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.  Hmmm...it 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

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