Monday, February 11, 2013

Settling in at the Shipyard

Rhapsody was carefully lowered, slowly and gently, onto the largest, longest boat trailer I have ever seen. 

The building was nearly empty when we first arrived.

Notice the blocking along the hull, placed to hold her snugly in position.

The yellow set of stairs, topped with a wooden platform, was a welcome improvement over an aluminum ladder.

New neighbors arrived via the TraveLift. 

Our side of the building was a busy place, fully packed with boats this past week.

The yellow trailer has been a convenient piece of equipment since the shipyard has moved Rhapsody around a bit since haulout: into the building, out into the yard, back inside the building, in and out more than once, shifted to different spots. Logistics at work.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Hauling Out

Out of the water...

...and under cover.

Rhapsody is at the shipyard, well-situated in a heated, covered building, ready for several projects on her exterior and interior.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Grab the Bird Book

"Who are those guys anyway?"
                                   Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Photo: Bufflehead, drab females and striking males, in winter plumage.
"Quick grab the binoculars... pick up a camera... find the bird books", and then poof! at some sudden unseen/unheard signal, an entire flock suddenly dives and disappears. Some days I'm lucky. I have my camera in hand when a sea bird pops back up, close enough to the boat to grab a shot or two before it dives again or speeds away. Those little guys are fast!

I can identify a Barrow's Goldeneye on the water with some certainty, it's distinctive spots and yellow eye provide major clues. But a quick glance at a black and white pattern on a fast-moving bird in flight might make me think "loon" instead. 

Cormorants have a distinctive shape, their silhouette alone identifies them in flight and at rest. There's no question who has claimed the red buoy below as their temporary hangout.

From a distance I still hesitate over some birds that should be easy to name. When seen through a telephoto lens, the vibrant coloration on the head and neck of this bird clearly shows it's a Bufflehead. Sigh. Identification isn't that easy when birds won't stay still. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Dodd Narrows

Nanaimo, B.C. to Selby Cove, Prevost Island, B.C.
30.3 nautical miles                      4.25 hours travel time

Photo: Approaching Dodd Narrows from the northwest at slack current.
Dodd Narrows is a very narrow passage that we navigate on the route between Nanaimo and Victoria. A lot of water moves this restricted little channel twice a day; heavy currents of 7 knots or more rush through there at full flood or ebb. That's too strong for a vessel like Rhapsody since we routinely travel between 8.5 and 9 knots. We prefer to wait for slack water at Dodd, though slack is a relative term. The water never does stand still; whirlpools and eddies continue to swirl and shift about during the 15 to 20 minutes of minimum current. Fast boats may enjoy the excitement of roaring through this passage to challenge the faster currents, but not us. I have marveled at the idiots that race along to weave through crowds of traffic or zigzag around a slow-moving tug with its logboom tow. What were they thinking? Myself, I would rather travel through in slack water, negotiating the dog-leg turn without other vessels for company. Who needs excitement at Dodd Narrows?!

The current table listed slack before flood at the Narrows at 1:08 pm. The earlier slack before ebb had occurred several hours before dawn, but running through Dodd in the dark didn't tempt us at all. We cast off at noon and ran slowly, adjusting speed to arrive at the appropriate time. Once through Dodd Narrows we continued on south, cruising in sunshine against a 1 knot current all afternoon until we anchored in Selby Cove, Prevost Island.  

Photo: Shoreside walker takes photo of me taking a photo of her.

Photo: Sunset at Selby Cove, Prevost Island

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Nanaimo Harbor

Nanaimo. Now there's a name to call up memories, some recent and others decades old. Nanaimo meant sunny summer boating in our early-married years. We felt oh! so adventurous after we upgraded to a fast 24' Sea Ray and finally cruised north of the American San Juan Islands, crossed the Georgia Straits and the Canadian border to spend RL's too-short vacation time in British Columbia. Scuba diving, fishing, water skiing and exploring filled our days with non-stop activity, and our time in port was just as busy. Nanaimo Harbor featured a shopping mall with convenient access to replenish ice for the coolers, and to buy the groceries and beverages that we couldn't legally bring across the border. Then there was the year we hit town the weekend of the Bathtub Race - OMG, what a crazy harbor happening! The bathtub boats departed Nanaimo Harbor (on Vancouver Island) and headed across some big water to the city of Vancouver (on the mainland), but the party reportedly went on for days. 

In recent years we've just passed through Nanaimo on road trips to and from the boat. We use the Duke Point ferry as our Vancouver Island access point, lingering in town only when necessary to sit in line at the terminal's parking lot, waiting to board the ferry. My August seaplane stop in Nanaimo (link) doesn't count as a visit since we were back in the air again minutes later. 

The shorter hours of winter daylight didn't encourage us to wander through town on this month's cruise south. We did meet some interesting boaters on the dock and enjoyed a leisurely cruise of Nanaimo's working waterfront the next day as we departed. I'd like to spend more time shoreside exploring southern Vancouver Island, the parts we don't see from the water.

Photo: Containers and container cranes line the waterfront.

Photo: Small but mighty yard tug works the log booming ground.

Photo: This large Colossus of a ship had an unusual bow profile.

Photo: B.C. ferries link Vancouver Island with the mainland and smaller islands.
Trivia question: What do you call a Canadian harbormaster or dock master?
Answer: Wharfinger