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Melissa & Dave - Adventures at Sea

Index of Interesting Blog Posts

Most Amazing

 A Lone Humpback Whale    

 Panama Canal Crossing

 Isla Talon


 French pastries delivered?!

 El Salvadorian chicken boat

 America's Cup Races

 French Canal Boat


Emotional or Funny

 Reaching the Canal

 We can't catch a thing

 Flying the Dingy

 Snakes on a boat Part 1

 Snakes on a boat Part 2

 Melissa can't fly a Spinnaker

 Embarrassing laundromat trip


 Helping the Mexican bureaucracy

 Squid attack!


Best Land Side Trips

 Caiman Capture!

 Swimming in the Amazon River

 Arches National Park

 Machu Picchu

 Best Zip Line

 Paying our first bribe

 Seeing our first wild monkeys

 Evening in Tlaquepaque

 Melissa attacked by monkeys

 Most beautiful cities in the world

 Oaxaca market day

 Monte Alban ruins

 El Salvadorian wedding

 Copan ruins

Scary Stuff

 A bump in the night

 Remind me why Greece is fun?

 Tried to kill the boat owner

 Getting caught in a fishing line

 Apsaras tries to sink herself

 Dark and stormy night at sea

 Fire aboard the boat!

 A scary marina entrance

 Michoacan Mexico Unrest

 Engine trouble at sea at night

 Automatic weapons fire?

 Frogman Mike


The MacGyver Stories

 Debugging the starter problems

 Outwitting the Panama Canal

 Bringing back the icemaker

 Fixing Saltydog's autopilot

 Saltydog gets a new navigation system

 Towing a boat across the bay

 SSB Seminar

 Stabbed by a broken beer bottle in Mexico

 Autopilot failure in Alaska

 Removing the washer/dryer

 Where is that leak anyway?

 The day Dave wanted to sell the boat

Rescue Stories

 Paddleboard Rescue

 Rescue on the Amazon River

 Fuel transfer at sea

 Aground & Rescue of Joint Decision

 Day 1 and Day 2 of fixing the generator




Current Journey - RSS Feed at http://svapsaras.com/entries.atom

Canada 2019 Trip Wrap Up

When all was said and done this trip, we did 289 miles up to the Canadian Gulf Islands and back.

Early on we encountered a number of “shake down” issues – typical for a boat that hasn’t been cruising in a few years.  This is the longest trip Apsaras has made since we brought her down from Canada in May of 2017.  So not surprisingly there were a number of maintenance issues, plus planned projects.  Between Jim and Dave they managed to complete a lot of projects - so Apsaras came home in better shape than when she left:

  • Install new kitchen faucet
  • Replace deck light
  • Rewire cockpit outlets
  • Fix light over kitchen counter
  • Whip kayak ropes & jib sheets
  • Fix Generator
  • Fix mount for fridge strut
  • Buy and install new starter battery
  • Cycle & pickle the water maker

There are still boat projects remaining to be done – as there always are.  Somewhere in the neighborhood of about 20 hours worth.

  • Fix the exhaust pipe
  • Trim some floorboards being replaced
  • Add a switch to turn off the solar
  • Fix the 2.5 HP dingy motor (parts on order)
  • Fix the diesel heater in the back
  • Install Melissa’s wash down pump!
  • Change the Racor filter on the main engine
  • Replace the starter
  • Build a new ammeter and install it
  • Replace the forward head duck bills
  • Replace the rear head toilet seal
  • Replace the light in the forward cabin (parts on order)
  • Replace the anchor roller (parts on order)
  • Replace the BBQ heat shield (parts on order)

We asked everyone what their favorite thing was along the way and everyone had a hard time deciding.  The food was fabulous.  (Yes, Thierry Rautureau we do have fresh herbs aboard.)  The murder game was a blast (note to self – put that on the repeat list.)  The spa at Poets Cove is hard to beat – especially near the end of the trip.  Catching a crab with drilled out lamb bones.  Anchoring in the quiet bays of Clam, Otter, Montegue, Chemanus, and Medicine Beach.  Getting Jim more training as helmsman.  The farmers market at Ganges.  Getting a new kitchen faucet.  Great movies almost every night.  Winning out over the spiders.  Though now that Apsaras is back at Carillon Point, the spiders are sure to take over the boat again!

Day 15 - Crew Promotions

When we awoke we had all spent a less than ideal night due to the sloshing about from ferry wakes.  So Dave decides to head out for the locks early.  Underway, Dave pickled the water maker again so it can sit for another year or two without being used and not get damaged.

We make the roughly 1 hour crossing – only to find that the small locks were being repaired.  They had a crane out working on them.  So we had to wait for the big locks to cycle which takes a while because they typically want to load a lot of boats.  Alas when the lock opened, we had to wait for another cycle because there was a big barge coming through and commercial traffic gets priority.  Bummer because Jim and Margaret’s 4 year old grand daughter had come down to watch us go through and she didn’t have the patience for the more than hour long wait.

By the time we got through everyone was starved as we had waited to cook breakfast figuring it would be easier once we were in the lake where its smoother.  Jim and Melissa again worked together to do the last round of Eggs Benedict – this time making it with the leftover prime rib from the restaurant at Roche Harbor and a side of asparagus.  And of course, mimosas along side!

Once we reached our home dock at Carillon Point, it was time to unload.  Took 5 dock carts worth to unload the gear and trash.  And then once home, 4 loads of laundry to get through all the sheets, towels, and damp clothing.  By which time we were pretty well beat!

Dave gave promotions to Jim and Margaret.  Jim became a Lieutenant on the USS Apsaras.  Margaret had previously elected herself Chief WSS (Wine Swiller and Spiller), but had been demoted to Junior WSS for forgetting Jim had been promoted to Mate and using the wrong title (Swab) when referring to a shipboard officer.  Today she regained her title of Chief WSS.

However, the back side of their hats serve as reminders that screw ups can cause demotions.  Jim is just happy that from Lieutenant, he isn’t likely to be busted back to Swab again, just Ensign.  This leaves Melissa wondering if she is now the one wearing the Swab/Mate hat?

Melissa did one more leftovers dinner.  Margaret had suggested that the leftover chicken drippings and potatoes from last night’s dinner could make a great cream of potato soup.  Which is exactly what Melissa made.  Oh man was it yummy.  Along side pan fried chicken thighs made for a nice hearty dinner.

Day 14 – Crew says “We Got This”

Last night discussion ensued about how we were going to make our way out of the slip this morning.  Melissa told Dave that, “we got this” and “he shouldn’t say a word” while Melissa, Jim, and Margaret readied the boat for departure and Jim backed us out of the slip.  Dave seemed dubious, but Melissa was insistent!  So at 9am sharp, when the church bells at Roche Harbor began to ring, Dave says, “ok, I’m not supposed to participate so you guys better get moving!”  We disconnect the electrical cord (and remembered to turn off the fridge so the batteries wouldn’t get drained before starting the motor), but nearly tried to steal Roche Harbor’s electrical splitter as we assumed it was ours.  That’s an somewhat understandable oops because Dave was the one that rigged it yesterday.  Then we debate how we are going to remove the ropes.  Dave says, “well you should probably start the engine first before removing the dock lines”.  Oh right.  Yeah.  I’m sure that would have dawned on us.  We then discuss how Jim is going to maneuver out of the slip.  Melissa points out that since the dock slip is 100 feet long – we could just walk the boat back to the end of the dock at which point we will be clear of the boat next to us and reduce the risk of bumping it.  Melissa instructs Margaret to keep control of the bow if it starts to swing towards the other boat, but not to pull on the line.  She will pull from the stern because if you pull the bow line, the boat just rotates around.  Dave rolls his eyes as if to say, “that’s cheating!”.  But hey – it totally worked!  Jim maneuvered out of the slip perfectly after Melissa and Margaret hopped back aboard.

Then it was time to cook breakfast.  As we are near the end of the voyage, it’s a “kitchen sink” breakfast that used up nearly all the leftovers.  Melissa started by frying up the leftover bacon.  In the nice hot bacon grease, she then cooked up onions.  Then in went the remaining pork tenderloin, leftover veggies from last nights dinner at the

restaurant, the leftover rice, green onion, and the chopped bacon.  Once warmed, Melissa tosses in some eggs and coconut amino “soy” sauce.  And voila – pork fried rice!  Served it with the last of the homemade bloody marys.

After having been underway for the better part of the day, Melissa took some phone calls about job opportunities.  Seems she has landed herself a part time gig working on a SAAS company’s e-Commerce platform strategy.  She is super excited, so we all celebrated by opening the bottle of Apple Cider infused with rosemary and orange spice that we got at the farmer’s market on Ganges.  After which Melissa made some bacon wrapped dates drizzled with balsamic syrup.

Underway Dave whipped (aka repaired) a line.

And then because the sail repair kit was in his hands, and because Melissa has been threatening to toss his favorite boat shorts – the ones with the giant hole – Dave decides to “repair that too”.

The end result is one Dave is completely happy with.  But remember, he was happy with the hole.

We changed destinations because we were making good time.  We were planning on Port Ludlow, but at the last minute Dave decides on Kingston.  Jim did the anchoring maneuver again, and Margaret let down the anchor.  The evening was gorgeous watching the ferry come and go.

This afternoon, Melissa also baked garlic and dried some tomatoes in the oven - making the whole boat smell marvelous.  Jim then made this into a full chicken dinner.  After which we watched the sequel to National Treasure – Book of Secrets.

Day 13 - San Juan Warmer

Breakfast this morning was steak, scrambled eggs with green onions and fresh oregano, and leftover sweet potato hash.  The kitchen might be small but its functional!

We headed into the spa at Poet’s Cove where for $25 each we can use the hot tub, steam cave, and dry infrared sauna, followed by long hot showers.  We agreed that doing this after a few weeks on the boat was great as the long hot shower felt luxurious.

We got back to the boat and got ready to depart for Roche Harbor.  Jim had left the crab line down on the off chance that we might pull up another crab this morning.  But we discovered the line had wound itself around the mooring buoy during the night.  Took Jim and Melissa a good 20 minutes of tugging to get it back aboard.  We didn’t want to lose the shaft zinc we were using as a weight!

We made the hour long run to Roche Harbor during which it started to pour rain.  We pulled up to the customs dock and Melissa and Jim donned their rain jackets to rig the boat for docking.

In theory, no one but the captain is allowed to step foot on land until we are all cleared by customs.  Problem with that is – if Dave’s at the helm, how is he supposed to tie down the boat?  So we do the usual “illegal” thing – Melissa and Jim hop off and quickly tie down the boat and immediately scramble back aboard before anyone gets yelled at.

Dave took the paperwork to the customs officials.  The CPB officer then came back with him to verify that Melissa, Jim, and Margaret matched their passport photos.  Sometimes they let us just sit on the deck and verify – but in the rain there was no way to see us.  And they confiscated all our contraband – citrus, mangoes, and avocados.  Despite them having been purchased in the US to begin with.  Sigh.

We blew it because we talked about juicing all the citrus before crossing the US border and making one more batch of sangria.  Dang it.  We move the boat from the customs dock to our marina slip.  We are happy to be out of the rain!

So ok, its pouring down rain and we need a hot drink to warm up right?  So Melissa heats up some water and makes Market Spice tea (it has lots of cinnamon and orange spice) to which we add the apple pie moonshine we got at the farmer’s market in Ganges.  It was perfect to warm us all up after we got settled at the dock.  We dubbed it the “San Juan Warmer”.

Having lost our avocado and mango that messes up the dinner planning a bit because Melissa had planned shrimp with avocado and mango.  After some debate, we decide to have dinner at Roche Harbor and made a reservation.

Meanwhile though we need a snack.  So Jim starts cracking crab.  Yeah, Tom Douglas said we should do this on deck at sunset.  But the rain makes that problematic.  Meanwhile, Melissa fixes up some more homemade smoked salmon toasts.  

The end product – some gorgeous crab cakes.  Jim coated them with the gluten free nut crumbs Melissa had brought along.  Yumo!

We headed off to dinner at the restaurant.  Everyone ordered the prime rib as its their specialty.  Dave had a blue cheese salad that he said might have been the best he’s ever eaten.  During dinner, Roche Harbor did their traditional colors tribute.  The whole resort goes quiet while they lower the yacht club flag followed by the Washington State flag, the Canada flag, the UK flag, and finally a cannon blast with the US flag.  All while the country anthems play.  We had the perfect view from the restaurant.  The resort is all lit up at night – including the little chapel where they host a lot of weddings.  After dinner we watched National Treasure.

Day 12 - Almost

There are some days you get up and after a while wonder if it might have been better to stay in bed.  Maybe it’s the nearly full moon.  This might have been one of those days.  We dropped the mooring buoy at Otter Bay and headed off to Bedwell Harbor again.  We could all use a soak in the Poet’s Cove Spa hot tub and hang in the steam cave.  So we set out with that goal.  We would fail at that and several other things along the way.

Jim cooked us a great breakfast.  Leftover pork tenderloin and scrambled eggs with green onions.  We put that over corn tortillas with a sprinkle of cheese and salsa.  And Dave insisted on mimosas because “its been days since we had them”.  It was a solid start to the day.

However, Melissa discovered that the remaining blueberries had tried to commit suicide and spread themselves in a big mess in the bottom of the fridge. Sigh. First fail of the day.

Underway, Jim, Margaret, and Melissa have all updated their guess as to who the “murderer” was in their “who done it” game.  They decide to read the solution.  Melissa starts reading out loud, and much of the solution we had right this time.  Alas a couple of very key bits of evidence/puzzles we totally missed.  And in retrospect obvious.  Second fail of the day.

We made our way to Bedwell Harbor and there were a number of open mooring buoys.  So we choose one and Jim and Melissa set up on the bow to grab it as Dave approached it.  Jim snagged it, but the ring wouldn’t come up through the middle.  And it wasn’t tall enough for Melissa to reach and put the line through it.  So Dave says, “get it from the stern”.  This is where the chaos begins. 

Melissa ties one end of the dock line to the bow cleat and runs the line to the aft where Jim grabs it.  Melissa gets the boat hook, and Dave backs up to the buoy.  Tricky because now the wind is blowing pretty good.  But we snag the buoy and loop the line through.  At which point the buoy flips over and twists the rope.  And somehow we also managed to get a knot in the line.  Jim then (under Melissa’s instruction) loops the other end of the rope to the aft cleat.  This makes a triangle – the mooring buoy, and the forward and aft cleats.  The wind is blowing hard so now boat has turned sideways to the wind – and hence the lines are tight as guitar strings – and twisted and knotted.  Doh.  Melissa wonders for a moment if we will have to cut the line because its now too tight to walk the line forward so that both ends of the line are at the bow.  Dave is not a happy captain.  His crew has failed him.  Jim and Dave start pulling with all their might on the line trying to pull it in so that we can get the line off the aft cleat and try to walk it forward.  Jim manages to get it unhooked from the aft cleat.  They both continue to pull.  As they try to walk forward, Jim has to let go for few seconds and Dave lurches over the side.  Melissa squeels.  Dave’s reading glasses – which were tucked in his shirt - go splash.  Oh yeah.  Not a happy captain.  Through sheer force of will, Jim and Dave manage to get the line walked forward – at which point the boat turns into the wind, and they get the line properly tied off.

We would have been better off using our anchor.  Sigh.  Mooring buoys are supposed to be easier.  Not today apparently.  We must have looked like total rookies.  Third fail of the day.

Note: Upon reflection, Dave says that the “right” way to have done this would be to approach the buoy from the stern but in such a way that the wind was blowing us into the buoy so that (hopefully) we could walk the line back the bow without so much tugging and pulling.

We had heard from a friend that they had managed to catch crab by dropping a line in the water with bait tied to it.  Then pull up the line and the crabs won’t let go of their dinner.  We decide to give it a try.  Jim takes the lamb bones we had saved from last night’s dinner and drills holes in them so we can string them on a line.

Here is the readied fishing line.

Dave says “your chances of catching a crab are zero”.  None the less, we purchase Jim a fishing license just in case.  Its only $7 so no biggie even if we fail yet again.  Dave says we should only purchase it if on the off chance we catch something.

An hour later we try to pull up the line.  We theorize that the skiff is the best bet because if in the off chance we actually pull up a crab, we can get it into the bottom of the skiff and then decide how to deal with it.  So Jim and Dave get in the skiff to attempt this maneuver.

Margaret pulls the line.  Cuz Melissa is on camera duty.

And…. a crab is pulled up but jumps off at the last minute…  So we put the line back down.

After hanging out for a bit, Dave and Melissa head off to the liquor store in the skiff.  We are short red wine.  Should be a quick jaunt across the bay.  Key words, “should be”.  We head off with the 2.5 HP motor.  Its slower, but given the time needed to deploy the 20 HP motor using the boom, its going to be faster to go across the bay with the 2.5 HP motor.  Yeah. Not. So. Much.  About 2/3rds of the way there, steam starts coming out of the engine.  Dave stops the motor.  Its overheating.  After starting and stopping several times, Dave determines that the cooling water is not coming through the motor properly.  But it seems to cough and then start working again.  Dave speculates that something got sucked in and then was coughed out.  So he decides to keep going.  A short bit later, the water again turns hot and steam is coming out of the engine.  We turn around.  Dave deduces that the issue is quite likely the fresh water impeller has failed and the water is no longer cooling the engine.  Now this is not a do or die deal.  Melissa has her cell phone.  So even if its too far to row (which it probably is) we can call someone to come get us.  But MacGyver can’t ask for help.  So he babies the engine all the way back.  Jim is up on deck taking pictures.  So Melissa says to Dave, “smile for the pictures!”.  Fourth fail of the day.

Back aboard the boat, Dave and Melissa are SHOCKED to find that Jim has pulled aboard a crab.  Ok, yeah, you didn’t see that coming did you?  Figured that would be another fail?  Nope.  It actually worked.  Much to everyone’s surprise.  Jim kept pulling up the line every 30 minutes or so.  He had a few more crab, but they all jumped off before being pulled back aboard.  He cuts the fat of a steak we planned to have tomorrow for steak and eggs.  That too works as bait, but the crabs successfully make their escape.

We didn’t have any fishing gear aboard.  So Jim crafted crab measuring devices for both red rock and dungeness crab out of wine boxes.

Jim and Dave put the 20 HP motor on the dingy and Melissa and Dave head out yet again to the store.  Red wine is the goal.  This time – success!  We snag some wine and come back aboard.

And then we head out to the spa.  Margaret who is not feeling great stays behind.  By the time we finally get there – its 4:30 and they close at 5:00.  Not feeling like 30 minutes  is worth the $25 per person day pass, we head back to the boat.  Fifth fail of the day.  Blame it on the 2.5 HP motor.

Despite our troubles, the boat next to us seems to be having a worse day.  The husband and wife get into an argument and start screaming at each other.  “F&#+ You!”  Not clear what they are arguing about.  We all go up into the cockpit to watch the carnage.  The wife has now gotten into the dingy.  We speculate she plans to leave.  But she can’t seem to figure out the engine.  More screaming.  Eventually the husband joins her in the dingy.  At which point the physical fight breaks out.  Yes.  We saw her throwing punches – pulling back only a few inches from his face.  He appears to grab her foot and pull her down into the dingy to prevent her from landing a punch.  We can’t hear all the words – but the visuals seem clear enough.  Eventually things seem to calm down a bit.  We *think* maybe she was trying to learn to use the dingy and he was trying to show her.  Husbands should never try to teach wives and vice versa.  Never ends well.  In any case, we are all grateful not to be married to someone who would threaten with punches.

We then cooked the rock crab.  Simple – pot of boiling water.  Pull the crab out when its done.  Well that is only after Captain Dave dispatched and cleaned the crab for us.  (Captain Dave saves the day yet again.)  And then cool it off.  Melissa takes it and puts it in the freezer.  Yeah – fifth fail of the day.  She just dumped a ton of heat into the freezer.  The “normal” process is to put the cooked hot crab into a bag, tie it to a rope, and dunk it in the ocean to cool off.  That way we don’t burn power cooling it down.  Dang it.  She knew that!

Time to cook dinner.  Hamburgers.  Captain Dave’s favorite.  Yesterday Melissa took the hamburgers out of the freezer.  Jim had packaged the hand ground burgers up in two packs of four and one pack of three.  Knowing we were having hamburgers, Melissa defrosted the second pack of four (the first pack of four having already been consumed).  Or so she thought.  Nope, she defrosted the pack of three.  Fail number six.  Jim recovered this by warming the pack of frozen solid burgers in warm water, and then grilling.  Captain Dave was a happy camper because this “fail” means he has an extra burger to eat.  Too full to eat the crab, we leave it for tomorrow.

After dinner, a spider hunt ensues with the vacuum.  We caught yet another 20 spiders.  Yuck.

So in the end, was it a “bad day”?  Nope.  Still a ton of fun.  Good food, good friends, and a few adventures.  Almost perfect.

Day 11 – Quiet Day

By the time Dave and Melissa awoke, Jim had already prepped breakfast.  He had diced up sweet potato and onions for hash.  He cooked that up along side mushroom omelettes.  After which we headed out of Clam Bay headed for Otter Bay.  It’s a nice little marina where we picked up a mooring buoy.

After the guys went into pay for the buoy, we hung out on the boat.  Melissa served some homemade french country pate and the rest of the red sangria.  We are down to one batch of white sangria now.  Must be nearing the end of the trip!

Sitting in the bay, we could hear and see construction going on up on the hillside behind the bay.  The gang spent a good hour speculating on what was being built and how.

As the resort here at the marina had a pool, we all headed in for a quick dip and to lay in the sunshine.  Melissa and Margaret realized that apparently we have an Apsaras uniform thing going on.

The mooring field here is pretty tight and we had speculated that when the wind died and the boats started drifting in different directions – if we went stern to stern with the boat behind us, that it was quite likely that we would hit.  And sure enough when the wind died, we were about to hit – so Dave decided to move Apsaras to another mooring buoy.  It was a bit further out in the bay, and after we got settled we realized we liked it better because the view was better.  We sat and watched the sunset.

Jim then grilled up lamb chops with fresh rosemary while Melissa made quinoa with lemon and parsley.  We served this up with the tzatziki sauce that Melissa made yesterday.  As usual a nice red wine was served.  After which we had a bit of homemade limoncello.

After dinner, we had Dave look at the solution to our murder mystery to tell the rest of us whether we had the solution right or not.  Dave’s comment was, “you guys have a lot of work left to do”.  Uh oh.  What did we miss?

Day 10 – Anchoring Lessons

We awoke to grey skies at the Silva Marina.  Jim whipped us up steak and eggs using leftovers from last night, along with peach yogurt parfaits with with chopped pistachios on top.

We made the short walk to the bus stop to catch the bus into “town”.  Very scenic island.  It was pouring rain when we got to the small village.  We explored the small grocery store and shops before heading back.

Today Jim is again learning more helmsman skills.  He back out of the dock again and steered us through the rapids on our way to Clam Bay.  Along the way we again had the homemade smoked salmon over toasted sourdough bread with garlic cheese spread and fresh basil.

As we approached Clam Bay, Melissa could hear thunder in the distance.  So Melissa and Margaret scrambled to put all the portable electronics gear (phones, laptops, etc) into faraday cadges to protect them just in case the mast gets hit with lightening.

When we reached the anchorage, Jim got instruction from Dave about how to do the maneuver while Melissa instructed Margaret on how to drop the anchor.  Jim backed it down to dig the anchor in and we were all set!

Once we couldn’t hear thunder anymore, Jim and Melissa grabbed the kayaks to explore the fish farms in the bay – which turned out not to be fish farms but oyster farms instead.  Then explored a half sunk 18’ foot skiff (which you can see in the upper left corner of this picture.  Looks to have been there a few months.

Meanwhile Dave was on deck inventing a new comfy way to hang out in the cockpit and put his feet up.

Melissa and Dave got into a discussion about whether the sprayer hose that was formerly connected to the fresh water supply on the boat was repairable.  It had broken off at both ends.  Melissa insisted it was not fixable, and MacGyver insisted it was.  This grin should tell you who ended up being right.

Meanwhile Jim worked on dinner.

Pork tenderloin with lemon and rosemary, delicata squash with fresh oregano, and spinach salad with chopped rosemary pecans.  Paired with a nice bottle of red wine.  Mmmmm.

Melissa was demoted to swab when she tried to vacuum up two spiders and missed one of them.  It ran and hid.  Dang it.  Those spiders are getting pretty fast at avoiding the vacuum cleaner!

We saw an otter swim by.  Dave asked if we were seeing otters in Clam Bay today, does that mean we will get clams at Otter Bay tomorrow?  And then we watched the moon rise over the calm bay and were happy as clams.  Movie tonight was “When Harry Met Sally”.

Day 9 - Jim becomes the helmsman

Last night discussion ensued about Dave teaching Jim how to back the boat out of the slip.  Tight quarter maneuvering is a challenge.  Even Melissa has never been brave enough to try it.  And frankly, why would she when she’s got Captain Dave?  Melissa suggested that maybe a lesson out in the open water so Jim can get a feel for how fast the boat turns when the wheel is turned and how hard to push the throttle might be wise.  But Dave insists that in the open water its just not the same anyway.

Training Jim is just as much about Jim learning as it is Dave testing himself to see if he can teach it.  He’s a great captain – but he does so much of it “by feel” that it’s a challenge to see if he can break what he does down well enough to explain it.  Melissa and Margaret had the boat poles ready – but they weren’t needed.  Jim backed Apsaras out of the slip perfectly!  We all cheered!  Then Margaret wanted a lesson in how to coil the dock lines up so they hang neatly on the life lines.  So Melissa demonstrated and Margaret practiced.  Jim stayed at the helm under Dave’s watchful eye.

Melissa went down to finish breakfast – which was steel cut oats with protein powder, vanilla and maple syrup.  And a side of breakfast sausage.

All was well until Captain Dave noticed that the dock fenders had not been stowed.  Ooops – the crew got distracted when we pulled away from the dock.  Dave goes out on deck to put them away and tosses one over the side.  “Man overboard” he yells.  Melissa comments to Jim, “this drill is our punishment for not putting away the fenders”.  Unbeknownst to Dave, Margaret was in the shower.  Not realizing no one had actually fallen in, she comes racing out.  Luckily still dressed.  This gets a laugh.  Dave gives Jim instructions on how to approach the fender so he can retrieve it without running over it.  Important cuz running over someone isn’t usually good for them.  Dave reminds Melissa that the first time she practiced this maneuver she ran over “him” going full speed.

Back underway, we make our way to Gabriola pass.  It’s a place where the water comes in and out on the tides and can run as fast as 8 knots.  Since we go 6 knots, we have to wait till slack tide – or near to it – to make the passage.  We went through on a max current of about 2 knots.  Jim was still at the helm.  He did a great job of hand steering through the whirly current.

Yesterday Dave thought he saw Joint Decision.  She’s a 57 foot Nordhaven vessel.  Years ago we rescued them up north in Canada.  We’ve watched for them off and on to see if we would ever cross paths with them again.  Dave was kicking himself later for not hailing them and meeting up.  So today we went ahead and tried to reach them on Channel 16 (the common hailing radio channel).  They answered right away and we switched over to Channel 68 to chat with them.  They said they had always wondered what happened to us.  Dave told them we made it through the panama canal and then had the boat shipped home.  They are nearing the end of their cruising season.  And we agreed to try and meet up again someday!

We made our way to Silva Marina and Resort on Gabriola Island.  We’ve never been here before.  So this checks the box on Dave’s goal to go new places.  When we finished docking and were having a beer, the yellow jacket bees showed up.  They’ve shown up a few times and we keep forgetting to get a bee trap to hang off the back.  Then Dave remembers – before we left on our 2 year venture – we had screen doors made for the cockpit that allow the air flow but keep the critters out.  We did this after returning from Alaska where the biting flies drove us crazy.  We dig them out, and no more bees in the cockpit and cabin!

We tried to make it into town, but on Sunday the bus doesn't run.  And the taxi is unreliable.  So we hung on the boat having a lazy afternoon.  We had snacks - another metze appetizer plate.  Homemade salami, homemade pecans with rosemary, artichoke dip with chips, and veggies.

For dinner Melissa marinated tri-tip steaks in coconut aminos (soy sauce substitute), honey, and garlic, which Jim then grilled along side some baby bok choy.  A great red wine - and that's dinner!  Afterwards we watched the movie, "Sully".  A great one!

Day 8 – We eat better than Tom Douglas thinks

No new webs this morning!  We must be winning against the spiders!

Our plan this morning was to head into the dock and fill the water tanks, then head for the farmers market at Telegraph Harbor.  After which we would head for Ladysmith and get more groceries as our stores are running low.  Melissa had planned that we would eat ashore more often than we have.  Cuz.  Jim and Melissa love to cook.

First order of the day is to fill the water tanks.  So we head to the dock at Chemanus.  A guy on the dock comes to help with the lines.  Sometimes, “help” isn’t particularly helpful though.  Jim throws him the stern line which he pulls in.  You would think that would be a good thing.  But physics.  If you pull on the stern, the boat rotates about the center of gravity and sends the bow out away from the dock.  Problematic because Dave can put the stern wherever he wants with the prop and rudder.  The bow though he can’t put on the dock.  Melissa asks the guy to grab the bow line and pull it in.  He informs her that, “I’ve been at this many years and this will work”.  His plan was to tie the stern line and have Dave go forward till the boat lands on the dock.  Problem with that plan is that as the boat then rotates towards the dock, the bow will roll in and hit where we don’t have fenders down.  Melissa looks back at Dave who is now rolling his eyes and saying, “this isn’t working”.  Because the bow is now away from the dock, its too far for us to jump and fix ourselves.  Melissa in frustration finally begs the guy to take the bow line, and says, “this boat has been through the Panama Canal – we’ve a pretty experienced captain”.  At this point he grabs the bow line – though clearly irritated with us.  Dave jumps off and pushes the bow off before we get a scrape in the side.

We fill with water and then head to the farmer’s market across the bay.

When we get to the other side of the bay, Dave calls the marina to see if they have a spot for us to tie up for a couple of hours, only to be told there is no farmer’s market today. Dang!  Ok, well off to Ladysmith we go.  Jim is already working on breakfast.  This morining Jim is making risotto cakes – but this time as a version of eggs benedict with Canadian bacon, poached egg, and hollandaise.  Just like the other day when we made “real” eggs benedict – it’s a two person job – so Melissa puts in the assist.  It’s a tight fit that requires close coordination.

And the aftermath that is Margaret’s mess to clean up is again epic.

But the end result was worth it!

Yesterday Melissa blended up jalapeño peppers, red onion, garlic, and heirloom tomatoes into a version of a V8 so that we could make bloody marys.  A bit of chili salt on the rim and a pickled green bean – and – yum.

The short run to Ladysmith was smooth.  And when we reached the marina, Melissa handed the bow line to someone on the dock.  This time the guy grabbed the line and did the right thing - nothing.  Dave navigated right to the dock.  When the guy handed Melissa back the line and she said "thanks", he replied, "I didn't do nothing.  The captain obviously knows what he's doing."  Yep.

Ladysmith was where Apsaras resided for the first year after she came home from Panama.  So we know we can get good supplies here.  Jim, Melissa, and Margaret walk the 1.3 miles to the relatively well stocked grocery and liquor store.  We stocked up and decided to call a taxi to take us back to the marina.  At which point Melissa had to pull everything out of the fridge and freezer and repack it like a jigsaw puzzle to fit everything in.  Yep, we are ready to eat and drink like kings for the next week.

A bit of project planning then transpired to decide what boat projects we might (or might not) takle.  Melissa has really been wanting Dave to install an anchor washdown pump.  It’s a pump that pulls up ocean water and would allow Melissa to wash the anchor chain and anchor when they get pulled up from a muddy bottom.  Problem is that while we bought the pump ages ago, Dave has been hesitant to install it.  His plan has been to snake a pipe from the one spare through-hole (a hole plumbed into the bottom of the boat) up to the bow of the boat to the pump.  But snaking the hose around the bulkheads and corners of the boat is a challenge.  Jim meanwhile has been egging this discussion on claiming that he is good at snaking.  And the boys did just finish snaking wires for the ampmeter.  Jim comments that, “I have to be nice to all my friends equally – but there is nothing to say I can’t pit them against each other”, which gets a big laugh.  Melissa (again) points out that we don’t actually need to snake the hose because she would be perfectly happy to throw a hose into the water and suck it up when the pump is running.  Which then causes an “ah ha” moment for Dave – who realizes that if we do that, then the pump would be available to pump water from any compartment.  Including the anchor locker.  While all the bilges drain or get pumped naturally, there is always a slimy mess at the bottom of some.  A pump aboard that we could both use to get an endless supply of water from the ocean (or lake) to wash stuff down, and also suck up water could be really useful.  This lights off a discussion about how much easier it would be to do that.  But we are missing a few parts.  We need a waterproof on/off switch and another hose connector that can be mounted inside the anchor compartment.  The pump itself can be mounted behind the bathroom mirror in the bow – right underneath the anchor compartment.  Melissa might get her wash down pump after all!

Well known chef Tom Douglas and Thierry Rautureau (nicknamed The Chef In The Hat who is the chef/owner of restaurants, Loulay and Luc, in Seattle) do a radio show on KIRO-FM called Seattle Kitchen.  Jim was in the audience recently.  Chef Rautureau was on vacation, and they lost their third co-host to another job.  The producer asked Jim if he was a good cook, and not knowing why she asked, he said, “I’m a great cook”.  And she asked if Jim would like to be on the radio and be Tom’s co-host for a couple of segments - the first time ever an audience member has been asked to be a co-host.  They put Jim on a segment called “kitchen hacks” on August 11.  Jim was asked to comment on various hacks and whether he had any to offer up.  When he was asked whether butter should be left out on the counter or put in the fridge, Jim replied that he uses unsalted butter, so he leaves it in the fridge because the salt is what preserves it.  Tom retorted that it can last a few days out of the fridge, and so Jim just doesn't eat enough butter.  But in the end, Tom said, "he's a pretty darn fine home cook".

So when the show posted this question on their Facebook page, Jim just had to ask a question about what to fix on our cruise.

The answer that came back on today’s show wasn’t bad – to put down crab traps and serve the crab with a bit of melted butter.  Yeah, ok, that’s a good idea.  But they also said that they didn’t figure we would have fresh herbs aboard.  So we should serve ritz crackers with the crab.  What?!  Oh.  They really don’t know us, do they?  We have fresh dill, oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, parsley, mint, and cilantro.

Tonight’s dinner was a labor of love.  Hamburgers.  Ok, not so unusual you might think.  But here’s the prep that went into them:  First, Jim made the burger meat.  He started with one part hanger steak, four parts short rib, and four parts aged rib eye.  He then cuts to 1/2 in cubes before feeding through his grandmother’s vintage hand grinder set to 3 to 4mm.  He forms the ground meat into 1/3 lb burgers with a thumb print indentation in the middle (to keep them flat when grilling).  He packaged them up and froze them so that we would have them for the trip.  Second, Melissa made homemade BBQ sauce.  She takes katchup, honey, crushed pinneapple, and spices and simmers for a few hours.  She jars it up and freezes it.  A few days ago Jim and Melissa (at Dave’s request for pickles which we didn’t have onboard) took cucumber and onion slices and soaked them in red wine vinnegar and salt.  They’ve been curing on the counter all this time.  Tonight, Jim then carmelized some more onions and sauteed mushrooms.  We cut up more fresh onion and avacado.  That plus the usual mayo, mustard, and ketchup completed the set of condiments to choose from while building your burger.  To go with the burgers, Melissa made a spinnach, pecan, blue cheese and dried cranberry salad with fresh made dijon dressing.

After dinner we watched the movie “Sahara”.  One of our favs that Jim and Margaret have never seen before.

Day 7 – More excitement than we like

As we had a ton of leftover risotto, Jim made risotto cakes with a poached egg on top for breakfast.  Yumo!

We continue to struggle with the last code that needs to be broken in the murder mystery.  Jim has been saying that it seems like the website we are now on must be related to a whole different mystery.  So Melissa looks up the Hunt-A-Killer website – and sure enough – there is another game matching the description of the time frame and characters talked about on the website.  We’ve been cracking a different game - because they used the same website in two different games!  Doh!  No wonder it felt like we couldn’t find the key!

It’s a beautifully calm morning and the anchorage is gorgeous, but its time to move on to a new spot.  Wallace Island is our intended destination.  Dave starts the engine (again difficult requiring Dave to use juice from the house batteries).  He is now convinced the starter motor needs replacing (yet again – for like the third or fourth time) because its pulling way more amperage than it should.  Dave then instructs Jim to let go of the mooring bouy.  Only to look round and find he has forgotten to put the wheel back on – so he has no steering other than the autopilot.  Ooops.  We take the wheel off because when we are at anchor it creates more space in the cockpit.

At Wallace Island, there is a small cove where boats anchor and stern tie.  See all the boats lined up with their bows out away from shore?  They are anchored off their bow, and tied with long ropes to shore to keep them all oriented the same way in this narrow cove.

After some debate, we pick out an anchoring spot that has a chain attached to shore where we can secure our long line.  After Melissa drops the anchor, Jim heads over to shore in the skiff with the long line.

Once Jim brings the line back, Dave pulls us into the shore to straighten us out.  Alas we find the anchor is dragging.  So we pull up the anchor and set it again.  This time it seems to hold fine.

Dave and Jim head off in the kayaks to explore the cove.  Dave grabs his handheld depth meter and checks to see what dept we will have under the stern when the tide drops 10 foot later tonight.  Looks like we have plenty of room.

Alas, when the wind kicked up, the anchor drug again and we found ourselves moving towards the boat next to us.  Ok, this is now an “all hands on deck” exercise.  Dave at the helm, Melissa pulls up the anchor, and Jim lets the long line loose.  After which Jim has to hold the ropes for the kayaks because they are not floating lines and could go under and get wrapped in the prop.  We debate whether to try again, but Melissa comments that Apsaras has never really liked to stern tie (or double anchor).  Apsaras has a lot of windage (big sides) so the wind tends to push us around pretty good when we anchor this way.  So Dave decides to head out.  And wouldn’t you know it – Dave’s cell phone chooses this moment to overheat and shutdown.  Problematic because the chart program Dave uses is on there.  He has backup on his laptop, but in the scramble Dave decides to navigate out through the reefs by memory.  Thank goodness he has a good memory.  We get out and then have to organize the decks – getting the kayaks back aboard, lifting up the dingy, and winding up the long line back onto its spool.

And we are underway again.  This time headed to the town of Chemainus.  Or so we thought.  Dave saw the ferry dock and headed into a bay – only to find it was the wrong bay!  Doh.  That’s ok, now we are moving downwind so Dave can put up the jib and sail his boat without tipping her over.  With all the people, gear, and food, we aren’t set up to lean over a lot.

Upon nearing Chemainus we find a debris line – a place where logs and other debris bunch up.  Melissa went up on the bow to ensure we didn’t hit a log – but it turns out Dave had no trouble picking his way through them.  We then grabbed a mooring buoy.  Shortly after which Dave and Jim headed out in the dingy to push one of the big logs that was being blow straight at us off the beeline course it was making for us.  We’ve been hit by deadheads while at anchor before, so its not likely to sink us.  But it can mar the fiberglass, so best to avoid it.

Lunch was melon wrapped with pancetta, along with some other leftovers and fresh guacamole and salsa.  Alongside a nice white sangria.

After lunch someone said – looking at the juice left in the bowl from the salsa – that someone should use that and make a bloody mary out of it.  Hmmm.  We have a ton of heirloom tomatoes left that are about ready to turn bad.  So Melissa gets out the hand blender and with Jim as taste tester makes up a batch of what amounts to spicy V8.  She stored it away in the fridge and we can decide later when we want to drink it.

The boys then jump back in the skiff and head off to town to pay for the mooring buoy. 

Jim rewired the cockpit outlets.  During out two year voyage, Dave moved the cockpit 110V outlets to a small inverter so that he wouldn’t have to run the big inverter at night on overnight passages.  But the little inverter won’t create enough juice to power the vacuum cleaner he’s been using to suck up spiders.  So we’ve lived with an extension cord running down from the cockpit to the kitchen outlet.  Jim rewired all but one outlet back to the main inverter so we could ditch the extension cord.

Jim whipped the kayak ropes because they were fraying badly while Dave played the “Whip It” song by Devo.


On a roll, Jim then fixed the kitchen light which was intermittent.  There was a loose rivet that held the wire to the socket.  Likely the original incandescent bulb heated it up and loosened it.

Next on the list – fire up the water maker.  We don’t really need it – we can get water at almost any marina - except up here in the islands where water is scarce.  The reason we need to cycle it is that the membrane that separates the salt from the water can be damaged by bacteria.  So while its been “pickled” (a process whereby it is filled with a solution that prevents bacteria from growing), it still should be run to flush it out and the re-pickled at least once a year.  First Dave’s got to remember how its all hooked up because its been a while since he turned it on.  Its complicated.

We are starting to win out over the spiders.  There are way less than there were.  And the spiders now run and hide now when they hear the vacuum cleaner running.  At sunset we only vacuumed up a few.

Jim and Melissa inventoried the food remaining.  Bottom line, we have 3 to 4 days fresh food aboard and 7 days remaining in the voyage.  So we need to either plan on eating ashore at restaurants or we will need more provisions at some point.  To which Dave said, “With you and Jim cooking, why would we eat out?”  Yeah.  Ok.  Point taken.  Captain Dave says that here at Chemainus is best unless we want to head for Ladysmith.  Ladysmith being where the boat was anchored when she was brought home from Panama.  They have a great grocery.  We land on a plan – head for telegraph harbor where there is a farmer’s market in the morning to see what produce and other goodies we can score.  Then we head for Ladysmith.

At sunset, we watched a woman swimming across the bay.  Mind you the water is a balmy 67 degrees.  Brrrr.  She swims all the way to a buoy across the bay and back.  At least a half mile round trip if not more.   As she swims by – we have agreed we will all cheer her on.  She stops to explain that the water is great we should all jump in.  And that the buoy she rounded marks an airplane that was sunk to start a new reef.

Another debate then ensues about breakfast.  Dave votes for another round of eggs benedict.  But we could score some crab and have crab benedict if we wait.  Plus we still have leftover risotto.  So how about a compromise?  Thin risotto cakes – similar to this morning – but with Canadian bacon and poached egg topped with hollandaise?  Yeah.  Ok.  That means Jim and Melissa will be crammed into the “one man” kitchen tomorrow morning.

Discussion also ensued about the various duties and workload.  Margaret said she was perfectly happy being on kitchen duty.  Melissa loves this as she is happy to destroy the kitchen cooking and then not have to clean up.  Dave seconded this as he is normally the kitchen cleanup crew.  Jim was like, hey, I am the “crossover” meaning that he both helps in the kitchen and does boat fix-it projects.  But he didn’t actually seem unhappy.  Bragging maybe?

Then it was movie time - "A Fish Named Wanda".

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