Friday, September 7, 2012

Day 25- Thursday, September 06, 2012- Toquart Bay- Abundant Life!

Day 25- Thursday, September 06, 2012- Toquart Bay- Abundant Life!
Today was one of those special days that I will never forget.  It was my dream day of cruising, even though we never started an engine, except the genset.  Last night we were lulled to sleep by the sound of thousands of little fish (mackerel, pilchards, or herring, maybe) jumping making the water look and sound like a boiling pot of water.  The sea lions were all around the boat hunting them and so were a pair of hungry humpback whales.  The seagulls were retrieving the scraps while the eagles were chattering in the tree tops.  These are not just quiet little sounds.  These are massive big splashes.  We watched and listened all evening and fell asleep to the wonderful sounds.
This morning, we woke up to the same sounds and sights.  It was a bright, sunny, warm day and the bay was like a mirror, except for all the fish splashes that surrounded us on all sides.  I finally jumped out of bed the last time when a huge humpback breached right beside the boat…I mean, right beside.  We could feel his wake move the boat and smell his bad morning fish breath.  I sat on deck in my underwear for an hour just watching the whales, sea lions, and seals enjoy their brunch.  Connor and Val joined me and all felt like we had been given a miraculous gift from God.  We burned a lot of film but our timing is never perfect but here are a couple of pictures that turned out pretty good.

I thought it would be great fun to go kayaking in the midst of the action so down it came. Val and Connor wanted to go clam digging on the beach.  All the toys were in the water and the fun began.  We all dug clams and picked oysters with great success.  It was very warm and the sun was extreme so I went for a nice swim.  Then we each took a turn in the kayak.  My turn lasted a couple of hours as I was on the hunt for bear and whale but both seemed to take the afternoon off.  Val spotted one on the beach earlier but I think he went to take a snoozer in the forest.  I still had a great time paddling up the Toquart River and sneaking up on hundreds if not a thousand seagulls and just enjoying this amazing creation.

I was pretty stealthy sneaking up on these guys.

This photo was taken from my kayak...the water is so clear and the seaweed is so colorful!
When I got back to the boat, Val was playing Scrabble and Connor was doing his schoolwork.  I checked the forecast and charts in preparation for our run back into Washington through the Strait of Juan De Fuca.  This crossing makes me nervous!  The weather looks good for tomorrow and Sunday.  Val and Connor voted for Sunday.  Yeah!  We’re not ready to leave yet.
I decided to take the dinghy to check out the Lucky River, just around the corner.  Connor opted to play his PS3 video game as he hasn’t played for weeks.  His loss.  Val and I went alone (aka, no dogs) so we could get the dinghy up on plane and get their quickly.  Wow!  This place was amazing.  The scenery up and down the river was stunning and the falls were awesome.  There were cliffs and pools and falls….great jumping and swimming for me!  The cool water was so refreshing on a hot day.  Connor would have loved it!

Back on the Dakota Roamer, Val made a big pot of the most fantastic Cioppino I’ve ever had.  A great Italian red base with lots of the fresh shrimp, clams, mussels, salmon, and halibut that we caught, along with a side salad and fresh baked home made Italian bread.  Oh, wow.  Words cannot describe how wonderful it was!
The little fish are gone tonight.  So are the sea lions, seals, and whales.  It’s interesting how the bay can be so alive one night and so quiet the next.
Val is playing Scrabble again.  Connor is working on an art project.  I'm blogging.  Life is good.
A few posts ago, I showed you the inside of the boat.  Here are a few pictures of the mechanical aspect of the boat.  As you can see, we have Volvo Penta twin diesel main engines each with 4 cylinders and 260 horse power.  We also have a Northern Lights 3 cylinder diesel 5kw generator for our 110 volt needs.  (We also have a 2,500 watt inverter to make 110 volts off the 12 volt batteries.)  Additionally, we have a 9.9 horse Yamaha kicker motor with a separate gas tank that sits in a cooler bolted to the swim step.  Finally, our dinghy is also powered by a 9.9 horse Yamaha engine.  So, we have redundant power and plenty of sources of energy (aka, a lot of bucks on fuel.)  At the helm, the Garmin is at the center of things and provides a 15” display with radar, gps, depth sounder/fish finder, fuel management, trip and route planning, etc.  It’s all touch screen.  Additionally, Volvo Penta provides lots of information through their GMI displays…one for each engine with multiple pages of displays.  It really is amazing all of the information that is available.  The Garmin, Volvo Penta information, and the VHF radio are all tied together (NMEA 2000) and provide a pretty complete system for managing the boat’s systems.

I hope your day was as wonderful as ours. It was truly a special day for us and we hope it was a special day for you as well.

Day 24- Wednesday, September 05, 2012- Fishing Barkley Sound

Day 24- Wednesday, September 05, 2012- Fishing Barkley Sound

Fog!  Dense fog.  By the time we woke, got out of our slip, bought fuel and started for the fishing grounds it was 8AM but for the best as the fog was pretty intense and we needed radar but we could tell the sun was out and working on burning it off.
At the fuel dock, I got to talking with the manager there.  Evidently, people “tip” him with fish but he’s not too crazy about having to deal with them.  For some reason, he was kind enough to offer me two nice brill fish.  I don’t even know what a brill is or even if I’m spelling it right.  It looks like a little halibut.  He explained that it’s a light flaky white meat and is even preferred over halibut.  So, off I go with another costly load of fuel (only $5.09 a gallon, yeah…it’s getting cheaper) and my two brill fish.  I tipped him with beef jerky.  We’re both happy.
We only ran off shore about five miles.  The swells were impressive and we’re getting thrown around a bit.  I do fine but Val and Connor struggle when things get wild.  Val fed the fish again but her unique baiting method worked as she caught a nice King Salmon shortly thereafter.  We didn’t stay out there too long as we were dragging the bottom for halibut and lost yet another downrigger set up and Val was greener than the lush forest so we high tailed it back into the inside protected waters.
As we rounded the lighthouse corner back into Ucluelet to spend another boat load of money at the fisheries store, the fog burned off and the warm sun lifted our spirits even higher.  We tied up the Pioneer Boatworks Fishing Supply dock, delivered the remaining balance on my credit card to them, and then re-tied my downrigger equipment while Val made the most wonderful fish tacos.  We showered on the boat, topped off the water tanks, picked up a few last minute groceries and set out for the wilderness again.  We much prefer a quiet cove as opposed to a marina, although we all liked the Ukee Dock.

Fish, fish, fish…that’s all my wife wants to do.  Thank you, Lord!  But, is there any limit?  We tried fishing as soon as we got out of Ucluelet...coho fishing, king fishing, halibut fishing, ling cod fishing, red snapper fishing…I can’t pry the rod n’ reel out of her hands!  I just want to sit on the back deck and read a book, but no, she just wants to fish, fish, fish!  I’m so glad she didn’t catch but one so I didn’t have to clean yet more fish!  (Seriously, I love it when she catches fish…I love eating them!)
Finally, very late in the afternoon, I convinced her that we should find a quiet cove and have a nice meal and a quiet night of no-fishing rest.  We through the hook down Refuge Island in Toqauart Bay and guess what she said next, “let’s take the dinghy over there and jig.”  I said “NO!”  I actually sat on the deck, basked in the warm sun, enjoyed an icy cold beer, and finished my book.  Alas, my idea of cruising!
All evening long, during my fish-strike sabbatical, during dinner, and even as I type, there are two whales feasting right beside us.  They are so close, their blow is wafting over the boat and they have bad breath!  It smells like a fish factory!  They sure are amazing creatures and we all exclaimed “whoa, did you see that?” repeatedly during the evening.  In addition to the whales, there were several seals and huge sea lion working the feeding grounds we seem to be anchored in.  There are little fish jumping all around…perhaps a hundred in the air at any given second…looks and sounds like boiling water.  Are the pilchards?  Herring?  I don’t know.  There are eagles making their unique sound in the tree tops and seagulls competing for the attention too.  This is a beautiful cove.  When we were here last year, we spent hours watching the bears on the beach and hope they show up at low tide.

Well, there you have it folks.  Have a great night.

Days 22 & 23-, Monday & Tuesday, September 3 &4- Ucluelet- It’s Good To Be Home???

Days 22 & 23-, Monday & Tuesday, September 3 &4- Ucluelet- It’s Good To Be Home???
A bit over a year ago, we spent a month in Barkley Sound.  We have many fond memories of this area.  After sleeping in Monday morning and having a leisurely lunch on board Dakota Roamer, we set off for the short nine mile run into Ulcuelet.  It was like coming back home.

Our slip for the next two days was in the small boat basin, next to the Canadian Princess Resort, which boasts a ship for its h.q.
Val started the laundry machines.  I dove into the Internet and cell phone.  Then we all went to the grocery store and hauled back a wheelbarrow full of goods.  Finally, a real supermarket with many flavors of Pringles!

The tuna fleet was coming into the marina as the big blow had begun offshore.  We’re glad to have a slip where it’s calm and protected and were thankful we made the run from Tofino when we did.  Reports were coming in that it was pretty bouncy out there.

We were all craving pizza so we walked back uptown, maybe a 10 minute walk, and filled our bellies.  We wandered around the seaside as the last of the light dwindled and found some neat little shops and an aquarium that we wanted to explore tomorrow.

It was a light day and I was ready for one.  It’s a lot of work to go boating.  I love to eat and don’t have much self-discipline but every time we go on an extended cruise, I eat all I can and still lose weight.  There’s always fun stuff, and not-so-fun stuff to do.  There’s always one more adventure to fit into the day.  It’s a great way to spend time but it’s a lot of work (er, fun) too.

Yesterday, Tuesday, we woke up to more tuna boats pouring in and rafting up together to squeeze everyone in.  I met Mark Wells, the captain of the Foremost.  I guess that would make him the Foremost Captain.  He’s different from the rest.  He’s not ruff and brash but a very nice family man.  His deck hand was equally nice.  I learned a lot about offshore fishing and got a tour of his boat.  I think I’d like to make a couple week offshore trip with these guys some time.  At the end of the day, we swapped some beef jerky for a 17 lb. flash frozen sushi grade tuna.  I was thrilled.
Then, it was off to the aquarium.  Along the walk, we came across the fish factory that was off-loading the tuna boats.  Connor and I stopped at the office and asked for a tour, but Ms. Personality rudely told us no way.  Just as well, too many adventures…not enough time. So, to the aquarium we went.  It had just opened and was done very nicely with all of the local fish species on display.  Val had to do everything in her power not to run back to the boat and grab her fishing pole.

The Wild Pacific Trail winds around the headlands of Tofino and what a great trail it was.  We spent several hours with our mouths hanging open from the drop dead gorgeous views…everyone of them was a calendar page and there were many, many very serious photographers capturing the views.  The warm sun and blue skies were competing with the wafts of fog blowing through.  Fortunately, the sun won as it typically does in the afternoon.  The swells smashing against the rocky coastline was thundering and very impressive…not a place you want to be in a boat!

After several miles of hiking, we were all pooped so Val whipped up a big bowl of wonderful spaghetti.  We indulged most of the night as Captain Mark and others popped in to chat.  It’s always great to visit with people on the docks (well, most people) and share big fish stories.  We slept pretty good but the fish bug was alive and well and we have an early morning planned.  So, I bid you all a good night.