Lessons Learned

Cruising is all about problem solving, decision making and fine tuning. Here are some lessons learned and other things we need to remember. We’ll keep adding to this list.

1. Cruising is work. Sailing is sport rather than recreation. Therein lies the satisfaction. You use your mind and your muscles to move your home, which in turn carries you and all your stuff. It’s very different from camping, where you carry stuff and have to find or create shelter as you go along.

2. Cruising the BC coast means immersing yourself in one of the world’s great remaining wildernesses. It also means finding yourself in the midst two of the world’s great cities: Vancouver and Victoria.

3. North of Desolation Sound is really wild. Where once the area was inhabited with loggers, fishermen and miners and their camps were served by steamship lines, today it has largely returned to Nature. Old timber camps and fishing villages – some of them floating structures – function as “marinas” but with very limited services. 4. We need to learn to crab and fish. Groceries were hard to come by so rice and beans served us well. Other key staples were canned peas, corn, pears, pineapple, tuna, and sardines and dried apricots, ginger, raisin and nuts. Live foods like celery and carrots travel well: next time we’ll take lots. And before departure we’ll seed a planter of lettuce and strap it on deck between the galley and aft cabin hatches, where the lettuce will not be mowed down by the sails. The inspiration for this came from a big yacht from San Francisco.

5. We need to learn diesel maintenance. We motored much more than we thought we would. Partly it was summer weather, partly narrow channels and rapids, partly the wind patterns. Margo Wood says the idea boat for going north to Alaska is a trawler. But for the trip back south, a sailboat is best. So far we’ve concentrated on learning sailing, which is the essential skill in the strong winds of Port Townsend and Juan de Fuca. But the Inside Passage calls for self reliance in other skills. Fortunately Portland Community College has a very strong Diesel Services Technology program, with DS 9112 in Small Marine Diesel.

6. We note with appreciation bordering on awe five British Columbians who shared their mechanical skills or advice. All are natural teachers. In Vancouver we’ve noted Bob and Rick of Wright Mariner at 604.682.3788. At Lagoon Cove on Minstrel Island, it’s Bob; reach him on VHF 66A when you’re nearby. On South Pender Island, where cell phones sometime work, there’s Ross at 250-629.6988. And Mike in Sidney spent valuable time teaching us trouble shooting. Fortunately, there was no trouble and we didn’t go anywhere near Sidney. Mike refused our offer to pay but for the next perplexed mariner he’ll be there at 604.818.4357. 7. Things that are hard get easier. Sometimes you suddenly find an easier way to do something. For example I was able to stop swearing at the anchor after I figured out how to bring it in without jamming the chain. You run the windlass while counting off ten seconds; then you go below to the V berth to flake the chain in the locker, which is very good exercise, like doing deep lunges. We also learned that the teak panel in the aft cabin comes off to make changing the oil filter easier. We no longer have to lie on the bed and reach down into an impossible space with the filter wrench at an impossible angle.