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Wednesday March 20th 2013
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I slept right through the night and awoke at 6:30 local.

Today promises to be interesting.  I take possession of Cassiopeia for the first time since her repairs and refitting, have some schmoozing to do, some inventory and inspections to do, and I'll meet my sailing partner for tomorrow at one PM to plan the next two days and the delivery route.

The weather at home still looks cool and that is good. A fair amount of water runs down the field and past our house if we get a sudden melt.  I'm hoping we won't have a fast runoff while Ellen and I are away.

I went to the boat and met Dennis, my crew for the trip.  We settled on an 8:30 departure for tomorrow morning.  I then bought groceries and took them back to the boat, only to find that the maintenance crew was doing some last minute work in the bilge.  I left the grub for them to put away and drove to Ron's then returned the car to YVR.  Ron picked me up and we returned to Queensland.

I've had a wonderful time, but this wasn't it.
Groucho Marx

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Thursday March 21st 2013
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Today is the day we take Cassiopeia over to Sidney.  Weather looks good.  In Alberta, winter continues into spring with more snow and cold promised.

Dennis was at the dock when I arrived and we set about getting ready to cast off.  We were about ready to go when the chart plotter went offline and then the rest of the instruments quit.  We called maintenance and they came to help.  There was no multimeter on board so they brought one.  A multimeter was in the list of missing items I had provided for remediation and yet there was none.  Hmmm.   A screw I had noticed sticking up in the forward cabin sole and mentioned was still sticking up.  Hmmm.

Sam hunted high and low through the boat looking for the problem, but my guess right from the start had been a bad switch, seeing as the indicator light beside the switch was glowing only dimly  I let Sam grope around for a while, and waited until Dennis had a go and let me near and then took a measurement  myself and jumpered the switch.  Sure enough, we had power.  We made the voyage with a jumper on the navigation switch as nobody had any spares for these Bavarian switch panels.

By 10:30 we were ready and cast off.  I quickly realised that I need to be more clear about the exit plan as we were in a very tight spot and was uncertain of how this boat would respond.

In a word, she didn't.   She showed zero response to the wheel when I used normal power.  Saildrives are much farther from the rudder and require much more throttle for any effect, and, as we learned on the trip, the propeller is too small for the boat: We only made 5.5 knots under power, not the advertised 8 knots.  Anyhow, we managed to fend ourselves off a few nearby boats and make an inelegant exit.

We motored out of the Bay, then set sail for Active Pass.  The winds were variable and we sailed and motored to the Pass on one tack, arriving about 6 PM.  We arrived on an ebb and got flushed through with a 2-knot current and tied up at Montague for the night.  We barbequed steak on the new BBQ and had a pleasant evening.

As we entered Active Pass, I observed a strange GPS error.  The plotter placed us 1/4 mile from where we actually were for several minutes.  We rebooted the plotter, and it settled down.  That was an eye-opener!  If I had not had visual understanding of our location, and a second GPS, believing the plotter would have sent us onto the rocks.  I've had plotter failures and plotter chart errors before, but so early in our trip?  This was a shock.

A second puzzler occurred as we entered Montague south of Julia Island.  The plotter showed tiny scattered islands in the middle of a clear and deep channel.  I slowed right down, and we consulted the sounder and the paper charts.  Another sailboat was going through ahead of us at a normal speed and Dennis had been in and out there many times and knew there were no rocks, but this boat just had major repairs resulting from a strike previous to my purchase and I am not about to take any chances.

 We motored past the imaginary little islands, very slowly.

It's kind of fun to do the impossible.
Walt Disney

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Friday March 22nd 2013
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We awoke at 7, had breakfast, untied and cast off.  We practiced maneuvers around some buoys for a while to get a better feel for the boat.  Cassiopeia has a saildrive and does not respond as expected.  We found that out yesterday, leaving the slip.

We then set sail across the channel and down Haro Strait to Sidney.  We found the marina and our slip and I eased her in perfectly. right at noon  The morning practice session paid off.

I talked to Ellen, and it seems they had a huge storm and she is snowed in back at home.

I phoned the car rental place as I had reserved for noon and they said, "No problem".  A five-minute walk took me to the bus stop and within five more minutes, I was on the express bus to Victoria.  Twenty-five minutes later I walked one block to the car rental.  As it turned out, they had rented the car they held for me, so they upgraded me to a Dodge Grand Caravan for no added cost!  Bonus!!!

I drove around Victoria, enjoying the beautiful, warm sunny day and stopped at Fishermens' Wharf for fish and chips, then stopped at West Marine to look for switches, bought a multimeter at Canadian Tire and returned to the boat.

Facts are the enemy of truth.
Cervantes

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Saturday March 23rd 2013
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I'm tied up in Sidney this morning.  In the afternoon, Jack and his daughter's family will come on board for a sail.

*   *   *   *   *

They all showed up around one and I gave them an orientation, and got ready to leave the dock.  Everyone was given a position and the adults a task.  I made sure that the kids wore PFDs and the adults were given a choice.  I explained that, as I left the dock, someone should stand on the finger and hold the boat off, give a good push, then get on. Vince volunteered.  I can't see the dock very well from the operating position.

We backed out nicely, then there was a splash.  Vince had overestimated his ability to make it up onto the deck from the dock and had fallen in.  The water is 46 degrees C -- very cold, but he climbed back out and we told him top go to the end of the dock to be picked up.

He did and I made a pass to pick him up, but on the side of the boat which is blind and has no fenders.  I was counting on my passengers to tell me how far from the dock I was since, being young and strong, he should be able to make a two foot gap, allowing me to avoid turning around or contacting the dock.  Well, that plan was n lot so good either as the two adults on deck gave conflicting distances when they actually reported and the two kids made a constant racket that made it hard to hear.  I finally bit the bullet and turned 180 in that confined space and picked him up and we motored to the marina exit.

One we were clear of land, the only stickler was that the chart plotter quit again -- the replacement breaker failed -- and I was not ready to sail unfamiliar waters without a plotter.  Although I had consulted the paper charts, I had not recorded the safe limits in a scribbler.  With all the distractions in the cockpit, I was not confident that I could navigate safely, even with a handheld backup GPS that contains a full set of charts.   Without distraction, certainly, but with a lot of commotion around me, not so much.  I made sure we were on a safe course and went below and jumpered the nav switch again and everything lit up, so we were good to go.

From there it was all bliss and we had a perfect breeze.  After an initial period with just the main, we let out all the sail and everyone got to steer.  We heeled only 5 degrees and made up to 5 knots, which was plenty to impress everyone.

We returned and made another perfect docking, tied up and parted company until tomorrow night, when we meet for supper.

The take-home message is that what we yachtsmen take for granted, others don't understand.  A 20,000 lb vessel is not like a rowboat or little runabout,  We draw seven full feet of water and have a lot of momentum as well.  While a little boat is obviously tippy and dangerous, a yacht looks substantial and deceptively safe, but has its own dangers, many of them, and not always obvious ones.

Although I did make sure the kids had life jackets on from the time they came to the boat, I did not insist that the adults wear them.  In fact I assumed (safely in the case since I know the people kayak) that everyone can swim, and assuming can get one into a heap of trouble.

I will keep that in mind in future and realise that people who come aboard must be considered passengers until proven to be capable crew.  This is not the first time I have made this mistake -- assuming people who grew up around water and boats would know enough to be safe -- or useful -- on a yacht.

I did odd jobs on the boat, then went out and bought a roast chicken for supper.

I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them.
Ian L. Fleming

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Sunday March 24th 2013
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At home, the weather (above) continues to be unusually cold.  We worry about being away when the temperatures fall below minus ten at night.  If it stays above minus ten, the risk of freezing up the house is minimal, but below that, we have to have neighbours keep an especially careful watch on the place.  They always do, but in this weather, extra care is needed.

Today is a big one.  Ellen arrives at YYJ at 1 PM.  YYJ is five miles from here, so that is easy.  Ron and Mairin come over on the Ferry at three.  Joan will pick them up and they are coming here to see the boat.  Then we all go for supper at Moxies at 5:30.  Jean and family will be on a ferry this afternoon, as well, aiming at being here in time for supper.  Sometime during all this, the Dicks and the Orams check in at the Surf Motel for the week.  The weather (below) looks promising. 

Next weekend is the Easter Bunny Flotilla and I have been hoping for a full boat.  That means six paying crew, I am told.  I go for free and my boat gets paid the full rate.  Otherwise, I don't know what happens.

So far the weather has been cool and rainy, and so no one has yet booked for the event from Sidney, but maybe we will get enough signing up this week.  Vancouver has good bookings I hear, but maybe that is just brave talk?

 

I notice that Cassiopeia's dance card (above) had only twelve days booked a week ago and now has twenty-two booked.  My goal is 60 days booked out of a possible 120 or so.  There are seldom many bookings outside of the May to September time frame, but we did have a charter right after this last Christmas, days after I bought the boat.  This boat is comfortable in almost any weather as I just proved, sailing through sun, rain and snow with temperatures down to freezing at night -- all in complete comfort.  I need to spend time aboard, testing and repairing 1.000 little things.  I'm finding that relying on the charter company to do this is unreliable and, I suspect, costly.

The day began cool and overcast, but by noon, i did not need any heat and by the time Ellen landed, forty-five minutes late -- the sun was out and it was actually hot in the enclosure.  I dolled up the saloon and turned on all the lights, the way brokers do when showing a boat.  I set the table with wine glasses and two bottles of wine.  I even ran out and bought some flowers.

Ellen called and I ran over to YYJ and picked her up.  We went back to the boat and sat around for a while and  had lunch and a glass of wine, then Ron, Joan and Mairin cam by a visited.  Jean and family texted that they were going straight to the Surf as they wanted to change before supper.

At five-thirty, we all gathered at Moxies and had a family supper.  At eight-thirty, we all went out separate ways and the Vancouver Dicks had a ferry to catch.

Ellen and I spent the night in our top floor sea view room at the Surf Motel.

Maybe this world is another planet's Hell.
Aldous Huxley

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Monday March 25th 2013
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A panorama shot from the balcony of our room at the Surf.

We're all here and settled in at the Surf.  After months of planning and preparation for moving the boat and arranging to be here together, here we are.  Now I have to get better acquainted with the Sidney office of Cooper Boating, some boat fixing, and some family sailing to do, and to decide if I will be going on the Easter Bunny Flotilla or not.

Chris has gone for a run and the rest of us visited, now the day lies ahead.  Personally, I plan to go to some chandlers and then out to the boat, but I imagine we'll be doing some family walks and maybe some geocaching.

Jack called and wanted to go sailing, seeing as this is his last day before leaving for home.  I was not hard to persuade, so I picked him up and we drove to Sidney.  It is a half-hour drive and we stopped at West Marine and Anchor Marine along the way, so we got to the boat around noon. It is quite a drive to the marina and back.  The distance is 31 km and it takes a half-hour. (right)

I learned a lot from yesterday's excursion and I've decided that I won't ask anyone who does not have yacht-specific training to handle ropes, shove off, etc..  The whole experience is just too strange for many and the results are unpredictable. 

In the calm marina, I can pull away from the dock on departure, and dock the boat on returning without any assistance whatsoever, but always appreciate experienced yachspeople standing by and taking the ropes when asked.  It is the custom for nearby boaters to be alert and stand by to catch ropes or to fend off when any yacht approaches their dock, especially if it appears assistance may be required.

Now that I am used to the saildrive, I find that I don't have propwalk to worry about and better understand Cassioeia's pivot point and throttle response.   Propwalk is the tendency for a boat to pull to one side (port usually) when backing up, and especially when starting to back.  Cassiopeia -- all 20,000lbs -- backed out gracefully with no assistance from the hands on board and we exited the marina under power.

Once clear the markers, we hoisted sail and tacked over to Sidney Spit.  From there we took several tacks around the strait, approaching Tsehum Harbour at one point and the Spit at another. 

I considered mooring at one of the balls at the Spit and dropping the dinghy, but indications were that the water could be very shallow and I figured a miscalculation could run us aground and I had not verified the tides, seeing as we were not planning to go into anything less than 20 metres depth when we left.  Besides, I don't entirely trust the plotter.  Moreover, the mooring field at the Spit has a sand bottom.  Sand is subject to shifting due to the strong tidal currents and storms locally, so charts are unlikely to accurately show the current depths.  I am not yet prepared to risk it in a boat that is still not entirely familiar by trying anything at all tricky.

We sailed a few hours in light breezes and returned to our slip, C22.  No one can remember the slip number, so, I say, "Catch 22".  That works. 

Cassiopeia eased perfectly in, right in beside her finger under guidance from the helm with no other assistance and I casually stepped off and tied up.  Just as a parachutist packs his own chute, a wise yachtsman ties his own boat, or at least inspects the job.  It is amazing how many boaters, even experienced boat owners don't know how to properly tie a boat.

While these excursions may seem to be for pleasure, I am actually working, and working fairly hard while I am operating the boat.  This boat is a business and has to be maintained in top condition for charter.  By taking it out and trying the systems, I find out the items in need of work and other deficiencies.

So far, I have found problems with the DC panel, the chart plotter, one cupboard latch that malfunctions, a leak in in one head, and several other subtle problems.  I have also discovered that the prop is undersized for the boat.   Some of these issues are serious enough to ruin someone's holiday and/or to cost me a charter fee.  Everything was supposed to be shipshape in time for the delivery, but there were a number of serious deficiencies that delayed our departure and are still not fixed.  I'm working on them.

I am finding that I pretty well have to repair things myself as the charter maintenance people are good at routine items, but simply do not have the time to track down intermittent problems or problems that only show up in use.  Charter clients may report problems or not, and when they do, the reports may or may not be clear enough to be acted upon.

Many people, if they have a problem with this boat on a charter, will simply say little, but charter another boat next time.  My best prospects for future business and for positive references to friends are the people who have sailed Cassiopeia before and had a good experience.  My policy is that everything should be first class and everything should work and work well.  Achieving that end means spending time on the boat, both at the dock and one the water.  The fact that I enjoy both does not make it any less work.

I dropped Jack off at his place and drove to the Surf.  The family were just hanging out and relaxing.  I had a quick nap before supper and then we went down to the Orams' room.   Jean had some chili she had brought and Ellen made a salad.   We ate, then El and I returned upstairs and I went to bed early, but not before I watched a bit of an old Mash episode on TV.

I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our
own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.
Umberto Eco

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Tuesday March 26th 2013
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The nighttime temperature at home is minus nineteen, but things should moderate in the coming days.  Here, in Victoria, the nights are above freezing, and the days are comfortable in shirtsleeves.

We -- Jean, Chris, Mckenzie, Nathan, Ellen and I -- drove to Sidney in the morning and everyone got aboard Cassiopeia.  I think they are all intimidated.  We sat in the cockpit a while and everyone went below to look around, then we went to Salty's for fish and chips.  That was followed by a walk to the beach to look for sea glass.  I took my leave and went back to the boat and did a few things and then went to West Marine.

Mid-afternoon, I got an email from Marla and it seems I am going on the Easter Bunny Flotilla.  They have assigned me one companion, one of their instructors.  What the deal is, I do not know.  I did not get the boat filled with paying customers, so I have no idea what this is going to cost me.  I'll find out in due time, just as I will with some of the work I've ordered.  In that vein, today Nancii sent me a preview of the forthcoming moorage bill for 2013-2014 and it is $8,500.

This boat is rated for ten people and sleeps eight (four couples), but I am  bit of a recluse and two aboard is just fine for me.  Frank and I sailed thousands of miles with just the two of us.   That worked well.  Add more and things can quickly get complex.

As for cost, I'm looking at the bottom line.  I don't care what they charge me if they can find the income to cover it and give me a profit, and they are doing not too badly so far.  I'm impressed by their thoroughness and their management, and I'll know better in a year. Right now, I am happy and I'm "living the dream".

"Living the Dream" refers to the words of Lucky, my friend, Rick's, parrot.  Lucky says, "Come aboard and live the dream".  She also can make a sound exactly like Rick's cell phone ringing.  Rick and Lucky live on a 50-foot boat in the Caribbean.

As for the "dream", well it is just that, a dream.  Boating is too wet, too damp, too cold or too hot, and too dangerous in many totally unexpected ways.  As they say, boating consist of long periods of boredom punctuated by seconds of pure panic, and they are not too far off.

We all reappeared at the Surf for supper at 6.  Everyone else seems weary, and I am distracted by my boat.

Be nice to people on your way up because you meet them on your way down.
Jimmy Durante

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Wednesday March 27th 2013
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I went to bed early, slept well, and awoke around two.  I got up and organized files on my computer then went back to bed and slept until eight.  If I can't sleep, I just get up for a while.  It is a great chance to get an hour or two of boring tasks done, instead of just lying there waiting to fall asleep.  When I can't stay awake any longer, I go back to bed and am asleep in seconds.

It is eight AM and the Orams are going for a walk.  They have recovered from their colds and the long drive out here, so I think some of us will go for a sail today.  I have things to do to get the boat ready for charter and to get ready for the Easter Bunny Flotilla Friday.  Today, West Marine has a 20% off sale.

A friendship founded on business is better than a business founded on friendship.
John D. Rockefeller

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Thursday March 28th 2013
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Today, I pack to move to the boat.  I'll be living aboard until the 4th of April.  Ellen stays here at the Surf until Saturday morning and flies home, but I'm off to prepare for the Easter Bunny Flotilla today and tonight. then leaving tomorrow for Thetis island.

My crew comes onto The Island this afternoon by ferry and we have to provision, then there is a planning party tonight.  I still have to figure out how to repair the DC panel and have some shopping to do.

The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.
Samuel Johnson

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Friday March 29th 2013
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We pulled out at 8:30 and motored up to Shwartz Bay and headed north.  We got enough wind for a bit of sailing, and tied up at Thetis Island.

Basically, I no longer work for anything but the sensation I have while working.
Albert Giacometti

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Saturday March 30th 2013
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From Thetis, we motored up to Dodd Narrows, did a few tacks, and motored up through the current, which at times amounts to three knots on the nose.  We knew a tug was waiting with a log boom at the upstream end and would occupy the Narrows shortly so we went about 35 minutes before slack.

The day was warm enough for shorts and Tee shirts.

Above the Narrows, we sailed the rest of the way to Newcastle and tied up at a mooring buoy, then decided to go to the dock with the other boats.   We tied up and socialized a bit, then went to the Dinghy Dock Pub for supper.  The Cooper Boating group held a wiener roast in the evening, but we stayed in and watched Parental Guidance a dumb Billy Crystal/Bette Midler movie which was a total waste of time.  I see now that Rotten Tomatoes gave it one star.  If only I knew then...

There's a limit to how many times you can read how great you are and what an
inspiration you are, but I'm not there yet.
Randy Pausch

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Sunday March 31st 2013
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We start with an Easter Egg Hunt here at Newcastle this morning, then head for Silva Bay. The boat has been handling well and I am working the bugs out.  There are a number of little issues and some puzzles.  Taking a voyage of this sort tests all the systems and prepares me for re-writing the boat manual as well as showing what work needs doing.

We left around ten and sailed out of the Nanaimo harbour into the Strait.  At first we were alone, but soon other boats from the flotilla caught up and we tacked around for a while before motoring into Silva Bay to tie up.

It is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.
Carl Sagan

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Montague Harbour, evening of May 21, 2013.

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