It has been awhile since we have blogged. We took a 2 week break from the boating life to fly back to California for our son’s wedding. It was a wonderful occasion, attended by many family members, so it was a family reunion of sorts. Busy times, good food, lots of loved ones. Then came the furious clean up, closing up the house again, and back on the airplane to Washington.
The re-entry, switching gears, took a little while. We really miss our family. Particularly our 18-month old grandson, who changes and learns new things daily. You grandparents out there can relate. Eventually we got on track again, and started preparing for a new experience: Company aboard! We were joined by a couple Mike knew from work. We pulled into a marina about an hour before we were to meet up, and made a quick run to the store to have enough provisions on hand. We needn’t have bothered, because our guests arrived bearing gifts of food and drink! No one went hungry.
We boated out to Eagle Bay, on Cypress Island for our first stop. The next day we spent some time on the trails, hiking the north end of the island. Points of interest were Smuggler’s Cove, where we found some sea glass, and where there are remains of an old cabin in the woods. A single reclusive woman had lived there on her own. We tried to imagine the life she led. In the afternoon we pulled off our mooring ball and boated over to Spencer Spit, one of our favorite places to bum around, and a good anchorage. We spent the night, and after a brief walk on the spit, headed back to Anacortes to drop off our friends. Our experience with guests taught us that Voyager is well equipped to comfortably house another couple on board. That’s good news, because for the rest of August, we are hosting a steady stream of visitors. We look forward to the variety that will bring to our days, and we will enjoy sharing some of our favorite spots with our friends.
We returned to La Conner after dropping off our friends. I say returned, because La Conner has become our home away from home, at least on land. We are able to ship parts and purchases to the marina there, and we had a new tool waiting for us. Then we decided to make a second try to go to Canada before the next round of company arrives.
The checklist before leaving the dock out is WOBBS. We check the: coolant Water, Oil levels, Belts, Bilges, Seacocks and Strainers. If everything looks good, then we fire up the engine, check the gauges, and take off. This time, one of us, who shall remain nameless, closed the seacock in order to check the strainer, and then forgot to open the seacock again. The seacock is a hole in the boat that allows seawater in to cool the engine. With the seacock closed, no water can come in.
With all preparations made, we took off from La Conner, heading down the narrow and winding Swinomish Channel. It is very important to time arrivals and departures during a “slack tide,” when the current is at its weakest. In the narrow channel, it is not a good idea to have swift currents pushing you along faster than you can navigate the tricky turns. We timed it perfectly, and were almost to the narrow winding part when, WEEP! WEEP! WEEP! An alarm started up, and believe me, we were duly alarmed. A red button on the control board was lit up, and the engine temperature was climbing! In a channel you can’t just pull over and “look under the hood.” We knew we needed to return to the dock to diagnose the problem. I’m happy to report that our trusty Captain Mike managed to turn Voyager around in the channel, and we retraced our steps, the engine temperature gauge climbing the whole time. We fastened up to the dock, and discovered the problem – the closed seacock. The closed valve had caused damage to the impeller, which needed replacement before we could go any further. Canada would have to wait. Again. Fortunately, the previous owner left us a bunch of spare parts, and we had another impeller on board. Mike, being the mechanical one, replaced the impeller.
The delay was actually fortuitous, because we had a front row seat for some cultural entertainment. The opposite shore of the channel is Native American reservation land. The Lummi tribes were having a pow wow. There was drumming and chanting late into the night. We had a lot of fun watching the canoe racing. There were singles, doubles, triples, and then 7-man canoes. Our favorite though, were the 11-man canoes. It was impressive to watch the men working in perfect unison, and slicing powerfully through the water, with occasional chanting – HUH! There were kid races, women’s races, teens races. We enjoyed them all.
And so, at last, we head for Canada with our new impeller. Our destination is Oak Bay for customs. From there we plan to travel around the coast of Vancouver Island until we reach Brentwood Bay and a beautiful anchorage. We will anchor Tod Inlet, and visit Butchart Gardens, which we saw on our youthful wanderings 40 years ago. It’s about time we returned!