Wednesday, July 23, 2014

"Home Again" at Homfray Lodge -- 7/22/2014

After a restful sleep last night in Gorge Harbour, we wake to the strong aroma of ribs getting well done in the slow cooker.  Best to cook while at the dock, not trusting to have calm seas every day while under way.

Skies are partly cloudy, rather than partly sunny, and winds in the harbour are 12 to 15 knots.  I visit the store up on the hill for last minute purchases, then visit with Steve and Tina, who dinghy over from their anchorage of American Pride nearby.  We make plans of where to meet in a couple of days.

We thank the harbour master for a pleasant venue on behalf of the Ranger Tug group and cast off at 10:45A. 

Most have left to scatter to a favorite marina or cove to tuck in and drop a hook for the night.

Ranger Tugs at the Fuel Dock

Skies are mostly sunny now as we approach the cut in the gorge and leave the beautiful Gorge Harbour.

Beauty again is found in the rock walls of the cut.

We have current on the nose, light chop and swells as we head to Sutil Point at the south end of Cortes Island.  A three footer now and then, not bad -- but then a few four footers.  

Woah!  What happened to all that flat calm we experienced all the way from Seattle?

With the chop still heavy, we watch intently for the sailing vessel to begin a tack across us; we will be ready to alter course.

All good;  she stays on course.

Did I mention it is rough?   Rough and bouncy.  Rough and bouncy!  We take on a few splashes over the bow, and the droplets are not seen in the photo because due to RainX, they simply slide on down.  I love a clear windshield.  Skipper alters course for a better ride.

Before long we are inside Hernando Island with fewer waves, protected from the fetch in the Strait of Georgia.  In Baker Passage we turn to port toward Sarah Point at the north end of Malaspina Peninsula.  It is calm enough for lunch now near Mink Island and I am starved!  Just in case -- I serve the ribs in a bowl instead of a plate.

The pointed mountain is on East Redonda Island, which forms the west side of Homfray Channel.

A sea plane lands over to the starboard near Prideaux Haven where there is no dock, but we never see anyone deplane or climb aboard.

When the Garmin tells us we are getting near our destination of Homfray Lodge, 
we begin searching the coastline, as we remember it is at Foster Point, and you must come around the point before it is in view.   There are quite a few guests at the dock and Scott directs us to the port side.  Herb spins around for a bow in starboard tie.

We soon meet the folks aboard the other boats as we take advantage of the bright green and blue Adirondack chairs.   Suzanne (third from left) and Richard bring back a ling cod today and she invites everyone to appetizers at Happy Hour.  Shown are Kent (Windy-I), Bill (Another Bill), Suzanne and Richard (Limelight), Jan (Another Bill) and Dave and Scott of Homfray.

I learn from Jan that she and Bill were in the boat business with Dave Livingston fifty years ago and watched Jeff grow up.  I bet she has some stories....

Scott, Marilee and Gary (Half and Half) and Herb (Willie's Tug).

With Kent is Carol (Windy-I).

Willie of Willie's Tug,
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
   Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Mystery Ladder Golf Player -- 7/21/2014

Our second day at Gorge Harbour, Cortes Island, begins as a work day -- laundry!  but the laundry room is a nice meeting place for friends also doing chores.  While waiting for the machines to complete their cycles, I deposit my recyclable items in the designated barrels and check out all the wonderful things I need or don't need from the store.  

Exciting start to the day!

A few boats leave for fishing and return to tell their stories.  There is much visiting on the docks with people coming and going, and hors' doeuvres being prepared for the late afternoon Happy Hour.  Port Boathouse Dave's specialty is shown below.  I have to sneak into the serving line to get a photo before its presentation is disturbed -- uh, oh -- one piece is already about to slide off the serving board.

Port Boathouse

At the evening gathering Jeff  wraps up the day, gives a few suggestions for boaters new to Desolation Sound.  Those who have been here a time or two are more than willing to share experiences and helpful hints.   Standing at the left in the photo is Butch, who is always hanging around the grill, lending a hand.

Chef Chris

Jeff introduces Marcia, who represents Volvo Penta, the engine in many of the Ranger Tugs.  She thanks us for coming and announces the dinner of grilled beef and/or chicken burgers.  There is lots of potato salad.  Lots of potato salad.

Sue and Stu have their plates ready for the tempting meal, whose aroma is floating out over the cliff.

Dinner is served!

Karen finds an efficient way to discuss plans of where to go.  A chart with great detail leaves no doubt.

As shadows lengthen, conversation continues for quite a while until the chilling breeze sends us all to our boats or to get sweaters.  

Ed, Jeanne, Christie, the Livingstons

The featured game for the evening is Ladder Golf. It is played with bolas, which are two golf balls connected with a nylon rope.    A ladder with bolas is shown in the photo with Karen.  Read about it at the link.  

Guess who is playing....

Love the Sox!
Willie of Willie's Tug,
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
   Monday, July 21, 2014

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Safely Across the Strait of Georgia in Calm Seas -- 7/20/2014

Those in the 8:00A start flotilla will need to gather outside the marina with enough fuel on board for the cruise across the Strait of Georgia, so Willie's Tug heads out at 7:25 to get in line at the fuel dock.  Because we are sandwiched in between two other Ranger Tugs, Herb kicks the stern out and spins in the fairway to drive out forward.  Ed and others untie our lines and give us a push away from the dock.  With the main VHF radio on our designated Channel 68 for Messmerized's flotilla, I put the hand held on 16 for safety information.

Jeff calls roll and I think there are ten in our group.  We get under way promptly at 8, heading out to cross the drying bar, when we see Endeavor taking a short cut not in the deepest water.  He explains that there is plenty of water, so after he is across in 6 feet, Jeff agrees that the others can follow his track.  Herb saw a 4.8 depth just briefly as we pass over.

We now head out to sea at 13 knots for crossing the Strait of Georgia; winds are light, seas calm, and the skies are partly sunny.  Messmerized calls on 68 to Endeavor, who is far ahead of us, for a report of the conditions he experiences.  Endeavor says, "As good as I have ever seen."  You can hear many exclaim, "Yea!  Way to go, Strait!"  Or maybe that was just me....

Although the Strait is wide, we can always see land on both sides.  Our route is an angle to the northeast for a destination of Gorge Harbour.  The BC Ferry, Queen of Burnaby, appears on our starboard and chart plotter suggests she will pass ahead of us.  We opt to change course to go astern of her just as she turns toward our stern to go behind us.  She is larger, so we hang back and let her keep her plotted course.

Dave on Heart of Gold radios Messmerized that he is able to maintain a lesser speed, so Willie's Tug calls that she will stay back also, and we are soon joined by Joan and Keith on Nit-Sea-Moose and Tia and Ken on Tuggernaught.  We cruise at a comfortable and fuel economical speed of 6 to 7 knots.

Seas are still really nice with only a few swells close together, which are mainly due to wakes.  Our target arrival at 11A becomes a bit early, as the boats checking out are late, so Gorge Marina asks us to slow our speed for a later arrival.  We take advantage of the extra time to circumnavigate Mitlenatch Island Nature Park to see wildlife in the bird sanctuary.  There are many white ones and one area of black birds.  A lone herron guards the rock.

How much better could this be?  The skies clear ahead and Ranger Gray reports seeing a whale, but no pod.  It is flat calm and sunny to the east.

Herb identifies a large vessel crossing the flotilla from starboard and reports to the group it is Atlas, approximately 100 ft in length, which moors at Cap Sante, Anacortes WA.  She is a beauty!

How many photos of the Q-20 Bell Buoy do I have from past years?  Marking the shallow area as we turn toward the gorge cut, the bell sounds a warning as it is tossed by the waves and the wind.

The Ranger Tugs arrive at the cut and slow down for no wake, once they are in the harbour.

How much MORE better can the day get?  We get a call from Frank and Dawn-Marie on Blue Horizon saying they see us on AIS and will meet us at Gorge Harbour.  Now as we get nearer, we see Keith and Kathy's Sand Dollar II going through the gorge cut.

We call the harbour master and slow to idle to wait our turn for a slip assignment.  As others are tied up, each boat follows in line.

At Happy Hour Jeff welcomes all of us and tells of the activities ahead.  Just to the left of him in the photo is Kate Livingston, daughter of the Ranger Tug Livingstons, who hands out brochures on posting photos on Instagram.  This will allow all of us to see each other's photos of the trip.

This is a great time of day when we meet new friends and share experiences.  Next to Joan and Keith are Marcy and Marc of Ranger Gray.  Across the table are Andy and Sari Dahl, whose Ranger Tug is named Dahlfun.  Don't you just love that boat name!  Sari tells me she read about our trip last year in Sea Magazine.

Games follow dinner, and this Corn Toss seems to be a favorite.  Now and then someone makes a 'hole in one.'  

Having fun here are Gloria, Andrew and Dillon.

Nice toss, Dillon.  His blue corn bag can be seen still in the air just to the right of Andrew's head. just may land in its target.   At one point I did observe John, the opponent next to him, with a shot straight through the hole!

As the evening comes to a close, we enjoy pleasant music from a local group.

And then it is Dr. Jake's bedtime.

Find Willie's Tug....

Willie of Willie's Tug,
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
   Sunday, July 20, 2014