Friday, July 29, 2011

Chilling out and Forward Plans

We had a chilled time in Victoria; in fact we always do! There are good walks along the water to Fisherman's Wharf, along with clams and mussels for lunch at Barb's. One evening we found good Indian food at JR's Curry House, it goes down well especially after the Hop Circle IPA which you can find at the Sticky Wicket. Then there are the book shops in Victoria; a seemingly endless supply of secondhand books to browse through; our bookshelves are getting nice and crowded. We very much enjoyed our few days but finally it was time to move on. We had picked a day when the wind was going to be 30 knots; we backed carefully out of our slip since the wind was already up in the harbour.There were only a few boats out that day, the cruisers we saw had no stabilizers and were being steered from the flybridge - no thank you, Last Mango nosed through the hefty seas no problem. We had an appointment to keep; I had been monitoring the main and gen hours carefully and we were coming up to a significant service for both, so I had called Delta Marine in Sidney to get everything checked over. We would have been quite happy to change fluids and filters but I wanted some expertise to do the valve clearances and all the other things on the 1,000 hour list. Johnny did appreciate the attention, after Kane had spent two days with him one-on-one, he was really purring. Thank you Delta Marine for a job very well done.

Goose-neck barnacles, Vancouver Island
  We left Sidney and headed north; I think Last Mango knows her way to Gabriola on her own. Pulling into Degnen Bay there was a certain eagerness to tie up at the friendly dock she was tied to over the winter. On this occasion, we will be here for just two or three weeks while we head off to Europe for a round of family visits.

Now we have a few spare days we have been able to do some planning for the months ahead. Indeed it is a luxury to have the time (and decent internet service!) to get things organized. One of the first things was to get our mail sent to us for the first time for six months. Through the four addresses we get with our Mail Boxes Etc service our mail accumulates in the local office around the corner in Via Argentina, Panama. All it takes is an email and it is FedExed to us wherever we are, and it took only four days to arrive. That was one day to go through it all and get up to date with the filing, reassured that there was very little that hadn't been already dealt with over the internet. And the magazine bank is now full once again. I even had some back copies of "Accountancy" to catch up on (no, don't take this seriously, they hit the recycling straight away! - with apologies to those that are not retired - yet).

I have now also had time to invest in reviewing Last Mango's bank of spares. In the forward hold (aka the "Wine Cellar" on some sister ships!) we carry a number of large storage boxes full of recurring maintenance items (oil and fuel filters) and some replacement parts for key systems. This is one area up for some serious review and we need to widen our spares inventory and extend the regular items - my plan is to give us a suitable measure of independence since John Deere/Northern Lights dealerships will be less frequent on our travels soon. Looking at forward plans, we leave Canadian waters later in August and head south. The first stretch is the notorious Washington and Oregon coast, known for its strong winds and few harbours, all of which can only be accessed after bar crossings timed at particular states of the sea and tide. We take on board an experienced crew member for this leg of the trip to San Francisco since we will probably have to stay well offshore for much of the passage to avoid the heavy seas - and the crab pots. Down in California we have some plans and we will take time to review our communications equipment to see what upgrades it might be useful to make. 
Scarlett fearlessly faces the raccoon........
And we will actually get to our yacht club, Pacific Mariners, in Marina del Rey. That is going to be a party!

Here in Degnen Bay the wildlife show carries on around us. From time to time a raccoon is bold enough to scout around the rocks on the shore underneath Rooks Haven but often he is detected by the fearless mother-and-son team of Scarlett and Winston. Susie and I have also been out exploring in the dinghy, there is a Sunday market over in Silva Bay where the Gabriola artisans sell their wares. We also went to dinner with friends Bill and Lyn from s/v Canik, last seen heading East from Haida Gwaii, who had sailed to Gabriola to meet up with other friends.....who knew our friends.....who knew.......(six degrees of separation theory proved again).

In the advance plan category, Last Mango is now signed up to join the FUBAR rally into Mexico in November. This is a biennial event for motor yachts and there are over 30 boats already signed up - including 8 Nordhavns - so far - so it should be quite a trip. Our good friends Iain and Sandra will join us as crew for the rally; Iain's sailing experience and their knowledge of Mexico and Spanish will be very useful. And FUBAR stands for Fleet Underway to Baja Rally, by the way, so we are not planning to be joined by Snafu, Tarfu or Fubar originals ("Three Brothers" 1944).

For advance visitor planning, after Mexico we are heading home to Panama for Christmas where we will be for a couple of months. Then, in February, we depart across the Pacific. This timing of a Pacific trip allows for about eight months' cruising across and through the islands before one exits the cyclone zone by November, when boats move on to New Zealand. For the first long leg of the Pacific crossing we have another captain with us. For the onward legs from French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, Tonga we look forward to adventurous visitors!

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