This is a blog featuring my personal stories of food, gardening, yachting, photography, travel and life.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Canadian Cruise Projects

Wow! I looked at the date of my last blog and, well, I feel ashamed to have let down all my fans. You both should have messaged me or some thing to the effect that you missed me! Geez!

So, guess what my topic for this blog will be. Yeah, good guess. Right where I left off. The boat!

Chatterbox Falls in Princess Louis Inlet.  
The big news is that we are planning our very first major trip on the boat. We've been out for a few days at a time, maybe a week, barely. But this is a biggee!

Last August, when we were at the annual Camp Sucia Rendezvous with members of the Bellingham Sail and Power Squadron and Langley (B.C.) Power Squadron, a topic of conversation came up about taking a group cruise north up into Canada. Our main destinations would be the Princess Louisa Inlet and Desolation Sound. Princess Louisa Inlet is considered mecca for northwest boaters. Stunning 3,000 foot mountains drive straight out of the sound and tower over those venturing in. Your ultimate reward, after a 30 mile cruise up the narrow inlet, is the scene above. Stunning! 

The idea of a caravan cruise got me excited right away since I knew that it would make Leslie much more comfortable to have several travel partners in their boats heading to the identical destination and into waters completely unfamiliar to us.
An aerial view of Desolation Sound.

This past Fall, an interest group got together and had its first meeting. It went over really well to say the least. Folks got really excited about the idea. Of course, like a lot of things, folks have dropped off the list. But others have come on board as well. As of now, we have 6-8 boats interested. Some, like us plan to be gone for an extended period--about a month. Others will stay with us for a week or two and head home. Others will join us along the pre-planned route.

Since that first meeting, we have had another and the next one will be held in the next couple of weeks here at our house.

Our planning group has brought up several important things that needed to be done before we head over the border and I have steadily been working towards getting these projects completed. They are all important legally speaking when cruising in Canada but will also be useful wherever we are.

Project #1: Radio Station License and Individual Limited Operator's License.

These licenses are not specifically important to have in the United States, but take your boat outside the U.S. and they become mandatory. So, I bit the  bullet and applied for them. Turns out the FCC is very happy to take your money and send you a very official looking document making it legal to broadcast on your VHF marine radio. $220 later I have two documents making me a legal VHF radio operator and, my boat, a radio station.

What does that mean? If I were boarded by the Canadian coast Guard, they would want to see those documents or you could be fined. Check!

Project #2: Ditch Bag

One of the things your boat should have in the event of an emergency abandon ship situation is a ditch bag, meaning in case you have to "ditch" the big boat for your dinghy-- fire aboard, or any catastrophic event that would force you off your boat, you should have a ditch bag.

The ditch bag itself is important. It should be waterproof, should float and should hold the emergency supplies you'd need in such an instance. As we are seldom far from land in our travels, I have planned the contents of my ditch bag to have items that would keep us safe for 2-3. I've included water, granola bars, a waterproof hand-held VHF radio and GPS device, extra batteries for the electronics, space blankets, a tarp, first aid materials, a knife, some line, gloves, chemical hand warmers, a 3 mile visible strobe light, and a solar/hand crank LED flashlight. I also have flares of different types in a waterproof plastic container. We will hopefully have our inflatable life jackets with us which also have whistles and will eventually have their own flashing strobe lights attached to them.

The orange bag will be stowed in a quick-to-reach location so it can be grabbed on the way to the dinghy. I hope we will never have to use this bag or its contents but when and if we do, we'll be ready. The Canadian Coast Guard will also be happy to see it aboard.

Project #3: Dinghy Registration

Like a new furnace or water heater for your house, a ship's radio license and registering our dinghy is money spent that doesn't really show. The ditch bag and its contents are real tangible objects that have a use aboard. Nevertheless, other countries want to see that registration if they pull you over to inspect you and it does happen.

In the U.S. a dinghy our size with an outboard motor our size doesn't have to be registered if it is only used to tender the passengers and crew to and from shore. It can't be used to go fishing, to putt putt around the harbor or go pick up your crab pots.

So, I decided to get the registration sticker and numbers for the dinghy making it legal to for any use. It's like having a second  boat attached, no, wait, it is a second boat attached to the rear end of your big boat with all the rights and privileges. And, again, the Canadian Coast Guard can get persnickety about this so why mess.

Project #4: Stern Tie Project

It is not uncommon when you have to anchor out in Canadian coves and bays, that space limitations make it necessary to tie the stern of your boat off to the shore. This and your anchor hopefully keep your boat from swinging and possibly damaging other nearby boats. 300-400' of brightly colored poly line (so it floats and is visible) are taken to shore in your dinghy, looped around a tree or rock or existing ring and then back to the boat. Both bitter ends are tied off at the stern of the boat. Between the anchor and the stern tie, your boat should remain in place and well away from neighbors. When you're ready to go just untie one end of the line and start reeling it in. A lot of boats have a fancy stern tie reel mounted to the boat and the line is hand reeled onto the reel where it stays until the next use. These reels are usually made of heavy stainless steel and are priced at a couple of hundred dollars without the line or the installation (hey, its a boat!) Mike, the owner of Pacific Marine, a used boat parts store here in B'ham, had another suggestion. He went in his back room and brought out an empty Sampson Rope reel. Made of heavy PVC black plastic, Mike explained how to make a reel for a fraction of the price of those fancy S/S ones.  

Well, getting all that done ought to keep me busy for a while. Add to that some bright work needing doing and repainting of a couple of places on deck and I will be busy right up to our proposed 8 July departure date. Whew!