Monday, 14 November 2011

FLASHBACK: Pelagia cruises to Haida Gwaii (Summer 2011)

new content added January 29, 2012...
See also photo set on Flickr

May - August, 2011
Our third trip north of Cape Caution and second to Haida Gwaii, this was our first major trip on Pelagia.

Some stats:
# days: 94                   Nautical miles: 1545 (244 sailed)
Furthest north: Kitkatla (approx 54 deg 48 min N; 130 deg 26 min W),  386 nm NW of Vancouver
Longest leg: 158 nm (Heater Hbr, Haida Gwaii to Clam Bay, Nigei Island)
Best sail: off Banks Island (mainland) to Skidegate Inlet (Haida Gwaii);   sailed 38 of 61 nm
Pelagia's route north and back

Weather: June/July: often cloudy; occasional rain (in Haida Gwaii, we had relatively good weather, often with sun, but cool temps); August: mostly sunny. Given Pelagia’s great setup, we expected a far more comfortable trip than our previous trips – it was! Friends downcoast in southern B.C. complained of the cold and rainy weather in June and July 2011 – well it was like this up north too (but this is the norm up north). The multiple heating systems on Pelagia sure helped!

Other boats? We’ve been up north before; nevertheless, we were still surprised at how few other pleasure boats go north of Cape Caution. For the most part, the anchorages were empty (or nearly empty) – except perhaps for those on the main inside route to Alaska (which we tended to avoid).  We were alone for approximately 50% of our nights up North; the other nights there were usually only 1-3 other boats. One could almost get lonely!

Anchorages? We’d forgotten how beautiful, how well-protected, and how plentiful are the anchorages up north. They were great! Favourite? Really hard to say as we enjoyed almost all.

Haida Gwaii? Our visit seemed better this year than it was back in 2002. Similar to 2002, we sailed across Hecate Strait to Skidegate Inlet (visiting Sandspit, but mostly staying at Queen Charlotte City -- a favourite). We shared a rental van (with Jay and Tony from SV Sapphire), and toured Graham Island, including Port Clements, Masset, North Beach (wow!) and the "blowhole" at Tow Hill in Naikoon Park.

Entering Gwaii Hanaas National Park was made easier by the new reservation system, as well as the Park staff providing an orientation session in Vancouver in May. The water buoys are still there (we again did not treat the water and had no issues) and most of the mooring buoys were still there (except those in Rose Harbour where they actually are most needed but where only one remains).  Dinner at Susan's in Rose Harbour was great. (To arrange dinner, call  "Old Squaw" on VHF Channel 6 -- note: Summer only) 

Compared to 2002, we noticed (and interacted with) many more officials in the Park, including Parks Canada, RCMP, Canadian Coast Guard and, of course, Haida Watchmen. All interactions were friendly and welcome -- it is great to see Gwaii Hanaas protected. 

[Although we do wish Parks Canada would "curtail" those private “Gwaii Hanaas-in-a-day” zodiac tours (Moresby Explorers), which roar in then out of anchorages. Kinda takes away from the wilderness feeling. Luckily, we only saw them in two anchorages.]  

Relaxing in pools on Hotsprings Island 

Haida mortuary poles at SGang Gwaay

A new experience: the anchor-engulfing kelp in Heater Harbour (Kunghit Island). We has read about "kelp machetes" carried by boats when cruising Chile –  now we know why! Three times we up-anchored/re-anchored in Heater Harbour and three times the anchor was loaded with (seemingly) hundreds of pounds of kelp (one time so much, the windlass struggled). Using a knife on the end of a pole, cutting it was simple – like cutting butter with a hot knife.

Heater Harbour: Kelp lurks below...

Animals? So many animals! Highlights were clearly: (i) many humpback whale sightings, including one where one surfaced 100 metres away, both of us heading for the same narrow passage between Orion Point (Kunghit Island, near Heater Hbr) and High Island  – although we quickly slowed to a near stop, happily “he” (?) turned around; (ii) Haida Gwaii black bears (very dark shiny black); (iii) marine life (plus deer and bear) in Dolomite (Burnaby) Narrows at very low tide (we went 2X, returning in order to be there at a +1’ low tide – well worth it and far better than in 2002). Of course, we saw a couple hundred bald eagles and, true to David’s fishing history, caught no salmon.

Haida Gwaii Black Bear in Dolomite Narrows

Conclusion: We loved our return visit to British Columbia's Mainland North Coast and the Haida Gwaii archipelago. First Nations' cultures, wilderness, safe anchorages, mountains, open ocean, and wildlife made for a great cruise. Too bad we didn't get a lot of actual sailing in.

Sailing south; last view of Haida Gwaii (Cape St. James on far left)

Black-footed Albatross

FYI: A map of our 2002 cruise to Haida Gwaii...

Our first trip north: 2002 cruise to Haida Gwaii

Monday, 10 October 2011

Thanksgiving weekend sail: Clam Bay (Gulf Islands)

October 7-10, 2011: 
Fall sailing means decent winds and empty anchorages.

Left VRC home dock (Vancouver) on Friday morning, motoring out to Point Grey bell buoy. Winds were accurately forecast to be NW 10-15 kn, giving us a great sail (averaging 7kn) the 20 nm from Point Grey across to Porlier Pass in the Gulf Islands. We arrived a bit early at the pass, which was ebbing about 2 knots -- no problem for us -- we shot through into the Gulf Islands.

Crossing Georgia Strait

Approaching Porlier Pass

We had hoped to meet up with friends over in the Gulf Islands, but they had to cancel. So we decided to spend the weekend at Clam Bay. We motored the few miles from Porlier Pass over to Clam Bay and dropped anchor. A favourite anchorage of ours, there was only one other boat anchored.  Ahhhh, the joys of off-season cruising! Although it always has room (it can easily hold 20-30 boats), Clam Bay is often pretty busy in the Summer. But not this Thanksgiving weekend -- never more than 4 boats anchored the whole weekend.

Clam Bay
Preedy Hbr (Thetis Is.) looking towards Vancouver Island
We had some great weather through to Sunday eve. We had planned to sail back Sunday before 20-30 kn SE winds forecasted for Monday, but the forecast changed to sunny with no wind Sunday, and SE 15-25 kn Monday. So, we opted to stay an extra night and get a good sail back Monday (albeit, in the rain). Sunday turned out to be a classic beautiful southwest BC Fall day -- sun!.

Monday proved boisterous (up to SE 23 kn with bouncy seas in Georgia Strait) and wet/rainy, but a good sail until the winds died at Pt. Grey.

Always a great weekend sail when we can sail across the strait there and back!
All in all, an excellent B.C. Fall sail!

Friday, 30 September 2011

What's in a name? Pelagia

Pelagia means "of the sea"; it comes from the Greek word “pelagos”, which means the “open sea”. It was, therefore, an appropriate name for women born on the Greek islands.

We pronounce Pelagia with a soft  <g> (i.e., /dʒ/), as in "Pe-la-gee-a"  
(In Greek,  pronunciation is Pe-la-yeé-a)

Pelagia is a wise and strong woman, ready to deal with the misfortunes of life. She is a capable and very intelligent woman, dependable but sort of introverted.

We agree!

Monday, 26 September 2011

Pelagia: Sceptre 41

Pelagia is a Sceptre 41 Pilothouse sloop/cutter, Hull #10 built in 1983 by Sceptre Yachts in Richmond, BC.

Bob Perry reviewed the Sceptre 41 in 1992:


Interested in Sceptre 41 specs? Click on the picture to the left.

LOA     41’0”
LWL     36’0”
Beam     12’8”
Draft     6’1”
Headroom     6’5”
Vertical Clearance     61’0”
Displacement            21,500 lbs.
Displacement/Length Ratio 201
Ballast (External Lead)      8,700 lbs.
Fuel Capacity    105 US Gal (397.4 litres)
Fresh Water Capacity    166 US Gal (628.8 litres)
Holding tank: 18 US Gal (68.1 litres)
Main Sail     306 Sq Ft.
100% Fore Triangle   468 Sq. Ft.
Sail Area    774 Sq. Ft.
Sail Area/Displacement Ratio        16.01
Theoretical Hull Speed    8 Knots
Provisional PHRF Rating     110
Designer      H. Driehuyzen

Sails: (as of Summer 2011)
Main (2011)
125% Furling Genoa (2011)
70% Furling Yankee (2011)  
Staysail (pre-2008; near-new condition)
Asymmetrical cruising chute (pre-2001; from 38' boat)

Engine Systems:
56-HP Yanmar Diesel Engine with 70-Amp Alternator

Heating & Hot Water Systems:
Dickinson "Antarctic" Diesel heater
Espar "Hydronic" with passive radiators throughout interiors
Engine-heated anti-freeze to heat exchanger for passive radiators

Dual-coil system in Dickinson diesel heater (heats up water in hot water tank)
Espar "Hydronic" with heat exchanger in hot water tank
Engine-heated anti-freeze to heat exchanger for heat exchanger in hot water tank
Electric (110 V) heater element in hot water tank 

Ground Tackle: (as of summer, 2011)

Primary: 25 kg Rocna, 300' 5/16th" G4 chain
Second: 44 lb CQR, 250' 1/2" rope rode (with ~20' 3/8th" chain)
"Stern": Fortress FX-23 (15 lb), ~200' 1/2" rope rode (with ~20' 5/16th" chain)

Electronics/Navigation: (as of November, 2011)

Tacktick wind/speed/depth
Stowe depth (backup)

Furuno NavNet2 1724 Colour Plotter/GPS/Radar with C-Map
3 backup GPS
Wagner S50 Autopilot
Uniden class D VHF with "wired" wireless WHAM4x mike



Some photos of Pelagia (from forward to aft)

Pelagia on the TravelLift

V-Berth/forward cabin
Forward cabin storage

Main salon
Port settee & inside steering


Inside steering

Nav Desk (starboard)

Quarter berth (starboard, aft of Nav Desk)

Galley (port)

View forward from cockpit
Pelagia's skeg-hung rudder

Pelagia on the TravelLift (stern)