Posted by: Ann | September 6, 2022


Tuesday, September 6, mostly sunny

Final statistics

  • 2639 nautical miles => 3037 statute miles (imagine driving from Seattle, WA to Orlando, FL at less than 8 mph)
  • 421 engine hours
  • 657 gallons diesel

It’s a shame to end a trip filled with leisurely days working oneself to exhaustion, but this is the way of boat ownership. Putting Fifth Element away now will save a return trip to winterize in late fall.

Rick of Seattle Yachts is an expert and has a crazy sense of humor too: “Way to think inside the box” when joking with a co-worker.

So we spent the last week unloading, washing, cleaning, repairing, and making lists of things to be done “next time”. Jon especially works extremely hard flushing systems and polishing and buffing inside and out.

Hopefully we have enough done to depart for home today for the final phase: Re-entry.

Returning to Napa will be especially difficult due to the Extreme Heatwave gripping California. Yesterday, as we enjoyed low 55-70’s in Anacortes, Napa reported 113 deg F! In addition, we are reading news that many neighborhoods are going without power as transformers blow under the power load for cooling. Our closed up home will feel like a furnace.

So we will take our leave of this gentle climate with it’s calm passages, chortling bald eagles, inquisitive harbor seals, and the occasional grumpy bear.

Until “Next Year”,

Ann and Jon Fitch

Posted by: Ann | September 3, 2022

August 30, Sidney to Anacortes via Roche Harbor

Tuesday, Sunny

Fifth Element in Port of Sidney

10 am cast off. Not a terribly early start with only four hours return trip today, plus unknown US customs at Roche Harbor.

Crossed the Hecate Strait and into the US around 11:30. Jon was on the phone with Goldman Sachs because they lost all the Apple Card payments this month, from more than just us it turned out. Then had a wait for our entry to be processed via the CBP (Customs Boarder Patrol) Roam app, but happily we were cleared for entry without a video call required. We headed for Roche Harbor anyway for “docking and donuts” using the adverse current until 2pm as an excuse.

The formal garden at the Hotel de Haro

It was noon on the dot when we arrived at the dock and were greeted with the bells from the church tolling the hour then launching into a variety of musical selections starting with Hello Dolly. Given the hour, we decided to have lunch at the Limekiln Cafe- Cod Burger for me and Cod and Chips for Jon, chased down with affogatos from the walkway coffee/icecream bar. We took our freshly made vanilla frosted cake donuts to go for later. I dragged Jon through the garden to check whats in bloom, then…

1:40 cast off. In the “Speedin Channel, then the San Juan channel, Jon declared “my screen is full of boats”. We counted 26 in sight; quite a crowd – Welcome to the San Juan Islands!

3pm. Two short blasts off Broken Point from a ferry coming up fast from behind sent us scrambling for the mariner rule book. Couldn’t remember that it means ”I intend to leave you on my starboard side.” We were supposed to give the same in response if we agreed. Jon realized the ferry captain might have been trying to call on 16 but we were still on 78A for Roche Harbor.

In the Rosario Strait as we neared Anacortes Jon rain Fifth Element up to 65% then full throttle for a short time to “burn the carbon off” all the while expounding that there is no evidence to support that doing so has any effect on our electronically controlled common rail Cummins engine. It did demonstrate our ideal speed to fuel burn ratio:

  • At 65% power, 2400 RPM, 11.5 kts through the water, Fifth Element burns 11.5 gallons/hour.
  • At Full throttle, 2950 RPM, 16kts, we burn 20 gallons/hour
  • Compare that to our preferred 1250 RPM, 7.1 kts, we burn 1.6 gallons/hour!

5:50 Arrived at Anacortes Cap Sante Marina, our reserved spot WAY out at C-46, making it quite a workout to walk to Anthonys Cabana and to the boatyard to retrieve the truck.

Clouds over Cap Sante marina, Anacortes
Posted by: Ann | September 3, 2022

August 29, Nanaimo to Sidney via Ganges Harbor

HARMAC Pacific Pulp Mill

6:10 am Slipped the mooring as soon as it was light. Dodd Narrows ebbs at 5:58 but Jon said we can safely transit up to an hour later. Just south of Nanaimo, the dawn cast a loverly light on the HARMAC Pacific Pulp Mill that reminded me of the precisionist painting Classic Landscape by Charles Sheeler

7 am I was reminded Dodd Narrows is well named. It looks like you are heading into a wall of trees until you slip through the opening. Although the ebb should have been with us, as soon as we were through, we still had an adverse current in the Stuart Channel. We passed the time reviewing all our stops on this trip- so far totalling 2600 nautical miles.

11am Arrived Kanaka wharf, Ganges Harbor, Salt Spring Island. We were lucky to get a spot at this popular destination. The harbormaster happened to be at the dock and remided us the first two hours are free. We went up to Jon’s favorite cafe TJ Beans for his cinnamon rolls which he had ordered by phone earlier. He had a latte, but my mocha was awful; I watered the petunias with it.

TJ Beans makes great cinnamon rolls, good lattes but lousy mochas

I was able to get one of watercolorist Carol Evans books from the Coast Gallery. She’s famous for her renditions of water, but I still don’t understand how she does her trees. I feel my own tree filled backgrounds are a mess, although some look better after I put them aside for awhile

Although I’ve visited before, I didn’t think the gallery looked familiar. I was right. The one I visited before is Gallery 8, just beyond Coast Gallery, closer to the water on the east side of the outdoor mall. It’s the one with a full wall of Carol’s work, including an original on display today. $11,500 anyone? My question on whether she is still actively painting was answered in the affirmative.

We picked up some provisions from the nice grocery and had a chat with a new red AMTUG 34 owner (Mark and Linda Daniels(?), tug name ??? formerly Adagio) before casting off at 12:45

3pm ORCA SIGHTING OFF SIDNEY SPIT! We heard the call on the radio first; then it’s just a matter of looking for all the orange whale watching boats. They were calling other boats to remind them of killer whale protocols, but it sure looked like they ganged up and headed the orcas right past us. Jon got a great video; I’m pretty sure I saw 3 adults and a very cute baby.

3:25 arrived Port of Sidney. Luckily had called ahead for a spot. Walked up to the Starbucks, but it was closed contrary to hand-written sign on the door.

Had a delicious dinner at the Surly Mermaid with our friends Chris and Dave Schroeder who live within walking distance. It must have been an hour before our food was served, but we didn’t notice as we were busy catching up on our summer activities. It was lovely to see them again!

Port of Sidney with Surly Mermaid above and left of the tent and our dock B to the right.
Posted by: Ann | September 3, 2022

August 28, Westview, Powell River to Nanaimo

Our Dock last night at South Harbor is exposed to SE waves

Sunday, Sunny

We have a long day ahead, needing to travel the 20 miles south to Pender Harbor in addition to crossing the potentially rough Strait of Georgia south of Texada. Previously, we have usually stopped in Pender for the night.

8:20 Fuel Dock. Sadly for Jon, the cute attendant had abandoned her short shorts for sensible sweatpants.

8:45 Cast off from fuel dock and by 9am we were abreast of Grief Point. It looks like the Bliss Landing Hotel has effected repairs to their sagging marina docks. Had looked bad in May.

The wind was NW (from behind) and the going started well as we motored East of Texada and a bit out into the Strait of Georgia. We could cross directly since the Whiskey Gulf firing range is not active on weekends. However, as we got further out, it got really unpleasant which lasted the last two hours. The wind switched around to SW (from ahead) and even though it was 15 kts or less, there seemed to be a lot of chop left over from yesterday. We finally arrived at Entrance Island both feeling as if beaten around the torso with a stick. Jon’s knees were sore from standing in the rough conditions.

It was a bit of a challenge to find an empty mooring buoy. The anchorage, off a now brightly orangey-dry Newcastle Island, was chock full of boats, and it’s difficult to simply anchor there due to the numerous state park and private buoys. There were very few 40’ buoys left, and it looked like many larger boats had taken those designated 30’.

The first one we grabbed had us within striking distance of a sailboat on a private mooring. If they swung one way and we swung another, which was entirely possible given the difference in boat types, we would definitely collide. The second and seemingly last available 40’ had a different problem. It was very close to another morring buoy marked off with yellow caution tape. Our stern just barely cleared it when we swung, and in fact, the ring on the mooring got hung up on the dinghy depending on how hard the wind blew (blowing us back closer to the defunct mooring ball). Fortunately, we can raise the dinghy higher on Jon’s great davit design, and the wind was dropping too. Jon had to maneuver a bit to get the dinghy down for our trip to the Dinghy Dock, but otherwise it wasn’t a problem.

We headed over to dinner right away thinking it would be packed, but we walked right in and got one of the nice booths with the view by an open window. The salmon burgers and fries were excellent as usual.

Newcastle anchorage is always one of my favorite stops. I sat on the stern watching the light fade accompanied by a myriad of sounds: bird calls, furtive seals, party lights on nearby boats, and a saxophone (?)

Busy Nanaimo anchorage off Newcastle Island
Posted by: Ann | August 30, 2022

August 27, Stuart Island to Powell River via Lund

Sunrise over Stuart Island

Saturday, mostly cloudy.

6am start was the earliest we could see anything. Had to get through the Yaculta rapids which is right on the edge of Stuart Islands Big Bay. Spectacular pink-orange clouds of the sunrise was very brief.

  • The paddle wheel indicating boat speed started working again; it got stuck overnight in Sullivan Bay, so we lost two days of milage on that indicator, but there are others.
  • Followed the Lewis Channel through Desolation Sound past our former favorites like Squirrel Cove Refuge Cove, Gorge Harbour and Prideaux Haven.
  • Passed a Nonsuch named “Spree” (the model of our first joint sailboat) and a planing MacGregor 26 in the Malaspina Strait.
  • 10:20 Got permission from a Lund Harbormaster to stay an hour on the commercial dock to shop Nancys Bakery and the new Stockpile grocery store. Lund was VERY busy today. Had a yummy bacon Egger in Nancy’s and Jon got his cinnamon rolls, but I had to settle for a brownie since the Nanaimo bars were sold out. Despite the nice design and size of the new grocery, we again didn’t find much there besides lemon juice.

We had intended to stay in Lund, but had arrived there too early so I suggested trying Powell River.

Looking back at busy Lund Harbor

1:15. Jon seemed to decide Powell River was a great idea after he met the cute harbormaster who caught our lines at the dock. We had a nice afternoon shopping on the main road, Marine Avenue, aka hwy 101:

  • Finally got a correctly proportioned Canadian courtesy flag at Marine Traders.
  • Jon got a latte at Rocky Mountain bakery and pizza from the friendly owner even though technically they were closed.
  • Found the advertised Chopping Block butcher shop which exceeded expectations. It was chock full of fresh meats, house made sausages and roasts, jerkies and even had a fresh vegetable stand outside. Also got a nice 6 year old cheddar.
  • I asked about the length of the trail to the National Historic “Townsite” and was disappointed to hear it’s been closed by a construction project for almost a year which would force a longer walk along the busy road. Will have to save a visit to the historic Powell River company “townsite” for next time.
  • Stashed our groceries in the boat and I took a nap while Jon washed down the boat. Had an excellent dinner later at The Cookery of oversized warm pretzels and fish “bites” and chips: fast, friendly, attentive service and delicious. Too bad we were too full for the dark chocolate bread pudding.

Jon has been trying to decide whether to buy more fuel; probably don’t really need it, but it’s nice to have a cushion against anything holding us up. The appearance of the even cuter fuel dock attendant clinched the deal (could this be intentional hiring by the manager of Westview Harbor?)

Everyone was unfailingly freindly and welcoming in Westview which made it a pleasant stop

Jon on the trail between South harbor and the office in Westview. You can tell we’re on the sunshine coast!
Posted by: Ann | August 29, 2022

August 26, Lagoon Cove to Stuart Island

Traffic Jam in Chatham Channel

Friday, Drizzle; cleared to sun around noon

Today we went through the many rapids between the Broughtons and Desolation Sound. Normally, we might stop part way near Blind Channel, but, Jon said the revelation was that the Whirlpool and the Greene Point rapids aren’t usually too challenging

  • 8:30 cast off at very low tide which exposed the reported rocks in the Blowhole passage. We were also treated to the unusual sight of a bald eagle landing in the water. Normally, they don’t actually go into the water when fishing, but this one seemed to be enjoying a bath. He did have to swim to shore to waddle out; I don’t think their wet weight allows eagles to fly up out of the water.
  • 8:45 Chatham Channel.
  • 9:00 A sign near a shallow bay announced P.O. Cove which boasts a dock and a Post Office. Not sure what the story is behind that spot.
  • 9:10 We passed through the Chatham Channel Narrows indicated by range markers. We created a traffic jam as temporarily the boats that left Lagoon Cove later had to follow us through.
  • 9:25 Havannah Channel.. Note to self: took an art reference photo of the white/green light marking the Havannah Islets
  • 10:20 This leg is about 10 miles through the Johnstone Strait which is nasty more often than not. Fortunately today we had a following sea and the winds didn’t pick up until near the end of this leg. It did mean that the seas followed us into …
  • 12:15 Sunderland Channel, where it was finally mostly sunny
  • Around 1:20 we passed Althorp Point and into the Wellbore Channel
  • 1:30 going through the Whirlpool rapids reaching a fun fast speed of 11.9 kts before …
  • 1:45 entering the Chancellor Channel
  • 3:00 Green Point Rapids then into the Cordero Channel
  • 5:25 Docked at Stuart Island public dock. The store had closed at 5 so we made the suggested donation of $1/foot. For a non-profit organization, the dock is generously sized with several fingers very good repair. Several other boats were already there and one even offered to help catch our lines which was helpful since the wind was blowing us away from the dock. Didn’t do much else since it had been a long day. Jon did the cooking of pork chops and instant sour cream and chive potatoes.
Big Bay, Stuart Island Public Dock
Posted by: Ann | August 25, 2022

August 25, Sullivan Bay to Lagoon Cove

Thursday, Misty Overcast to sun at 1pm again

  • 9:30 Cast off later than usual since we couldn’t pick up our breakfast pastries until 9. The cinnamon roll and apple turnover were still warm and pretty good. We began traveling along Sutlej Channel between North Broughton and the BC mainland. It’s more interesting going now that the channels are narrow enough to see both sides despite the fog.
  • 10:30 Sharp Passage
  • 10:45. Penphrase Passage
  • 11:40 Raleigh Passage
  • 12:30 Retreat Passage
  • 1pm. 4 people standing on Seabreaze Island. I learn something new about names of locations: east of Seabrease was a nice rocky islet that I photo’ed for an art reference but it was unnamed. Jon told me these locations are commonly identified by their height since that is the only mark showing on the chart. So I can call it “Island 87 near Seabreeze Island”. That was a long way of writing that unnamed islands are identified by their heights on the charts.
  • 1:30 Knight Inlet
  • 2:15 Finished baking my Jiffy muffins for the happy hour. Note to self: next time buy Betty Crocker or Krusteaze since the Jiffy boxes only make 6 muffins. Fortunately, I had two.
  • 2:50 Clio Channel
  • 3:15. Met by Dan at Lagoon Cove dock. Kelly came by shortly after and I was finally able to deliver my print of the Historic Workshop that I’d been carrying since July. They both seemed to really enjoy it.

Lagoon Cove is always one of our favorite spots. It was sunny and warm when we arrived; Dan says the fog often stays just outside in the channels. We checked in, grabbed some Klondike bars and chatted with Kelly and Dan for awhile. Their season is closing down soon too. We went up for a walk around the house surrounded by blackberries and apple trees, but I quickly got several mosquito bites and had to return to the boat for repellant. I did spend time doing a 30 minute watercolor sketch of the house. It needs more work but I have a good foundation.

5pm happy hour was well attended. Kelly and Dan provided a big bowl of fresh caught boiled shrimp with cocktail dipping sauce, and our fellow cruisers brought enough appetizers to make dinner unnecessary. I had to ask Dan for a refresher on how best to peel the shrimp (peel off the collar and then you can pull the whole shrimp away from the leggy shell). We also learned he baits the traps with same pellets the salmon farms use, minus the additives.

The weather changed quickly however; the wind blew the fog in and snapped the umbrella behind me right off. Fortunately we didn’t even spill our drinks. We held out as long as possible as everyone was enjoying sharing their summer adventures, but finally it got a bit too cold and we had to pack it in.

Posted by: Ann | August 25, 2022

August 24, Skull Cove to Sullivan Bay

Sullivan Bay is completely floating on the water

Weds, Foggy Overcast to afternoon sun, 57 deg.

8:15 Weigh anchor. Jon saw the loon catch and swallow a whole fish. AIS showing the other boat, Salty Dog, is going to Port McNeil. We are heading to Sullivan Bay via Queen Charlotte Strait.

We have a bit of cell coverage and Jon is “getting his ducks in a row”. Scheduled the boat haul out earlier than planned due to lack of availability around the Labor day holiday, then had to make sure we’d have moorage beforehand at Cap Sante marina and afterward at our winter boatyard.

12:00 Entering Wells Passage which finally cleared to sunny around 1pm

1:45 Docked at Sullivan Bay. The staff met us at the dock and must have said “welcome!” at least 5 times. Everyone seems to be in a good mood due to the sunny weather.

This completely float based hamlet is one of our most expensive stops. We were hoping to get some provisions, but the stocks were much lower than we remembered. That might have been because their season is coming to an end. Other than milk ($10 for two quarts), we came up empty. We did order the offered fresh pastries for breakfast tomorrow. Unable to attend the Greek night dinner as it was sold out.

Paid $10 for the new StarLink internet which turned out not to work very well. Jon claimed customers have been raving about StarLink so maybe something was wrong with our setup.

Enjoyed getting our exercise in by walking the colorfully named docks like Halibut Row, or Shad Street.

The 5pm happy hour, that custom characteristic of the Broughtons, was not well attended. We sat alone for 20 minutes. Finally two other couples arrived and we had a pleasant time chatting with them before they had to leave for the dinner. It didn’t bother me to miss the dinner since it’s very expensive and Jon doesn’t care for Greek food, but it felt odd to be left out. Steak BBQ and potatoes onboard.

Whimsy is part of the charm of Sullivan Bay
Posted by: Ann | August 23, 2022

August 23, Rounding Cape Caution

Fury Cove to Skull Cove

Red-throated Loon

Tuesday, Foggy all day except for 15 minutes at 5pm

  • 6:30am Weight Anchor. Saw a whale just outside the Cove, then nothing else until we approached Fury Cove. Visibility less than 1/3 mile; barely saw one of the NW Adventures flotilla boats just before they made radio contact to ensure we understood who was passing where, but Jon saw them all on radar except for one nutty fishing boat that went racing past.
  • 9:30. Chart indicates we are passing Cape Caution. Can’t see a thing.
  • 11:40 Greeted by Red-throated loons as we anchor in Skull Cove in exact same spot as last time. One other boat in the other same anchoring spot.

I had fun using my birding app iBird to confirm my bird ID’s. I played the calls of the loon and pigeon guillimot and both birds responded by coming closer. I also confirmed that the quack/honk call that I’ve heard in several anchorages is ALSO the red-throated loon. They seem a bit comical as they go through phases of making the most baleful cry.

Wildlife totals today

  • Whale- 1
  • Red-throated loon- 6
  • Belted Kingfisher- 1
  • Stellers Jay (audible)- 1
  • Pigeon Guillemot-1
  • Harbor Seal-1
  • Great Blue Heron-2

Spent the afternoon painting with a limited palette. Chicken soft tacos for dinner.

Posted by: Ann | August 23, 2022

August 22, Shearwater to Fury Cove

Fury Cove

Monday, Overcast, sun inland after 2:30

6:50 Cast off. Getting an early start to have calm water in Fitz Hugh Sound. Jog a bit north before entering Lama Passage. From Jackson Passage yesterday, we are traveling south basically the same we took north in May. However, we are bypassing Pruth Bay and going directly to Fury Cove.

Just before reaching Fisher Channel in the small bay before Kaite Point, we have a better than average whale sighting with two humpbacks splashing and breaching with heads and fins a bit.

  • 10:15 Entering Fitz Hugh Sound from Fisher Channel. Hugging the east side all the way down
  • 12:15. Sunshine. We are seeing lots of whales on and off today. Eventual total is 6.
  • 1 pm. Passing Aldenbroke Island Lighthouse.
  • 1:30. My batch of cinnamon rolls is ready for baking.
  • 2:30 Anchor in Fury cove. Only one other boat here, but eventually there are 3 m/vs and 2 s/vs. One crew is taking their dog around the bay on a paddleboard. There is also the Northwest Adventures Flotilla of guided charter boats, but they appear to be in Frying Pan Bay which we are happy about since the smallest is 46 ‘.

We have a nice afternoon in one of our favorite anchorages: explored 2 of the 3 bright white beaches of crushed shells, Jon flew his drone to take photos of the boat, played guitar and we read a lot. Omelettes for dinner.

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