We’re cruisers and we’re used to being on the move. We go from place to place and meet different people along the way, and we’re forever saying “hello” and “goodbye”. We end up running into a surprisingly high percentage of people again, sometimes years later, and we love that. Winter is the one time of the year that we tend to sit still somewhere and because of that we tend to “grow some roots”. The more often we return to the same place, the deeper those roots can go. After spending 6 very happy winters in the Keys we had some very tough roots to cut, but the anticipation of new adventures in the Pacific Northwest took a little of the sting out of saying goodbye to dear friends and favorite places.
We’ve only been in Victoria for one winter, in a part of the country where we barely know anyone, but we found that it was hard to cut our fresh roots. For one thing, Victoria is a “sticky place” – it’s a place that’s just nice with lots to do and everything is convenient… so it’s easy to not-leave. But the harder thing is that we’re starting to make some friends out here – some boating, some knitting, and reconnecting with some from our previous lives.
The winter started out pretty lonely – there isn’t the kind of community of liveaboards on the docks that we’re used to on the east coast, and we barely even saw any neighbors much less got them to talk. Thankfully, I am a knitter, and I think it’s a universal truth that knitters like to gather and knit. I found the local knitting meet-up group and started attending the Tuesday and Friday evening knit nights. The first night I met another newcomer who also happened to be a boater and a liveaboard – how lucky is that?! And we hit it off and became great friends, often meeting for coffee and knitting on our own. After a while we got together for dinners with our spouses and it was great fun. Later on I got to know some of the other knitters and made particular friends with two more. Jim often came to Friday night knitting for a little while since we met at a cafe with good food and killer desserts. That solved the problem of what to feed Jim while I was off knitting, and he got to meet some of the gals and enjoy some conversation (and eat dessert – it’s all about the sweets). It’s much harder for guys to make friends, I think.
We’re very excited about our next adventures so that helped us make the difficult cut to those roots and cast off the lines. We’ll be back.
We headed out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca and had a nice view of the Olympic Mountains to the south.
It felt great to be at anchor again and we enjoyed a quiet day waiting for the winds in the Strait of Georgia to settle down. We were greeted by a rainbow that first morning…
…and we had a few curious surf scoters come by and check us out.
Before we can cast off for a long trip we need to finish a few maintenance items – we’ve learned that it’s much easier to perform preventative maintenance than to do repairs in some remote place. Some projects had to wait for warmer weather such as working on the davit (a small crane that lifts our 600 lb dinghy up to the boat deck).
We used our ladder to help hold the heavy arm up in the air so Jim could disconnect the hydraulic lines – it’s always good when we can manage things by ourselves.
We had to replace some spacers between the sheaves as well as the “cable”, which is actually a synthetic rope (called Amsteel) that’s as strong as a steel cable. The rope is a bit pricey ($2/foot) and it requires an eye to be spliced at each end, but I’m a pretty good splicer. If we ordered the prepared rope from the davit company it would have cost $450!The next project was to adjust the valves on the main engines – a job that should be done every 1000 hours or so. We put a lot of hours on our engines and it pays to take good care of them. It goes pretty quickly, though there are 12 valves on each engine to check. And while we were doing engine maintenance, Jim replaced the impellers that draw seawater through the heat exchangers to cool the engines. The old ones were in good shape, but they were getting too old…
In the meantime I’ve been giving the boat exterior a thorough washing and a bit of Awlcare. Cloudy/rainy days are the best for washing a black boat since the sun heats the hull too much and the soapy water can get baked on if I’m not quick enough with the rinse. Sometimes people ask us if we want a bigger boat and we always say no. A bigger boat is more boat to wash and clean… things are bigger than two people can handle easily… and you pay for dockage and haul-outs by the foot. This is plenty of boat for us to take care of!
On the other hand, if you have to wash your mega-yacht, you need to be comfortable with climbing gear and heights!
I have “itchy feet” – it’s what I say when we’ve been somewhere too long and it’s time to move on. We’ve been enjoying Victoria for the winter, but now our thoughts are focused on cruising north to Alaska.
Of course Victoria is much more lively and beautiful with the nice spring weather. There are two large sail training schooners that have been coming in once a week. We have a front row seat to watch the procession of high-school students (they look so young) coming off the boats after their week’s adventures, and to see the new load of youngsters trudging down the dock with their heavy duffel bags and pillows. That kind of experience is so wonderful for kids – they are away from the Internet and they can just focus on the world around them, working together to help sail their beautiful boat. Everyone should get the chance to do something like that, and to learn that one can live a week (or more!) without staring into the glow of a smartphone.
All winter we’ve been wedged behind a big trawler, blocking any kind of view out the back of the boat. We were facing the seawall and the endless parade of tourists taking pictures of the mega-yacht (search on “yacht Zenith” and you’ll see our neighbor), and Zenith blocked the view out the galley window. We could still see some of the sights out the windows, but not as much as we hoped. Well, our trawler neighbor left yesterday and we got permission to slide down the dock to the far end where we have a fantastic view of the inner harbour and Parliament – it’s a nice way to wrap up our time here.
We needed to make one last trip back to the U.S. so we drove across the southern part of Washington to visit our friends in Walla Walla (“So nice they named it twice!”). It was our first time in eastern WA, and it’s so VERY different from this side of the Cascades – it’s much flatter and drier, with softly rolling hills. Agriculture is big business here, with vast tracts of cherry and apple trees (the cherries were in bloom – so pretty!) and grapes for wine. There are big windmills on the hilltops, and verdant river valleys around the Columbia and Snake Rivers. It’s pretty, but in a drastically different way than the craggy mountains and tall evergreens on this side of the pass.
We had perfect spring weather, and we had a ball with our friends – just talking, learning more about the area, and walking around to see some of the sights. I didn’t get a photo of the pheasant male standing proud on the railroad tracks or the coyote patrolling the hills as we drove around, but it was neat to see so much that was just different. We hope to get back there to explore a bit more and spend time with our good friends. It’s hard to move to a new place where you don’t know anyone, so having friends out here – some new and some we mostly knew by correspondence – really means a lot.
We dropped our car off to summer storage and we took the Washington State ferry from Anacortes, winding through the San Juan Islands to Sidney, British Columbia – a gorgeous ride on a perfect sunny day. From there we just hopped a city bus to get back home to ADVENTURES in Victoria harbor. We have a few last chores to wrap up and then we can cast off the lines and start this year’s adventures.
Welcome to the new and improved ADVENTURES Blog and web site! We still have a lot of work to do to add in all the old Blogs in archive form, as well as photo galleries and other articles, but the 2013 Blog is now available with photos in archive form (reading in date order). There are a few little problems still hanging around as I continue to learn new tools, but we hope you like the new format.
We’ve been enjoying some warmer weather lately, and that means I can get to some of the outside chores that need attention. I was on the dock the other day and I watched this baby harbour seal zoom around and do loop-de-loops playing with a school of fish right near our boat. He stayed around long enough for me to get the camera and shoot some video. I’m still learning a new camera and this was my first attempt at shooting video with it – but the little guy was so cute, I had to share.
We’re seeing more seals, otters and even a big raccoon around the docks. Mergansers and cormorants fish nearby every day… the tulips are coming up, and the whale watching boats are busy every day of the week with tourists.
Not only is today the official First Day of Spring, but the season has already arrived here in Victoria (the warmest place in all of Canada in the winter). We’ve had temps in the 50s, and the cherry blossoms in town are already past their prime. The daffodils have been up, and the adorable little water taxis have reappeared in the harbor in front of the Empress Hotel.
Bob and Cathryn from Washington came up to Victoria on their boat for a few days, and we hosted a dinner party with them and our Victoria friends Diana (my knitting buddy) and Perry. We used to have a lot of these kinds of parties, but we don’t know as many people out here… yet. We did Roxy’s Ribs in the pressure cooker, and had a very fun visit!
The days are getting longer by about 3 and a half minutes per day – it’s very noticeable. To celebrate the arrival of spring, we headed over to the famous Butchart Gardens to see what’s in bloom this week. I was afraid that I missed the cherry blossoms, but was happy to learn that the Gardens are a couple of weeks behind downtown. We’ll go back in a week or two to see how things are coming along, but in the meantime we enjoyed the crocus…
…and the little daffodils…
…and the look of the Sunken Garden with just the earliest hints of spring. It should be fun watching the Gardens come alive.
The amazing thing at Butchart Gardens was their “Spring Preview” display, where they took over the entire restaurant, emptied it completely, and installed an elaborate indoor garden complete with stones, meandering pathways, a pond, and an explosion of spring flowers. Incredible!! The amount of work that went into that display was staggering – all to make something fleetingly beautiful. Lilies, orchids, rhododendron, hyacinth… I can’t name most of the flowers, but it just blew us away. I can’t wait to see what will be next.
As winter departs, I’ll share a funny Canadian story. While waiting in line at the hardware store, the cashier told a story about her friend in northern Manitoba who left her purse in her car overnight. The new Canadian money is made of plastic instead of paper, and apparently it doesn’t do well in extreme cold – she found that all the new bills broke in half when she tried to use them. You can’t make this stuff up.