, where it often blows 30 knots at 3:00 PM every afternoon in the slot between the Golden Gate and Berkeley.

At 8:00 PM we anchored in Port Harvey, just up Havannah Channel from Johnstone Straights. It was a lovely calm anchorage and we had a very quite night.

Next morning we up anchored and motored around East Cracroft Island to Lagoon Cove Marina. Another funky, fun place. The owners, Bill and Jean Barber have a very rustic little marina with a store (fishing gear, chips and candy) and gas dock. Water was available. Lagoon Cove Power and Light was available 7AM to 1030AM and 4PM to 1030PM daily. One unique thing there is the happy hour. The owner, Bill, provides his daily catch of shrimp for Happy Hour and everyone adds to it with their dishes.

There are many opportunities for getting together on the docks and marinas. So when you head out cruising, go prepared with recipes and ingredients for appetizers and pot luck fare. One of our frequent appetizers is a plate of quesadillas. Tonight it'll be crispy tomato polenta with Parmesan cheese topping.

After our night at Lagoon Cove, we crossed Knight Inlet and up Tribune Channel to probably the most scenic place we've been so far, Kwatsi Bay. Max and Anca and their two children have a very nice little marina at the end of the bay. Kwatsi bay is a fjord, surrounded by very tall mountains with multiple waterfalls running down its sides. You can dingy over to a short trail to a great little waterfall. You're given an air horn in case you encounter a black bear.

We were at Kwatsi for two nights. The first night there was a happy hour pot luck (we did quesadillas). The second, there was a pot luck dinner. Lee and Diane on Sonata (an 85 foot home built steel motor yacht) caught 10 crabs (we're still skunked) and shared them with the group. Mary did a wonderful vegetarian Balti and pine nut couscous. There were lot's of other tasty dishes too. The food was definitely a few notches up from the usual pot luck fare.

After 5 days of sun, we woke up to a very foggy morning. It's now almost 4 PM and it cleared a bit to overcast skies. This was the first time since arriving up here that we thought it was a good idea to turn on our Radar.

We left Kwatsi just before lunch and motored over to Pierre's Bay where we are now. When we docked, we were met by Pierre and "Ms. Pierre Bay", his wife Tove. There's a lot going on for this little place off in the middle of no where. Check it out on the web at http://www.pierresbay.com/

This is also the first marina with cleats! All the others have these dock rails that are a pain to tie and untie to.

We'll be here for two days as we're staying for the "Pig Roast" tomorrow. I wonder if it will be anything like the "Pig Pickin's" they do down in North Carolina.

More news later.

Warmest Regards,
Bill and Mary

July 30, 2005

Blind Channel Resort and Marina

Hello Everyone!

Well, the weather on the VHF radio from Environment Canada last night and this morning, waffled about a low front approaching just North of here. They weren't sure where it was headed and how strong it might be. They were talking definitely Gale warnings and possible Storm warnings (Storm warnings are even less fun with winds over 48 knots!). So we diverted this morning and headed to the Blind Channel Resort and Marina in Mayne Passage rather than head up Johnstone Straights where the crummy weather is forecast.

Blind Channel Resort and Marina has Wifi with a satellite link, so today and tomorrow we'll have Internet access. Still no phone coverage here though.

We ended up staying two nights at Oleo's Floating Restaurant and Marina. A very unique place. The Montoya family owns and runs Oleo's. Leon Montoya is the very charismatic 78 year old father. He's the famous character that everyone raves about, but the rest of his family is equally charming. Paul the son (in his 20s) is managing the place and handling all the upgrades, repairs, docking, etc. as Leon is off in Quebec taking care of the arrangements as a great uncle passed away.

Katrina, the daughter, runs the restaurant as Ruth the Mom was feeling under the weather with a knee problem. It turns out Katrina is only 17 and a Senior in High School (she seemed very sophisticated and we first thought she was in college). The schooling is by correspondence course and it seems like having friends her own age is not easy.

Oleo's has four entree choices for dinner: crispy duck, Louisiana chicken, stuffed peppers and cabbage rolls. We had the duck the first night and the chicken last night. Both were yummy. Dinner also included a nice greek salad (a feta complee!) and chocolate cake for dessert. Interesting, ay?

Note, we're picking up the Canadian language. "Ay" is VERY Canadian. So is, "You betcha" and "Don'cha know". We love it. It always brings a smile to our faces when we hear it.

Paul is also an experienced fishing guide. He used to guide for some of the big resorts nearby at $85 CDN per person per hour, but now he's running guided fishing trips on his boat from Oleo's at $20/hr. He want's it to be affordable for most folks. We thought this would be a good opportunity to learn and signed up to go yesterday morning (Friday, July 29th).

So we went with him Friday morning at 6AM. One other fellow went with us. So there we are, cool not cold, the first boat at the fishing ground as Oleo's is only a mile or so from the choice area. The other resorts are miles away.

Soon we were joined by a large group of small boats, all with guides and their clients. The way it works is we decide on a rotation, of who gets to handle the first fish on the line, second and next. Mary would have liked for the other gent to go first so she could see how to handle the fish. He was trying to be gentlemanly and insisted that Mary go first.

OK, so first hit... Paul sets the hook and Mary reels it in. It's a dog fish, a type of shark. It's released. Mary's still waiting for her turn with a salmon. We all are!

Finally, another fish strikes... Paul sets the hook... Mary reels and reels and reels. It's another dog fish. Her arm is getting tired already.

More than two hours have gone by and so our guide thinks he'd better check the bait, make sure it's still there.

On the way up, we get another strike...oh no. Is it another dog fish? No, it looks like a salmon. So Mary's reeling like crazy, listening to the instructions being yelling at her, getting excited. Mary was concentrating so hard she didn't see the fish! However, the other three of us could see that it was as fantastic 25 pound Spring (what the Canadian's call a King Salmon). It was fighting an jumping trying to throw off the hook and escape the holographic "flasher" about 3 feet up from the anchovy.

Unfortunately, he got away. He or she spit out the hook... Barbless hooks are used here by law, so that makes it much more difficult. You have to keep tension on the whole time or the fish comes unhooked!

The rest of the morning (until 10AM) was very quiet. How disappointing but fun. We did learn a lot.

Reeling in the lines, we caught a nice Quillback Rockfish - so we had rock fish tacos for lunch again.

Friday afternoon, Paul took another group of four out and the fish were biting like crazy and everyone got their limit in only 2 hours! Can you believe it?

We are going to try it from our boat as we go along. The equipment we have is for salmon fishing in California though. Here the fish much deeper and you need a down rigger and different gear.

More on the fishing story... The other gent got a bite and lost it. He thought it was probably a dog fish, Paul thought a small Salmon from the way the fish fought.

Bill never got to his turn. So nicely Paul only charged us for one person.

Paul is a great fishing guide and we'd recommend him highly. He's very knowledgeable and very inexpensive.

The Montoya family runs Oleo's the way things used to be! Highly recommended.

Katrina also bakes bread and cinnamon rolls for sale in the morning and does breakfast and lunch on request.

We did have some unexpected excitement last night. As we and the folks from two other boats were having dinner, we watched as another big power boat (a classic 50 foot Ocean Alexander, built in the late '70s or early '80s) started to come in. We were thinking and saying, "Where is he going? What is he doing?" He was all over the place. Then he started backing in and hit one boat and sent the dock reeling.

That cleared out the restaurant, small as it is. We all ran out to try to help. The Captain (alone without anyone else on the boat) definitely did not have control of his boat. Next he swung wide and our boat looked like his next target. So Bill ran to our boat, ready for defensive measures, if necessary.

Mind you this was all going on with almost no wind or current pushing his boat around...

Paul has a Captains License and offered to get on and park the boat for him. The captain kept up his inept efforts. Then finally said OK to Paul's help.

He had some difficulty too, not being used to the boat, until he found the bow thruster. It pushes the bow of the boat left or right as needed. The owner had not been using it. Now Paul was able to get the boat right in.

Whew! That was the only adrenalin rush we have had since we've been here. It took us all a little time to wind down. We all returned to our meal in the restaurant. It seemed everyone reached for a little more wine too.

Poor captain. We didn't find out until the next morning what the story was... We were pondering what his problem might be: new boat to him? Inexperience? Too tired? He stole the boat and didn't know how to drive? His crew deserted him? Or what? I'm sure he was mortified.

Next morning, we found out that he owned the boat for many years and was a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary. You'd think that means you know how to drive, but obviously, Nooooo! He'd been driving since early morning a long way from a place called Kwatsi up in the Broughton's. Most folks take 2 or 3 days to go that far. He was very, very tired and just lost it.

He left first thing in the morning before most folks got up - Paul had backed him and docked the boat (otherwise he wouldn't have been able to get off his boat as it was longer than the dock space available. So he could easily leave going forward. We would have left early too after the fiasco last night, if we were him. Whew again!

There is a nice German Restaurant here and hiking trails. So tomorrow we'll probably go hiking in the rain.

Warmest Regards to all!

Mary and Bill

July 28, 2005

Oleo's Restaurant - Frederick Arm

Hello Everyone!

We had a great four nights in Von Donop Inlet.

We caught some Rock crab and cooked them up (very nice, but there's so little meat per crab, they're not worth the bother) and 6 rock fish - very tasty. We lightly sauteed the rock fish fillets in butter, we had them for dinner one night and fish tacos the next day.

Dungeness crab were not around, not a sandy enough bottom. We'll try again for them further North.

Yesterday (Wednesday the 27th) our very good friends Chris and Julie James arrived in Von Donop on their classic Stevens motor yacht. I've know them since the the mid '80s from California Yacht Club in the mid '80s in Marina del Rey and they also were just down the dock from us in Alameda at Mariner Square, before they cruised up to the Pacific Northwest in April 2004.

We had a great time catching up yesterday afternoon. We all had a great Indian tomato vegetable balti that Mary made using the great Indian spices she bought at the Ganges farmers market on Salt Spring Island on July 2nd.

This morning, we raised anchor at 8 AM and headed for the dreaded Yaculta (YEW-cla-ta), Gillard and Dent Rapids. These three rapids are right in succession and they can be quite fearsome with currents in excess of 14 knots on the spring tides (We motor at 7+). The rapids also have tidal rips, whirlpools and overfalls (basically waterfalls in the middle of the channel). The last rapid of the series, also has the dread "Devils Hole", a great boiling cauldron of white water in the middle of a giant whirlpool. We've seen impressive pictures of boats going through the rapids and getting rolled. Boats have also been sunk and lives lost when boats capsized in the rapids.

So we did a LOT of planning to make sure that we went through at a neap tide slack! The strategy was to arrive at the first rapid, one hour before slack and proceed through all three in succession, reaching the last just as the tide turns to have the current carry us through. We did fine, we arrived actually 10 minutes early and made it through all three with only a little bouncing around in the rips and eddies. We never had a current exceed 2.5 knots going through.

Just beyond the other side of the rapids, we pulled into Frederick Arm and docked at "Oleo's" a funky little dock floating in the middle of an inlet off Frederick Arm. The dock is not connected to land, it's just in the middle of this little inlet. The dock has two 50 dock fingers in the shape of a U. Across the bottom of the U is the restaurant and the families residence. The family serves dinner every evening for up to 10 people and moorage is included in the price of dinner - $22 CDN per person. We'll report back on the food - it's supposed to be very good. There are two other boats here with us, so dinner tonight will be for 6.

Oleo's is run by a family of four, the mom and dad run the place, the daughter is a senior in college up here and the son is the fishing guide. Tomorrow we're going out with him to try our luck catching some salmon. We've got a lot to learn so we'll be taking lots of notes.

That's the news from here! We hope you all continue to have a great summer!

Warmest Regards,
Bill and Mary

July 24, 2005

Von Donop Inlet

Hi Everyone!

We Left Campbell River on Friday, July 22nd with much more benign conditions than on our arrival. We waited until Noon to leave so we would not have a strong head current right outside the harbour. The current in Discovery Passage can exceed our boat speed!

We motored over to Manson's landing on Cortes Island to see if we could see if the farmer's market was still in progress, but we later found out that it's held a mile inland. There was also no space at the government dock for us to tie up, so we continued on to Gorge Harbour.

The entrance to the harbour is a narrow gorge (thus it's name), with petroglyphs on the northern most rock wall. As hard as we looked, we couldn't make them out. There's a really nice anchorage inside the harbour with a nice resort and restaurant. We anchored out as the bay was lovely.

On our way to drop the anchor, who should we see, but Dave and Debbie on Megabyte, the Maxim powerboat. They were on the Baja Haha with us and also on Dockwise. Dave took some of the pictures of Dockwise underway you'll find on our website as he traveled along on the voyage. We had a great chat with them that afternoon catching up on what they've been up to, good spots to go, catch crab, etc.

As soon as they unloaded from Dockwise in Vancouver, they provisioned and took off heading North, thinking they might try for Alaska this year. All the unseasonable bad weather that hit BC this year thwarted their plans. They were holed up most of the time in anchorages in the Broughtons and Fjord Land (North of the Broughtons) with tons of rain and gale force winds. So they changed their plans and are now headed back South.

Now that the weather has finally turned nice, we're headed part of the way that way. At least to the Broughtons.

Also, while in Gorge, we went for a nice 4 mile (round trip) hike to Whaletown, the next anchorage up. Nice walk, but not much there. There was one very small grocery/bait/boat supply shop, a library that is only open two hours a week on Friday afternoons and a few houses. It's main claim to fame is that the ferry stops there. We stopped along the way and had an Espresso at the only cafe on the island with a machine.

On our way back, we stopped for Halibut burgers at the restaurant before heading back to Raptor Dance.

This morning, we left Gorge and headed the 14 miles to Von Donop Inlet, long narrow twisty inlet (about 4 miles long). We're anchored in a little cove at the head end with trees all around and lots of wildlife (Otters, Seals, Eagles, Geese - no bears yet).

We set our crab trap as soon as we got here and 3 hours later, we had our first 4 Dungeness Crabs! They were all undersized though so we threw them back and reset the trap. Oh well, Fajitas for dinner today instead of crab.

That's the latest from here!

Warmest Regards,
Bill and Mary

July 21, 2005

Campbell River

Hi All,

We hope you are all fine and enjoying the summer.

We've just posted our most recent set of pictures on the website at http://raptordance.com, including some from the adventures, below.

Presently we are in Campbell River and preparing to move tomorrow morning.

When we last wrote we were enjoying ourselves at anchor in Melanie Cove, Prideaux Haven. There are several paths on land, so we did some hiking through the dense forest. This brought us to Laura Cove, another fine anchorage but smaller.

After a few days we were ready to move on. Teakerne Arm had been recommended to us because of the lovely waterfall, but not for anchoring. There are a few rings imbedded in the rock wall to use as a stern tie. Too bad the anchoring wasn't better. There are some good hikes nearby. So we just did a "drive by" and then headed to Squirrel Cove for the night.

Squirrel Cove was great...lots of lobes for anchoring. So while there were many boats, it didn't feel crowded. The store at the pier was very well stocked. There was also a gift shop with creative offerings and a restaurant. We chose to eat at Marilyn's, whose speciality is cedar plank smoked salmon. Yum.

That was where we saw our first eagle.

One of the other interesting aspects to enjoy at Squirrel Cove is the (sometimes) connecting lake. In fact getting there is half the fun. There is a small stream that will allow a dingy to pass through at high tide. No motor is needed. In fact, it is still too shallow and there are too many rocks to have your motor in the down position. So you just position yourself in the mouth of the stream and sort of guide yourself with your oars as the "rapids" push you through. These are called the reversing rapids.

OK, so now you've (we've) explored the lake, watched the little fish and big star fish and are ready to return. If you've planned well, slack has passed and the rapids have now reversed. This doesn't happen quickly though, since the cove water is still higher at slack than the lake. We are getting mellow by now. So we pulled into a shady spot, relaxed and chatted with other boaters. Some folks had had enough of the lake and were ready to get back to their boats and have happy hour and/or dinner. It was wonderful. They made it through but not without a lot of fuss. The men were up to their hips in the stream trying to pull the dinghies through.

Meanwhile the others were trying to push from behind, row, or push off the rocks with oars. They felt they had accomplished something and we had marvelous entertainment.

We never did wait for the rapids to reverse. When the water level was high enough, we were able to motor through with the motor in the mid position.

After a few days at Squirrel and no internet access for over a week, it was necessary to move. So we headed south to Cortes Bay which supposedly has wireless thru the entire bay. That turned out to be true. BUT with the high winds and the boat swinging around, it was difficult to keep the directional antenna in the correct position. That, plus the thought of an uncomfortable night at anchor (the winds were already over 25kph) made us decide to up anchor.

Campbell River was our next destination. We had already arranged for our mail to be sent there. We had a rollicking good time crossing to Campbell. The winds were 30 to 35, but the swells were not bad, 3-4 feet. So, "No Worries Mate". Except that we still had our dingy in the water, towing it as most folks do in these parts. We were a little nervous about that, not wanting it to flip with the motor on. As we watched it though we could see it was doing quite well. And we were so happy to have our hard dodger protecting us from the ocasional aggressive waves.

So here we are in Campbell River. Many other boats joined us for a protected dock. We are back in civilization...a real town, with shops, movies restaurants, and our mail, the works.

Bill has spent quite a bit of time with boat chores and updating the software on our computers. We are fully stocked and ready to roll tomorrow, not expecting to find much in the way of provisioning for weeks.

Yahoo! We are ready to finally catch some fish and crabs...none as yet. Wish us luck.

Bye for now.
Mary and Bill

July 14, 2005

Melanie Cove, Prideaux Haven

Hi everyone!

In the last few days we've been tooling around Desolation Sound. We're now in Melanie Cove in Prideaux Haven (Not to be confused with Pardo haven, where Don Pardo hangs out... but that would put our boat in Jeopardy! Any questions?).

After leaving Refuge Cove on Tuesday, July 12th, we went into an absolutely beautiful anchorage up the Malaspina Inlet on the Gifford Peninsula, Grace Harbour. While the books say everyone ignores Grace Harbour, we did have about half a dozen other boats with us.

There's supposed to be good hiking around the harbour, but with all the rains, the main trail was knee deep in mud. So much for the hike.

We also met Brad and Darlene Simmons on "El Bucanero", a power boat from San Diego. There boat is interesting in that it's designed after the east coast lobster boats. It's similar to a Hinckley Picnic Boat, but a manufacturer I hadn't heard of before. A nice boat for a couple - in a cold climate. It would be too hot in a place like Mexico.

On Wednesday, we moved over to Okeover Landing in Okeover Inlet, at the far end of the Malaspina Inlet. The landing is a tiny government dock with room for about 3 or 4 boats in addition to the small fishing boats that are permanently there. No water or power, nothing really to recommend it over anchoring - except for the "Laughing Oyster" restaurant a short walk up the hill ( see: http://www.laughingoyster.ca )

We had a fantastic lunch and made reservations for dinner. As it was Wednesday, they had their weekly buffet set out. It was good, but not as great as lunch. We recommend that if you go, you go when David, the chef, can personally attend to your food. It loses a lot sitting in a chafing dish. However, if you want a lot of pretty good food at a reasonable price, go for the buffet. We broke our rule about buffets after lunch was so grand, but the rule is now back in place.

Malaspina Inlet and Okeover are major shellfish farming areas - with pristine water. So between lunch and dinner, we walked up the beach and harvested about 15 nice oysters. At low tide, they were lying attached to other old shells on the beach, we didn't even have to pry them off the rocks. We brought them back to the boat, did a quick cook on the BBQ, shucked them and put them in the fridge for later consumption (we didn't want to spoil our dinner).

This morning, Thursday, June 14, we moved over here to Prideaux Haven, one of the most popular areas in desolation sound. Great views of the snow capped mountains in the background and a very nice anchorage. We anchored in the Melanie Cove arm of Prideaux Haven as it was a bit less crowded with more room. We got a nice spot in the middle of the anchorage, in 30 feet of water with lots of room to swing - so we didn't need a stern line.

That's the latest news from Raptor Dance.

Warmest Regards,
Bill and Mary

July 10, 2005

Inaugural Perry Rendezvous North

Hi Everyone!

Reminder - we have no Internet or cell phone coverage here, so please communicate with us via our Winlink.org or Sailmail.com email addresses. As we're often down in fjords (not Chevys), even our Iridium phone has spotty coverage.

We had lot's of fun meeting the folks at the Inaugural Perry Rendezvous North last night and visiting today. The party was much smaller than the big Perry Rendezvous in Pt. Ludlow in August.

There were 4 other Perry design boats in attendance 3 Panda 40s: Warlord with Wilf and Bonnie, Alcyon with Steve and Pauline and Silverfin with Dick and Rennie; a Baba 30 with Harry and Paula and us. A group of very interesting folks: When Dick was a graduate student studying vulcanology, he was 10 miles from Mt. Saint Helens when it blew and took some of the famous poster pictures of it. Steve is a glaciologist and fellow electronics geek - he had loaned some of his instruments to the science teams studying the eruption and it wasn't until this party that they realized that they knew each other from back then. Lots great stories.

Refuge Cove has been a good spot to be in right now. It's a safe haven in bad weather. We got here Thursday, just before a "not normal for this time of year" storm went through. Friday was windy and rolly but we were safe and sound tied up to the dock, boats were rafted to each other as the little dock here was over full.

This is also a very active marina because it has a good store for provisioning, fuel dock, laundry, showers and (expensive) pay phone. These stops are fewer and farther between now that we're beyond "civilization". Many boats stop for just a couple of hours and then are on their way. We re told that during the highest season 600 boats pass through in a single day.

Dock space here is first come, first served with no reservations, just a big long dock where everyone needs to work out how they tie up on their own. As boats come and go all day, there's often lots of space between boats on the dock - not optimum packing. As there's no organization, you have to negotiate with the other boats to move down a bit to make room.

When we arrived space was tight and there were no open spots. As we temporarily rafted up to another boat, Bill ran the dock seeking a large enough spot. About 30 minutes later another boat left at the end of the dock. Spot found, beers promised, he enlisted neighboring Canadians to hold onto it for us. We raced right around the dock and tied up quickly. Did I mention that cleats don't seem to be used here. There is just another raised 4X4 rail along the dock to tie lines to. We miss cleats.

Anyway, our new neighbors didn't care about the beers. In fact they were very generous in sharing their catch. So we had tastes of the local oysters, clams and succulent shrimp. The shrimp were so good, we were tempted to buy a shrimp trap. But that would mean not only another trap but also another 300 feet on sinking line. So no shrimp trap purchased, yet.

The group of Canadians were a big extended family of 12 people on 4 small power boats. The largest was a 1970s era 24 foot Carver. The smallest, a 21 foot bow rider. It was definitely camping. As there wasn't much space on any of the boats, their party was held on the dock. When the rainstorm hit, we invited them on board Raptor Dance and we continued the party in our cockpit.

We did see lots of activity...boats getting in away from the rough seas and high wind. Then when calm came, most of the boats left and a new group filled right in. So we've been getting to know folks and hearing their recommendations as where the best places to go are.

We have definitely decided not to sail to Alaska (more of the same scenery, fewer people and boats, more bears and more rain). We will continue to explore Desolation Sound, The Broughtons, Gulf and San Juan Islands. We plan on ending up in Lake Union for the winter in Seattle in Early November before the weather turns cold.

We forgot to mention in our last email, arriving in Desolation Sound, we're now above 50 North Latitude - much closer to the North Pole than the equator. As a result they daylight hours have been quite long. For example, today morning twilight began at 3:37 AM , sunrise was at 5:21 AM, sunset will be at 9:27 PM and evening twilight will continue until 11:11 PM. This makes for a very long day, good thing we have blackout curtains in our stateroom.

The weather has also FINALLY turned nice, sunshine in the mid-70s today with continued high pressure building contributing to a great forecast for the coming week.

Warmest Regards,
Mary and Bill

July 8, 2005

Desolation Sound!

Hello Everyone!

We have been without any Internet connection since Tuesday - so if you'd like to contact us, please use our winlink.org address. We probably won't have connectivity again for a while. We're also currently out of cell phone range.

We're now in Refuge Cove in Desolation sound. We entered Desolation Sound yesterday afternoon.

After leaving Snug Cove on Bowen Island in Howe Sound on Tuesday, July 7th, we motored up to Secret Cove. The weather was pretty crummy with rain and light winds. We were comfy below our dodger and had no problems in the lumpy seas.

When we were in Mexico, we had our dodger poly carbonate windows replace as they were crazed and hard to see through. The new windows really made the rainy passage easy as we didn't have to stick our heads out in the rain.

We stayed in Secret Cove two nights. They have a nice store, and restaurant on the dock. The food was nice but unremarkable.

On Wednesday, Bill was reading the June issue of the local sailing magazine, 48 North, and noticed an announcement that a rendezvous was being held in Refuge Cove in Desolation Sound June 8 to 10th for all boats designed by Bob Perry (Valiants are one of his most famous designs). A quick look on the map showed that Secret Cove was only about 50 miles away - a long day's run.

So we called the organizers, Wilf and Bonnie Rennecke on the Panda 40, Warlord, to get the particulars. We huddled (always fun) and decided to go. So we signed up and planned to do the 50 miles in two legs. Leg 1 to Powell River, then Leg 2 to Refuge Cove.

Checking the weather Thursday morning, however, we heard that a front was forecast to come through on Friday with Gale Force winds in the area. So, instead we came all the way up to Refuge in one hop on Thursday.

We'll be here over the week end and give you a full report on the Rendezvous in our next email.

Warmest Regards,
Bill and Mary

July 4, 2005

Ganges, Long Harbour and Snug Cove

Happy 4th of July everyone! Here in Canada, the big day was July 1, Canada Day.

Over the last week, we spent Tuesday and Wednesday at Ganges Marina on Salt Spring Island. A nice small community with lots of artist's galleries, restaurants and shops. There are two wineries on the island, but they were a fair distance across the island and we didn't have a car - so we didn't visit them.

When we were docking in Ganges Marina, who should be in the next slip, but Wendy and Ken Richards on Poppy II, from the Sausalito Yacht Club. We met them on the SYC cruise to Half Moon Bay two years ago and they've since moved up here. Ganges Marina is their new permanent home.

We found three wonderful restaurants all within two blocks of the Marina. We'd recommend all three to anyone visiting Ganges. Piccolo was the fanciest place, with white tablecloths and great
food. We both had the Venison, quite outstanding.

We had dinner one night and lunch the next at Calvin's. We had the Salmon Tartar and bouillabaisse for dinner. For Lunch, Mary had a Lamb Burger and Bill had a Salmon Burger.

At the Oyster Catcher Restaurant, we both had the oyster and chips for lunch - yummy!

Wine up here continues to be problematic, however. We've been drinking mainly Lindeman's Bin 50 Shiraz from Australia, it's one of the few cost effective, drinkable (to our tastes) wines we've found generally available so far. At the restaurants, we've either been ordering a single glass of wine each from the by the glass menu, or skipping wine all together with dinner and having a glass back on the boat.

We also both had great massages in Ganges at the Eight Branches Holistic Health Center. We'd highly recommend it to anyone coming to visit. We don't know why they call it eight branches, though - they only have one location (Bill must have spent too much time working for banks)! Info is available on their website at http://www.8branches.ca

We also met Glen and Debbie Read from the Island Packet 40, Nootka. Glen and Debbie belong to the Seattle Yacht Club (SYC) and were going to the Canada day reciprocal party with the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club (RVYC) at their outstation in Long Harbour on Salt Spring Island. Since we were up cruising from California and members of reciprocal clubs, he arranged for us to get an invite.

Many of the larger yacht clubs here in the Pacific Northwest have outstations. The RVYC has 8! - see http://www.royalvan.com/club_offshore.asp

The RVYC Scott Point outstation in Long Harbour is particularly nice with a pool, clubhouse and lots of amenities. Unfortunately, universally, outstation privileges are not extended to reciprocal yacht clubs, so this party was a special treat. We did have to anchor out however. SYC has an outstation in Ganges Marina and some of their members drove over - but many anchored out.

The festivities started on Thursday with a pot luck. On Friday, July 1, Canada Day the day started off with a big Canadian/American Brunch. Following brunch, there were games of croquet, horseshoes, and lawn hockey - Canada vs. the US. Of course, the Canadian's won!

At 3:00 the Salt Springs Pipe Band entertained. Dressed in full traditional attire (kilts and all) The band played a number of the traditional selections (e.g. Scotland the Brave, Amazing Grace,
etc.). The nice thing about bag pipe concerts is that they're short! Actually, Mary says it was one of the best bagpipe bands she's ever heard.

Since we were impartial outsiders from wine country and a foodies, Bill got asked to be one of the three judges of the chili cook-off that started at 3:30. The 5 teams had a spirited time with their cooking, with lot's of "secret ingredients". All the chili's were pleasant, but pretty wimpy by our standards. They all lacked heat and had few flavor notes. One stood out slightly and it won. Of the 5 teams, it was also the only one with no leftovers at the end, an indication that everyone liked it best as well.

Dinner consisted of the Chili and side dishes. Dessert was a Canada Cake - a white cream cheese based sheet cake with Canada day decorations.

The evening ended with dancing with music provided by a local band "Faith and Desire". They played a good cross section of the usual soft rock songs.

During the weekend the best beverages at the party were the, on tap, Salt Springs Brewery's Pale Ale (Bill's preference) and Porter (Mary's preference).

On Saturday, July 2nd, Wendy was kind enough to give us a lift into town so we could visit the Saturday Ganges Market. We found a number goodies, including some local truffle goat cheese, bread, and indian spice mix (by a local gourmet).

While we were back in Ganges for the day, we also met John and Diane VanDerbeek and took a tour of tour of their wonderful yacht, the M.V. Olympus, a 97' fantail motor yacht built in New York in 1929 see: http://www.nwmaritime.org/news/news_49.html and

Sunday at 8:00 AM we pulled anchor - or tried to. The anchor and chain was very muddy, so Mary worked the windless while Bill worked the chain brush. Our chain brush is a handy gadget made of three scrub brushes mounted on a triangular holder that fits on the end of the boat pole. When it's worked up and down at the water level it does a great job of scrubbing the mud off the chain.

Halfway up, we found an old rusty, shellfish encrusted bicycle with basket entangled in our anchor chain! Gosh, how are we going to get that off! We already stowed the dingy. If we get that mess close to the hull, it will scratch up our lovely boat!

First we tried the boat hook, but the bike was too heavy - it kinked the pole's tubing (we fixed the pole later by sawing off the end and re-installing the end fitting). Then we pulled the bike up closer to the bow pulpit and Bill got down on his stomach and reached down to untangle our chain from the bike. It was pretty well wrapped around the bike's pedal crank. After 15 minutes of twiddling we finally got it free! The anchor came up the rest of the way, no problem.

We then left Long Harbour, went through Active Pass right on slack and crossed the Straights of Georgia again, heading for Howe Sound.

We arrived around 2 PM at the Union Steamship Co. Marina in Snug Cove on Bowen Island - North and West of Vancouver, see: http://www.steamship-marina.bc.ca/

Another nice community by the marina. Their Sunday art and craft fair was in full swing.

Today we had coffee and chocolate at the Cocoa West Cafe - the island's chocolatier. Good stuff! We liked their chocolate better than the chocolatier's in Ganges on Salt Spring.

Tomorrow we're off to our next destination - as soon as we decide where it is ;-}

Update! We decided to go to Secret Cove, it's about 30 miles up the coast on our way to Desolation Sound - see http://www.secretcovemarina.com/

Warmest Regards,
Bill and Mary

June 29, 2005

On to Ganges

Wednesday June 29, 2005

Brrr. It’s still cool but we are having fun.

Bellingham turned out to be a fine marina. As we pulled into our slip, Mike Kirkland (past commodore of the Bellingham Corinthian Yacht Club) noticed our Yacht Club Burgees. We did not turn down his offer of a free reciprocal slip, where we stayed for four nights.

Squalicum Harbor (http://www.portofbellingham.com/marinas/sql/default.htm) was walking distance to town but even better, the Marina has a shuttle to take us wherever we wished. We hit Costco, Best Buy and the local supermarket, Haggen’s to provision.

It is still a small world. The beer can races were called the next day due to rain (usually not a reason) and possible thunder and lightening. Some of the local racers, from the same dock, came by the boat to chat. One was Mike Reed of Islander (an Islander 36), who was on the Baja Haha as crew on At Last. He was the one who took those great picture of us with the spinnaker flying – see: http://raptordance.us/Sailing3/index.html

We ended up meeting a big group of the displaced racers for a beer…a really great bunch. In a few days we met quite a few friendly and helpful people, including local author, Clyde Ford (see http://www.mysticvoyagerbooks.com) on Mystic Voyager, who gave us suggestions on places to stop in the Broughtons (north of Desolation Sound).

Just as we were casting off in Bellingham on Tuesday morning, we found another card left by Larry and Joanie Roteman of Synergy, who we had met in Paradise Village in Puerto Vallarta. They live up here, on Lummi Island (just across the bay from Bellingham).

We spent a day with a great local couple Loraine Boland and Ray Nelson on Allegro, who are friends of Bill’s ex-Wells Fargo colleague, Elaine Felter. They gave us the grand tour of the Bellingham area. And what would that be like without good food? We found a lovely Oyster Restaurant in the woods, overlooking a creek, that made our taste buds very happy.

Ah, but the main reason for being here was to have our water maker serviced. As it turned out, only diagnosis was accomplished. We will have the work done in November rather than taking the time now. We should be able to do without it in this area.

So now we are ready to start moving on. We took the little hop to Echo Bay at Sucia Island, of the San Juan Islands. The bay was so peaceful and the water, like glass.

The next day we headed back to Sidney to meet up with Gordon and Bruce, returning to Berkut, a Waterline 46. We compared notes, Gordon and Bruce, Sailed Berkut from Puerto Vallarta to Hawaii and then on to Canada. We came up on Dockwise. They got caught in a storm coming across from Hawaii which trashed their Genoa and washed their outboard overboard. We all agreed that Dockwise was a better choice.

The water was very interesting, all the rips, eddies and short standing waves. These were no problem for us or the boat, just an interesting variation. We were going with the current, so at times our speed was 10.8 nm over ground. Whoopee!

Customs clearance for us was a phone call. So far we’ve entered Canada twice on Raptor Dance and the US once. Each time we cleared over the phone. To insure that future crossings are as uneventful, we’ve got a US Customs I-68 – see: http://cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/pleasure_boats/cbbl.xml and we’ve applied for a Canadian CANPASS http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/travel/canpass/canpassprivateboat-e.html. Each of these allow for telephone check-in when crossing the border.

This time we stayed at the Port Sidney Marina, http://portsidney.com, right in downtown. Talk about convenient! It was lovely. They had some touches that we haven’t seen in other marinas, such as the two hanging baskets of flowering plants at each slip, charming lighting and pet swans.

I must tell you, for the best Fish and Chips EVER, go to Fish at Fifth (on 5th St.) in Sidney. Excellent!

Canada day is coming up on July 1st. So the stores are full of Canada flags, socks with the red maple leaf, etc. We expect music, parties and fireworks. We’ll let you know if they have any different way to celebrate.

That brings us to the present. We are in Ganges on Salt Spring Island. This is north and east of Sidney. It was a short journey on this nice but windless day. You guessed it…more motoring. It appears that we are now a motor boat with auxiliary sails.

Salt Springs is know for it’s artisans, and it’s Saturday market, which has both art work, curiosities and fresh produce. We had fun walking through the shops in town. Much of it reminded me of some of our more colorful towns in the 70’s, even the 80’s…creative, fun and “out there”.

Some nice restaurants too! We’ll give you a full report in our next episode.

Warmest Regards,
Mary and Bill