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Winter is really here, even if the official start is still a week away
Some of my beehives are barely visible at upper left.

Tuesday December 10th 2013
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I'm up early again today. Wide awake. 

Went back to bed after a while, but woke every half hour.  Stuffed up again. Don't know why.  I ate nothing unusual unless it was trail mix.  Hmmm.

Up again, I am at the desk.  We have another four inches of snow and the temperature is dropping.  I have books to do and paperwork to catch up.  Housework is falling behind, too.  Seems I vacuumed just the other day, but I know it was longer.  I keep the kitchen tidy and the bed made, but I need to go through the whole living quarters with a vacuum.

I'll also go out and blow more snow,  That is more fun than working out in my gym.  I'll blow some snow over the hives if I have the ambition.  There is no more ideal insulation and wind protection than a foot of snow.

The stag and two young does are in my yard again this morning.  One walked right up and looked in the window. The other, it turned out was lying at the foot of my steps. I let Zippy out the door to see what would happen.  She seemed to see them, but just came back in.  They ran off a bit, then stood and stared back.

I did, indeed, blow snow for an hour and half from 1030 to 1200.  I had to.  The south drive had blown in again (left), so I cleared it again.  Having repaired the auger made noticeable difference in cutting through drifts and the job was not too difficult as the snow was soft and fresh and the temperatures fairly mild at minus fifteen C..

The bank had called earlier to say they could assist with estate details and I had set up an appointment with the manager for 1 PM, so next I drove to Three Hills.  Having plugged the truck in on a short extension, when I began blowing at 1030, it started easily at 1230, so I drove it to town. 

I like to start and drive all my vehicles regularly and put a trickle charger on all of them in rotation every month or two, year round. 

A trickle charge will never hurt batteries, but keeping them topped right up extends their life a lot. 

Car batteries self discharge over time, especially in the cold and more quickly as they grow older. Modern vehicles draw current even when sitting and even a new battery will go flat in as little as a few months if the battery is not disconnected and the vehicle is not run periodically.  

Batteries should be kept clean, too.  A top terminal battery with a dirty top surface will also leak down as dirt can be conductive and will short out the battery a bit.  Simply hosing off the dirt with a garden hose can make a big difference.  Keeping the battery clean also reduces the corrosion of the cable ends and reduces problems.

Discharging a car battery more than 50% or leaving it partially or fully discharged is harmful and will seriously shorten he useful life of car batteries.  Trickle charging (1 or two amperes at most) for a week or two from time to time will prevent premature aging and may partially undo previous damage. 

Leaving an automatic charger on has the same effect as long as it is not accidentally left on 'manual' which can overcharge and damage the battery if left for more than a few hours.

Car and truck batteries need to be kept fully charged and winter driving seldom keeps batteries fully charged.  Cold starts draw a lot of juice, and accessories like lights and heater fans hog a lot of the alternator output.  Trips of of less than 10 miles are unlikely to fully replace the power used up when starting.

The new bank manger turned out to be very personable and we spent a pleasant  hour and a half filling out forms.  After a visit to the accountant and buying a few groceries, I drove home and called Fen to invite her and the girls for supper Thursday.  It turned out there was Internet trouble at The Mill and Maddy was off to get new routers.  Could I help?

Zippy and I arrived at The Mill just as Maddy and her friend Erin returned from town and we got to work installing the new equipment.  The job was  easy, except that nowhere do the instructions say to kill the modem for at least a few minutes before starting the router, then wait minutes for the ISP's DCHP to find the and accept the new router.  Fortunately I had been through the process before a few times and remembered that little trick.  Soon we were connected and the range extender was working, too.

By then the Mill's work day was over and the ladies made supper.  Fen and I went over and got Bert out of bed to come over for supper and he came over shortly.  Suffering from gout and the beginnings of a cold, he had been feeling poorly, and looked pretty rough, but he was still at the kitchen table in the Mill and looking fine when Zippy and I finally left for home at 2145.

There are no facts, only interpretations.
 Friedrich Nietzsche

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Wednesday December 11th 2013
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Yesterday, I managed to get a good start on some tasks I have been putting off.  With luck, I'll keep up the momentum today.  I'm coming up against a deadline of sorts as I plan to go west on Saturday for a few days to deliver my boat, Cassiopeia to Sidney from Granville Island where she undergoing seasonal maintenance and repairs.

One year ago, owning Cassiopeia was only a dream.  I had negotiated the purchase for six months and had finally lost out on the bidding.  Then the winners chickened out and I got the boat for less than they had bid.  I took possession ten days from now last year and was living aboard for the first time during the big 2012 winter ice storm in Vancouver.

Since then a lot has happened.  Ellen and I celebrated out 45th anniversary on the boat on May 15th and she died exactly three months later.

Since I made the purchase, I've spent over forty days on the boat and what seemed foreign a year ago is now familiar.

It's minus fourteen this morning at 0600, but a welcome warming trend is predicted for the weekend and next week with a drop again about the time I return.  I am always happier to leave the place when the weather is mild and worry when it is extremely cold even though the place is well-watched and people will be here.

I slept well last night.  Maybe part of the problem was eating trail mix.  Maybe I'm sensitive to something in it. 

> Hello Allen:
> Most trail mixes on the market contain sulfur or sulfites.
> They are used as a preservative for the dried fruits. This
> can cause allergic type reactions in many people. An
> alternative is to go to a health food store and purchase trail
> mixes that are free of sulfites. This of course will be
> sold at top dollar.

Interesting.  I had wondered about the raisins.  I just started eating a kind with raisins and noticed that I smell odd afterwards and have had problems sleeping.  I suspect you are right that they are the  problem.  Sulfites in wine don't bother me though, at least I don't think they do.  Some specific red wines bother me, but AFAIK it is the oak.  I made wine with sulfites and had no problem.   I used oak chips one time and could not sleep until I took two Benadryls.

People are always surprised that I grow tomatoes in my living room until after Christmas (right).  The tomatoes are hidden and the picture at left shows the current crop.  Usually, around Christmas, whiteflies infest the plants and finish them off. This year, so far, so good, though.  I have whiteflies on a purple fuzzy plant nearby, but the tomatoes seem okay.

At this point I am thinking I should have used a larger pot and better soil,  They use more water than the other plants and always seem to be dry.  They need water almost every day.

*   *   *   *

I see that Microsoft pushed updates to my computer last night and rebooted it without permission. 

M$ has permission to install updates as soon as released, but not reboot.  This is an invasion IMO and most annoying.  People who may have wandered off and left files opened and unsaved may well lose their work. 

It seems there is no way to prevent random and unexpected reboots except by turning off automatic updates, which many do, compromising their security and therefore, due to their lack of protection,  everyone's.

From Manitoba this morning:

Would like to see more snow here, we only have a couple of inches at most.  I believe the Eskimos have something like 7 different words for snow.

In the past we have covered hives by dumping snow on them with a loader, blowing snow on , etc.  Funny how that changes the snow.  Just an observation , the dumped stuff becomes more dense and when spring arrives usually turns into blocks of ice surrounding the hives (depending of course how quick it melts.)

Snow is very good insulation for the temperatures we have been getting.

Read you every day

I notice that same effect with the snow that comes out of the the blower on the driveway. Sometimes when I clear a large area I cannot blow the snow entirely clear of the drive and some lands ahead of where I am working.  That snow has to be blown again to clear that area when I get to it and can become quite dense after the trip through the blower if I do not get there and blow it away immediately, before it sets up and gets hard to manage -- compared to fresh snow that has fallen but not been compacted by vehicles, wind -- or the blower.

I worry a bit about that density when covering hives, and fear smothering.  However, I also  recall that in the past when yards have been drifted in with snow that is hard enough to walk over and even jump up and down on, those hives come out fine in spring -- better than those which were not covered.

...And a further comment from the writer...

Yes, I have seen that, walking in a bee yard in march, many years ago, hives behind a hedge of caraganas, completely covered, snow hard enough to walk on and where are the hives.

Falling thru the 3 of snow beside the hives, a huge cavern of melted snow surrounds each individual hive.

Green grass, and all the bees alive and very strong, truly amazing.

But when we cover them it is not the same as nature doing the job, close but not the same.

Starting in September, my eyes were getting poor for close work so I had them tested and recently bought a pair of bifocals.  Wouldn't you know it?   Now my eyes are improving again.   That happened once before about ten years ago.  My eyes are not quite back to 'normal', but they are now, suddenly, much better than they were a month ago.  Go figure.

*   *   *   *

The Toyota van was making some rubbing noises on corners and consequently I have been reluctant to drive it, but it -- unlike my red Caravan -- has five good doors and new Nokia winter tires.  I did not feel like bringing it into the basement, jacking it up and pulling the wheels, so I drove to town and went to Kal Tire.  The mechanic lifted it up, pulled all the wheels and inspected everything, checked the suspension and spent an hour or so in the process.   When I came back he said it was all good and the backing plate on one wheel had been rubbing a bit.  I asked the cost and they said, "No charge."  Bonus.

Maybe the fact that I ordered $1,000 worth of tires for the 4X4 while I was waiting had an influence, but I was very impressed just the same.  These guys are usually pretty generous, especially on a vehicle for which they sold the tires, like that van. 

I had pondered a bit at their quote of $1,034, having recently been given a quote of $880 at Costco, but had decided the $154 difference did not justify driving to Airdrie.  Besides, I have a long relationship with these guys.  My son went to school with some of them.  This unexpected gift evened the up the value equation.

I hate to spend $1,000 on a truck that cost me $3,000, but I am also very tired of getting stuck on level ground like last night at The Mill.  Even if I can always get going again with a little shoveling, being stuck on the level in 2" of snow with a big noisy turbo diesel SuperDuty 4X4 is ignominious, and could under some conditions be dangerous.  The current tires still have decent tread, but are a summer design.  The ones I ordered are winter rated.

I came home, had a light supper and tackled the bathroom.  The sink and toilet and the floor are always pristine and only need an occasional wipe, but the shower gets a build-up of calcium and soap, plus beeswax from my feet on the floor in summer as I wear sandals to the bees and go barefoot much of the time.  It only takes an hour to get the shower sparking, but I have put the job off for a few months and it was getting scary.

I had bought some "Scrubbing Bubbles" in a moment of weakness at Costco a while back, but afterwards I had doubts that something with such a cute and cuddly name could be as good as something called "Scrub Free X-Treme".  Today I put the "Bubbles" to the test and I would say that the two products are comparable.  Both make the shower look almost brand new.  I do scrub a bit, though, but lightly.

For anyone who cares, I've also discovered that all the various CLR products are not comparable.  Some clean calcium deposits off chrome taps and mirrors 100%, and some stop at 80%.  I find that confusing and disappointing.

I bought CLR to get the scale out of the toilet on my boat.  The scale was so bad the maintenance crew wanted to replace the toilets, but a pint of Muriatic acid ($5) made them like new.  $10 worth of CLR did not begin to touch the scale.  It was a total waste.

That was Wednesday December 11th, 2013.

Tomorrow: the Usual Suspects come for a turkey supper.

Many wealthy people are little more than janitors of their possessions.
 Frank Lloyd Wright

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Thursday December 12th 2013
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Today I clean house, blow snow, do books and cook supper... and -- I almost forgot -- go to a doctor's appointment at 10 AM.

I awoke at 2 AM and was up until 5 doing chores.  Then I went back to bed and got up at nine.  I let the dog out and was surprised to see we are again experiencing overcast and blowing snow.  I can't recall ever seeing a December with so much snow and cold weather this early.

I made coffee, then got around to looking at my phone and realised that I had forgotten my appointment was in twenty minutes.

I made it to the doctor's on time and returned home an hour later.  On the trip up and back, I noticed the wind is from the east-northeast this time and not the north or northwest as in the previous blows.  With any luck, the drifting will be less.

For anyone wondering, my trip to the doctor was to arrange appointments  to a local sleep specialist and an ENT (Ear, Nose &Throat) specialist to deal with the problems I have outlined here.  I figure that I should find out if there are any easy solutions (besides losing thirty pounds).

I spent the afternoon preparing for supper.  I had decided to cook a turkey that has been in the freezer a while.  The turkey is easy, but I also decided to make dressing and that took forever.

If you can count your money, you don't have a billion dollars.
 J. Paul Getty

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Friday December 13th 2013
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Today is Friday the 13th.

I woke up at 0400 and noticed the house was cool.  A glance at the thermometer showed that the furnace had run out of coal.  Walking barefoot to the kitchen on the dark, I stepped on something.  It turned out to be a turkey bone and when I turned on the light it was clear that Zippy had raided the kitchen garbage.  That is surprising since she has not done that since we first adopted her years ago.

She has probably overheard me talking of going away tomorrow and is a bit disturbed about it.  She goes to stay with Ruth and seems to like that quite well, but this is her home and she prefers being here with me.

Interestingly, I always find the prospect of leaving home mildly disturbing, too.  For days in advance I worry about things that don't normally bother me.  This continues right until I leave and I only get over it once I actually leave and am ten miles down the road.  At that point my mind shifts to where I am going and I forget my worries.

Running the auger out of coal is not a big deal.  I have been waiting for this to happen to see if the camera in the bin clearly shows that happening.  It seems that it does not, so I may have to move the camera or place a mirror where it shows the auger better. The camera shows when the level is getting low, but not when the auger is bare.  I pushed some coal onto the auger and the house warmed up again.

After breakfast I checked in for my Vancouver flight online and noted that Westjet's web site is working better now.  It was not offering an electronic boarding pass when I went to California last month and failed to print a PDF copy both times I checked in.  Today it sent my pass immediately.

I drove to Drum to meet Ruth and drop off Zippy, then picked up my new 10-year passport at the Three Hills Post Office.  Amazingly, it arrived only ten days after I went to Calgary to apply. They promised it for the 19th, so it is early.

I stopped at the tire shop and had the wheel nuts torqued.  I learned that my new truck tires are in, and I would have gone back up to have them installed, but the truck would not start when I got home, even after being plugged in for an hour.

I did some cleanup, examined the bin buddy and decided that I don't have time to rebuild it for this trip, so I shoveled the ashes and piled coal on the auger.

The bin buddy version I used last trip works fine with a full bin, but not so well when the bin is partially empty.  I have another version that sweeps the bin down to the bottom, but disassembled it some time back to revise the design and have not gotten around to rebuilding it.  The weather promises to be mild most of the time I am away, so I'll just have to watch things and call on Maddy if the coal gets low.

Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.
 Oscar Wilde

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Saturday December 14th 2013
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I fly at 0700 hours, so have to rise at 0300 and leave by 0430 at the latest.  I always rise earlier than absolutely necessary to allow time to wake up and also to have some reserve if there is fog or snow.

*   *   *   *   *

It's 0931 and I'm on the boat at the dock at Granville Island.  Wayne picked me up at YVR, bought breakfast and delivered me to the dock. 

Now I'm here.  What next?  Probably a nap.  I slept on the flight, but I am tired.  It is great to be back.

I had a nap, but, of course my phone rang.  It was Dave a broker with whom I have been discussing a boat in  the Caribbean.   We met for coffee.  After that I had a pita at the market and went back to the boat for another nap.

Then I unpacked and poked around the boat.  At five I rode with Colin over to the Kitsilano Yacht Club for a party.  We were early, since Colin is the host.  The party was lots of fun, but I was still tired, having gotten up at 0200 local and begged a ride at 2130 with another partygoer who was leaving early and was passing near Granville Island.

I was in bed and asleep by 2200 hours

Facts are the enemy of truth.

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Sunday December 15th 2013
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I slept until after 0900 hours local, waking only twice.  Once was due to little travel alarm that had turned itself on from travel motion and decided to go off at 0501.  This is hardly the first time that has happened.  I'll have to tape that thing so the slider won't move in transit.

Four months ago today, Ellen died.  It was not unexpected and the family was home.  She was comfortable at the local hospital, and Jean was with her at the time.  Since then, things have been quiet and I have been watching myself for reactions and have seen fewer than expected, but I wonder if it is starting to hit me now.  I feel generally quite happy and optimistic, but  notice mood swings, indecisiveness, and I sometimes drink too  much.  I also noticed that I wasn't vacuuming at home as often as I usually do.  Little things.

Anyhow, I am on Cassiopeia, tied up at Granville Island and planning to take her back over to Sidney this week.

I visited with Chris and his son Nathan (No, not my son-in-law, but another Chris and another Nathan) then had lunch at the market and dithered around until 1300 hours.  I was feeling a bit off and concerned about setting off in less than  great shape, but by 1330 decided to go somewhere.  Anywhere.

Marla had recommended Gibsons, but I looked at the charts and decided that I did not have time to make that distance before dark and settled on Snug Cove.  Sunset is around 1600 hours and although there is a full moon, I prefer to be in and anchored or tied up by dusk.

My judgment proved to be good.  I motored into the dock at 1600 exactly and tied up.  Gibsons would have been another hour, plus, and I would have been approaching an unknown dock in the dark.

I had decided to tie up to a dock, rather than anchoring due to the late arrival, and called ahead.  I am glad I did. The Union Steamship Marina proved to be far nicer than I would have dreamed, with a beautiful lounge and tasteful decor.  

I paid the slip and power fee and strolled up the street which was lined with cars awaiting the next ferry sailing. I had heard good things about Doc Morgan's and dropped in for a beer.  The supper special was prime rib, so I had supper and two more beers, even though the boat is well provisioned and I had planned on eating on board. 

After a  few beers and entertaining chats with the locals who apparently all live on boats at the dock (and we were entertained by a very drunk stewardess shepherded by a watchful friend) I wandered down to the docks, watched TV in the marina lounge for a while, then returned to Cassiopeia intent on a good night's sleep.

Black holes are where God divided by zero.
 Steven Wright

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Monday December 16th 2013
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I awoke at 0400 and realized that I am not at all congested this morning.  Amazing.  There seems to be no rhyme or reason to this.  I'm having a snack and going back to bed.

I awoke again at 0830.  That means I slept ten hours, total, and I can't recall the last time I was able to do that.  My intent has been to catch up on sleep and this is a good start.

The morning here is overcast at two degrees above freezing.  I'm snug in my warm boat at Snug Cove.  Checkout is noon, and if I plan to go anywhere, I should leave by then anyhow, as that leaves only four hours until sundown and permits a maximum range of 25 miles.  I would like to be in Sidney Thursday, so I have today, tomorrow and the next day to make that 50 mile trek.

Marla, one of the Cooper staff, has talked of going along as she has to go to Sidney, but if far more time-constrained than I am.  I will have to find out for sure this morning if she is coming along as that partially determines my route and timing.  This is why I single-hand.  Everyone wants to go 'sailing', but on a schedule, and usually a short one.  Motoring in a beeline is necessary sometimes, but is not usually my first choice for an itinerary.  I also have to consider the winds and the tides through the passes.

I see it is mild at home and the coal supply looks quite adequate for the next 24 hours.

I'm still thinking of going to Gibsons, and that is just two hours away, but four hours from Vancouver if  I have to return to pick up Marla, and a few extra hours in the wrong direction from Sidney.  I'm looking at the wind predictions for Strait of Georgia - south of Nanaimo, and today is expected to be calm.

Today:Wind light increasing to southeast 10 to 15 knots early this evening

Tuesday:Winds southeast 15 to 20 Tuesday morning. Wind diminishing to northwest 10 to 15 Tuesday evening.

Wednesday:Wind northwest 20 to 30 knots diminishing to northwest 10 to 20 in the afternoon.

Thursday:Wind northwest 10 to 20 knots diminishing to light.

I have to go pretty well straight south sometime in the next 72 hours to be in Sidney by Thursday noon.  The winds look favourable.  30 knots is getting to be a lot of wind, though, but on the aft quarter could provide a good ride, depending on the swell.  That prediction could change to a gale warning in the next day, though.

Decisions, decisions.

I started tidying up in preparation for departure and turned up the VHF to listen to the forecast.  Apparently  Military Zone WG is active all day today (0800 to 1700) and WG is right on my path to most destinations across the Strait.  Avoiding WG severely limits my options.

I could happily stay here another day, but should push on.  I look around and see a whole marina full of people who came and never got around to leaving.  The boats have lights on inside, are festooned with Christmas lights and decorations, and are obviously "home" to the occupants.

How Do You Catch a Cold?

After lunch, I moved on.  There was no wind and I motored the whole way to Gibsons.  The marina is full and I was offered to raft up inside on the docks, or tie up on a loading dock outside.  I took the outside dock and it is a bit rolly.  I'll be rocked to sleep.

This place does not compare to the marina I stayed in last night for class.  It's a fisherman's marina and also, it appears a place where old boats go to die.  The washrooms and showers are locked at 1730 hours.  The price is the same, though.

I had a beer in Molly's Reach at around 1530.  The bar seemed dead, but it is early.  Maybe I'll go back later.  The bar across the street looks more authentic.

Old episodes of Beachcombers are playing in a loop on a TV in the corner at in The Reach.  Beachcombers was Gibsons' claim to fame and they have not forgotten.  Neither have those of us old enough to have seen it.  Seems nothing much has happened in Gibsons since.

I was standing on a street corner just now, reading a plaque and a local came by to tell me what jerk Bruno Gerrussi was, hitting on all the local fellows' girlfriends back then.  I met Bruno in Stratford back in 1961 when he was playing Ariel in The Tempest.  Yup, he was a ham alright.

Anyhow, I am tied up all alone out here on the float outside the breakwater, just me and a pile of crab traps, rocking and rolling.  It has been dark for two hours and it is only 1815.  I figured I was on the downwind side, but now I am not so sure.  I hear the fenders rubbing.

I strolled uptown again later to get dish detergent and toothpaste.  There is no grocery store, but one small shop managed to cram in almost anything one could really need.

When I came in to tie up at the dock, I asked if there will be depth issues and was told, "No".  Makes sense, because this is a commercial float. Nevertheless, I am a doubter and checked the tables and the instruments.  There is a low tide tonight of 0.8 metres, a drop of 3.5 metres from the high tide I came in on.  My depth sounder said 4.8, and that should be below the keel, but I wonder if it is calibrated.  A lot of people use this boat.

So I took a hammer, tied it on a line and threw it in near the sender unit.  I got 21.6 feet  depth by feel and using my arm span estimate to measure the line.  As the tide is going out, the gauge said 4.4 by that time, which is 14.4 feet.  Subtracting, The difference is 7.2 feet.  This boat draws 6' 11" dry on flat water and so I can trust the depth sounder -- today at least -- and sleep soundly with more than a metre under the keel.

*   *   *   *   *

It is a lot of work to plan the crossing.  By the time I verified the depth and considered the options for tomorrow, it was 2041 hours.  Just about time for bed.  If I cross the Strait tomorrow, I have to be up and gone by 0800 to make it to Porlier by slack water.  I don't have the information I need until morning, so I have to calculate all the options in advance so I don't lose an hour in the AM, dithering, if it is a go.

A lot depends on the forecast and whether WG is active tomorrow.  If I have to skirt WG, I will have 20 knots of SE wind and swells right on the nose much of the way.  If not, it is a beam reach.  If WG is active, I might just go back to Granville Island and cross the next day with the predicted NW winds.  The only rub is that they are predicting up to 30 knots. I've been out in more than that, but if I go, people will think I am nuts.  Thursday is also predicted to be NW, but I fly that night and that is cutting things short.

*   *   *   *   *

After much study and cross-referencing, I discovered that I was worrying about Area WE, not WG and that I can cross pretty well anytime, no problem.  My Garmin Chart did not distinguish between WE and WG, and neither did the official paper chart explain the difference if any, but Googling saved the day.  It looks as if I should be able to make the crossing tomorrow easily.  ( I later found I had the info on board in the info in Sailing Directions).

Now the question is whether I should risk crossing the bar at the entrance to  Shoal Channel or go around.  That will depend on conditions in the morning and departure time.  The detour around Keats Island adds four miles to the trip.

*   *   *   *   *

So, I spent the evening on the boat studying and learned quite a bit, including a new appreciation for the many books I have on board.

Being tired after all that, I was inclined to leave the mess until morning, but observed my practice of many years and tidied up.  Years of camping and motor-homing taught me to tidy up and pack up at night so that, if necessary, it is possible to cut and run.  One never knows what might come up while sleeping, and being able to make a quick exit could be very important on awakening.

I am very aware that I am not yet an instinctive tidewater coastal sailor and have to think twice or three times about what seems to be a simple passage.

There is a big difference between offshore saltwater sailing, freshwater sailing and tidewater coastal sailing.   Even the Caribbean is virtually free of the kind of tides we see here.  Locally, a range of sixteen feet is possible within hours.  That creates rivers and rapids in shallow areas of what appear to be open water and islands where one could safely pass not long before.

I choose a block of marble and chop off whatever I don't need.
 Francois Auguste Rodin

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Tuesday December 17th 2013
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At 0558, I awoke and got up to the sound of wavelets slapping up under the stern. 

After I tied up last night, I realised that I should have turned the bow to the open water, but was not expecting heavy weather, and there was none.  I'm used to the sound of waves slapping under the stern from sleeping on my Hunter in Muskoka, where I have little choice but tie with the stern out to keep the prop in deeper water.

High tide is in 37 minutes and I leave at dawn -- if the weather checks out as expected.  I have work to do.

OK am in no hurry now.  I double-checked my work from past night and see I have two more hours to make Porlier Pass than expected as I made an error, but that would leave me inside Porlier with a half-hour of daylight and nowhere nearby except Clam Bay and with 30 knot winds predicted overnight.  Clam Bay is sheltered from the NW, but just the same, I'd rather be tied up somewhere sheltered, rather than anchored in those conditions.

It is 0745 and the light has been good enough to get underway for fifteen minutes, but I have to develop a new plan.  Silva Bay is doable and on this side of the Gabriola Pass, but is anything open?  Also, overnighting at Silva Bay would place me about five or six hours from Sidney, but the trip would be straight downwind on Wednesday and without a whisker pole, that would be a pain. 

Of course, I can just beetle back to Bowen Island or Granville Island and plan on doing the 50-mile crossing to Sidney on Wednesday. 

Active Pass is 5 hours from GI and the slack there tomorrow is at 1223.  I'll be riding an ebb, with the wind down to the pass, so swells should be OK and progress excellent. 

Today Tonight and Wednesday: Wind southeast 10 to 15 knots increasing to southeast 15 to 20 this afternoon then becoming northwest 15 to 20 this evening. Wind increasing to northwest 25 to 30 late overnight then diminishing to northwest 20 Wednesday afternoon.

At max flood in the pass, two hours later , the maximum current is only 1.4 knots, so that entire 4-hour window is wide open.  The trip to Active Pass should be a reach.  The winds could be up to 30 knots -- a near gale -- at times but I think that the ride should be fun.

So, that is my plan.

Now, Snug Cove or Granville?  Either is the same distance from Active Pass and GI is free.  I like Snug Cove, though.  I'll cast off and decide along the way.  I have to see if my GI slip is still empty.

*   *   *   *   *

I left at 1030 and decided to go out over the bar, even though it is not recommended for non-locals.  I had considered the wind direction, the depths, the currents and the tide and figured it should be OK.   If not, I'd turn back. 

I proceeded slowly and cautiously and watched the depth gauge carefully all the way out, and although the chart showed two metres at some points, I never saw less than 5 metres.  That was because a large tide was in.  Currents were almost nil, too.

Soon I was out in the Strait doing 7.5 knots under full sail, and soon had to reef.  I decided on Vancouver since I have the key to return and Vancouver is is "home" to my fleet. 

That decision was a mistake, though, for several reasons.  The current proved to be against me and it took a long time and much tacking to get in.  I always forget how far it is into English Bay and I wound up motoring to make it by 1600.  I could have been in Snug Cove an hour earlier, easily. 

Also, I had forgotten that exiting Vancouver means a west and slightly north leg in the morning, and the NW wind I am looking forward to riding down to Active Pass will fight me for the first hour.  From Snug Cove, the entire trip tomorrow would be a downhill sleigh ride.

The day was cool and overcast with intermittent rain.  Although I was warmly dressed and well sheltered by the enclosure when I wanted to be, I was tired, a bit sore, and a little cold when I got in.  Nonetheless, I did a beautiful job of backing up and narrow channel and making the dogleg at the end.

At any rate, now that I am in Vancouver, I'll have supper with my brother and his wife.  I could have gone to the Bluewater AGM tonight, but I'd just get elected to something.

The average person thinks he isn't.
 Father Larry Lorenzoni

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Wednesday December 18th 2013
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My alarm woke at 0630 after a reasonably good night's sleep.  I have some congestion again, and wonder what is causing it.  I had a hamburger, salad and two beers at "Cats" last night.  Cheese maybe?  I'm still figuring this out.

Today is to be the crossing, but rocking of the boat and howling in the rigging here in the deepest, most sheltered corner of the marina tells me that is not to be.

A few minutes of listening on the VHF and a look at the marine weather website confirms that.  Gale warning.  I'm spending the day here, at least until the front passes.

There is no hidey hole within four or five hours of here in the direction I must go, so I need an entire day, or at least six hours to get to somewhere to hide out and eight for the entire trip.

I realise that Granville Island is a top destination, but it hurts to be stuck here in paradise on a sunny, windy day.  I listened to the locals and stayed when I could have fought my way out upwind for an hour to the buoy, and then had a good downwind ride to Active Pass.

I must be getting old.  Not too long ago, I would not bother to venture out until the small craft warnings were posted. All I had then was a surf board that would sink under my weight if I stopped and a sail.  Today I have 10 tons of ocean-rated boat under me.  What a chicken I've become!

Not only that, I was talking to an old guy in the boatyard and he said he takes his 28-foot boat across when the warnings are up.

I really should not listen to others so much.  Maybe a little, though. When I was out in the weather yesterday, I could feel the cold and my shoulder was aching.  I was glad to get in. 

The question always is this: "What is the worst that can happen?"  On a boat in a gale, nothing much usually unless the waves are immense or breaking or the shore comes too close.  Offshore, one just turns and runs before the gale if it proves too much, but near the coast that may not be an option.

Looking back over the day, sitting here at 1455, snug and warm and bored, with an hour or two at most remaining until dark, I can say I should have gone.  In the darkness before dawn, that was not nearly as obvious, but I need to trust my own instincts more.  I have led my life travelling off the beaten path, swimming against the tide and choosing forks off the main road.  That vision worked for me all my life.  Why would it fail me now?

I was told that one of our (Cooper's) boats is headed this way from Sidney today.  That should be interesting.  It is uphill all the way with wind and tide against.

I am increasingly realizing that sailors are sailors and powerboaters are powerboaters.  There is a crossover, and I try to imagine driving a house around on the water, and sometimes the idea appeals, but when I go below to cook lunch and my stove is at a 20 degree angle to the counter and I have to brace myself to stand -- and that seems normal and just fine, I think powerboats are like golf.  I am just not old enough yet to see the appeal.

Sitting here, I realise that I am bored.  How can that be?

How wrong it is for a woman to expect the man to build the world she wants,
 rather than to create it herself.
 Anais Nin

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Thursday December 19th 2013
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Tonight I fly out of Sidney. I've already checked in for my flight and should be at the airport by 2020, but first I have to get there -- by boat.

The forecast has changed (of course).

TodayWind east 5 to 15 knots becoming light near noon then increasing to east 10 to 15 this evening. Wind increasing to east 15 to 20 Friday morning.

That should be OK, but I can see myself motoring more than sailing -- again -- but motoring is predictable and I have an ebb tide in my favour much of the way.  Slack is at 1300 hours in the pass, but could go through up to an hour early by the looks of things and have two knots in my favour.   Best case it will take me five hours to get to the Pass, though, and I am unlikely to leave before 0800.  Although we are near full moon and skies are clear, that light source has nearly set by the time I leave.  I have to rely on the sun.

I could go in the dark, but the waters around here can have logs floating just at the surface, so being able to see is important.

Listening to the morning conditions, I hear there is very little wind. 

*   *   *   *   *

That was the truth.  I pulled out at 0750 and motored all the way on autopilot, making the Pass right on schedule and arriving in Sidney at 1500, after refueling at Van Isle on the way.  What little wind I encountered was right on the nose.  I could have left at least a half-hour earlier, but was not ready to go.  It takes me an hour and a half to get going in the mornings, it seems.

These waters are familiar now and I am more confident in my judgment.  What a difference a year makes.  I bought Cassiopeia one year ago tomorrow,

On arrival, I met James the new Cooper dockman and went on to talk to Dawn.  She said that Sainte Reine, a smaller Bavaria like mine had made the trip in the opposite direction against the wind, gale and all, and that I would have had a good trip if I had gone.  Oh, well.  I'm still a bit timid and too easily influenced by non-sailors' opinion of the weather.

I tidied the boat and packed, called a cab and left at 1930 for YYJ.  It takes me several hours to pack up.  I had four and a half.  It is amazing how time expands when I am active.  I could have sat at home all day and done nothing --and not realised it -- rather than packing in all this adventure into a few hours.

Once at the airport, I was informed my plane would be leaving an hour late.  They must have known that before the plane left Calgary on its way to YYJ and as much as I appreciated the emails received once I was at the airport, I would have appreciated them much more an hour earlier.

We finally lifted off at 2230, One and a half hours late and I had my bags and was in my van at 0130.  The roads were good and I sped home on the cold, dark empty country roads.

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

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