Following the Sea To Home Port

IMG_3351I believe the human phrase by Henry David Thoreau is “never look back unless you are planning to go that way”. Well I’m looking back because I can’t stop thinking about all the pawsome adventures we’ve just had. Look at my face – I’m not happy.  Do we really have to go home? Yes somebody has to earn the big bucks to put fuel in the tanks so we can go again. And go again we will on the long weekend cruise to Bowen Island at the beginning of September, just three weeks from now, purr purr.

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Heading south on Malaspina strait to Welcome Pass.

Minstrel’s twin cat engines purred steadily along during the 6 1/2 hour cruise it takes to get back to Port Moody, and I catnapped for most of it. We started out in a pleasure-to-cruise-in fallowing sea for about 3 hours until we left the more protected corridor of Malaspina Strait called Welcome Pass, and continued into the noticeably bumpier following sea of the Georgia Strait.  In nautical terms, fallowing relatively means calm, inactive waters, and following is when the boat and any waves are going in the same direction. A following sea can be quite dangerous in high wind & waves, but these were small gentle rollers mixed in with busy afternoon boat-traffic waves …like from one of the BC Ferries that’s following behind us. Yikes – better get out of the way captain dad!

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BC Ferry following behind us near Howe Sound.

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Finally A Furiend in Garden Bay

IMG_3327After considerable scrutiny upon our arrival I was satisfied that the dock master had given us a suitable spot. A welcoming committee was waiting to help secure Minstrel to her starboard side dock assignment. The fleet had all returned and regrouped once again at Garden Bay Marina in Pender Harbour for the last two days of the cruise before heading home.

After we were plugged and settled in, human dad left to set out the crab traps. Meowee, crab! Now wouldn’t that be a special treat to end the cruise with.

IMG_3338IMG_3339Remember on day two when I was looking for a furiend in Garden Bay? Well guess who’s here? Tucker! Tucker likes kitties, and I like him, so I immediately jumped off the boat onto the dock to say hi to my old furiend. The teddy-bear faced bichon frise is getting along in years but is still very photogenic and has been featured in the squadron’s past three annual Pets and Wildlife calendars that human mom has printed. I’m in this years too, of course. I can show you the 2013 photos that have been uploaded to Flickr where you can meet some of my other squadron furiends. I’ve got to get the 2014 photos uploaded soon, which has been on my “to do” list since January. Does that list ever get done!

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Boat Graveyard in Gerrans Bay

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Coming into Gerrans Bay, Pender Harbour, BC

As we cruised into Gerrans Bay in Pender Harbour to visit the human’s cabin and their relatives, a disturbing sight caught my attention. For the last few years or so, there were two derelict boats anchored there. Now there are five more of these floating nightmares. What is going on here! The quiet little bay, that has managed to stay somewhat off the radar than the more popular anchorages in Pender Harbour, is turning into a marine graveyard.

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More derelict eyesores.

Of the 2 pre-existing derelicts, one has now sunk, and the other washed up on shore. When vessels sink or are abandoned in bays, harbours and shorelines, they can be an eyesore and a hazard to navigation.  At the same time, they can physically destroy sensitive marine and coastal habitats, sink or move during coastal storms, disperse oil and toxic chemicals still on board, become a source of marine debris and spread decrepit nets, fishing gear, and plastics that entangle and endanger marine life. To complicate matters further,  reviews and permits may be required to remove boats that have sat on the bottom for years, even decades, that may attract the growth of corals and other endangered species on them, or have been abandoned for more than 50 years with respect to historical preservation.

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Derelict vessel ashore.

Human mom tried her best to explain to me the complexities of having these vessels decommissioned and removed until I went cross-eyed. However, I was relieved to find out the humans are finally developing solutions to address the recent increase in numbers. The “do whatever it takes” attitude while understandable, doesn’t always pay especially if the vessel has lost any salvage value. Unlike automobiles, it can cost a lot of money to properly remove and dispose of a boat. Some owners, if they can be found at all, can’t or won’t pay for it although it is ultimately their responsibility. Slowly but shorely, the humans are sharing and implementing what they call “best practices” around the world to deal with these hazards, and to discourage any more from becoming one.

I’m pleased to announce that next month in September, my humans and other members of the Port Moody Power & Sail Squadron will be participating in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup within the harbour of Port Moody. The squadron also has a public facebook page dedicated to the awareness and discussion of environmental marine issues including derelict vessels.

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The tiny yellow family cabin.

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Bowers Away In Ballet Bay

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Meow at anchor in scenic Ballet Bay.

Ballet Bay at Nelson Island was our last anchorage of the cruise before we headed homeward. The shores are inhabited by human housing and our 5 vessel fleet was hard-pressed to find a good spot to raft-up that didn’t have an underwater (submarine) cable running through it. Last thing you want to have happen is the anchor getting caught on it. If you can’t free your anchor, then you might have to cut it loose. A bower is another name for an anchor carried on the bow of a boat.

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Anchor snagged on an underwater cable.

Actually 3 vessels in our fleet including Minstrel snagged an underwater cable while trying to retrieve our anchors. Even with beach signage or chart symbols displaying the international symbol of wavy line colored magenta or black trying to advise the location of cables, they can get out of position for many reasons. Luckily it was a thin television type of cable and fairly easy to bring to the surface to get un-snagged. However, boaters must be extremely careful  to not to break or cut cables, avoiding serious or even fatal injury if it whips free. Cables that carry very high voltage can prove lethal if they are cut. The tension weight of some cables can also affects the stability of smaller vessels with the risk  of sinking when attempting to raise them from the seabed. Damage to cables can cause serious disruption to communications affecting trade, international affairs, and safety at sea, or to some human’s favourite TV show.

IMG_3274Approximately 2.5kms north across Blind Channel on Musket Island was another geocache. Human mom didn’t have anymore pinback buttons to trade so she decided to use a youth sized t-shirt she had designed for a squadron initiative that said “I Got Caught Wearing My Lifejacket”. The geocache description said that the container had swag that was meant for boaters, and this seemed very fitting.  Both humans hopped into Jester the dinghy because this time human dad wanted to help find it. The location was breathtaking. At the top of a broad rock face was the marine park sign and the cache was easily found near it. Mom traded the t-shirt for a brand new fishing hook, but didn’t have a pen to sign the log book. Meowee, that makes 3 geocaches my trackable fish tag has visited on this cruise.

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Contents of “Musket Island Marine Cache” geocache.

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Looking Good in Grace Harbour

IMG_3244Grace Harbour is a beautiful anchorage, and offers shelter and protection from the wind and waves. The water temperature was a borderline 68 degrees F, but closer to the shore, the sun-baked rocks acted like a heater and made swimming and floating around them very enjoyable for the humans.

While human dad tried his luck fishing again,  human mom went and found the geocache which was just a short paddle by kayak across the bay. The location was close to the park information board and entrance to the trail that leads to a waterfall and lake. The humans had been here 3 summers ago and had a very refreshing shower in the falls.

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I want to go fishing!

When human dad returned from fishing, he had a very disappointing fish tale to tell about the big one that got away. A 25lb Spring Salmon that, just before human dad could get the net under, spat out the hook out at him, and swam away. If he had just let me go with him like I tried to do, I could have helped and maybe we’d be telling a very different tale today.

The other humans decided to dine at a popular restaurant called the Laughing Oyster, about a 20 minute dinghy ride south in the Malaspina Inlet. Oysters are very abundant in these waters but my humans don’t care for them so I have no idea if they are good or not.

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Contents of “Grace Land” geocache.

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Our Raft-up in Grace Harbour. Minstrel is on the left.

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Gauging the Sea Conditions

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GPS Motion X app for iPhone. Marina top left corner, waypoint marker for geocache in yellow.

There was no cellular service in Gorge Harbour but human mom checked before we arrived and knew there was a geocache in the area. The marina had a strict check out time so she only had about an hour to kayak over to the island, find it, and return before we had to leave. She had manually put the GPS coordinates into her iPhone Motion X app as a waypoint, and was able to navigate offline to the location. The GPS works without cellular service. Unfortunately she couldn’t find it because she forgot to write down the clues. She’s sure she would have found it if she had a bit more time because she was very close. She’ll try again next time.

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Gauging the weather conditions the old fashioned way.

As we left I checked the air and the sky to determine what kind of travel day we were going to have. Even humans used to rely on observation, patterns and folklore to avoid being caught off-guard by the elements before technology was around. This is how I do it. First I determine the direction of the wind on my whiskers. Easterly winds, which blow from the east, can indicate an approaching storm front; westerly winds mean good weather. Strong winds indicate high pressure differences, which can be a sign of advancing storm fronts. Then I take a deep whiff, close my eyes and smell the air. In a low pressure atmosphere, plants release gases, generating a smell like compost and indicating an upcoming rain. I also check for humidity. You can feel humidity, especially in your fur. If it’s curling up and getting frizzy, then the humidity is high, which tends to precede a heavy rain. Lastly I watch what the birds are doing. If they are flying high in the sky, there will probably be fair weather. Falling air pressure caused by an imminent storm causes discomfort in birds’ ears, so they fly low to alleviate it. Seagulls tend to stop flying and take refuge along the coast if a storm is coming. Birds get very quiet immediately before it rains. If you practice these methods you can become very attuned to reading the sky and air to gain the ability to predict the weather quite reliably. I was quite confident that the seas would be favourable as we headed East to Grace Harbour.

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Looking south on the Strait of Georgia heading east.

Just as I thought, the day turned out spectacular for the 3 1/2 hour cruise to Grace Harbour; a flat calm sea and a blazing sun. The humans got quite a bit browner after today, especially mom in her bikini. We met up and rafted with the 4 other squadron vessels that had left a short time ahead of us. Human dad headed off with his fishing gear again while human mom kept cool in the water with the other humans. Before long he was back with a couple more pink salmon. He’s my hero.

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Hanging around the fish cleaning table, watching the 2 freshly caught salmon get cleaned and filleted.

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Going to Gorge Harbour

IMG_3166The raft-up separated slightly this morning with 3 vessels heading to Princess Louisa Marine Provincial Park, and 5 heading west to Gorge Harbour; about a 3 hour cruise for Minstrel. The water was calm and a pleasure to boat through. The skies were showing patches of blue, and the temperature was maintaining it’s warmth. I’ve quite taken to sleeping now while we travel; it helps passes the time very comfortably.

Before I knew it Minstrel was tied up to the dock at Gorge Harbour Marina. The main dock sections were double wide and it felt like land. But before I knew it, I was tied up too. Mom read a sign further up the dock that advised guests that all dogs had to be on a leash while on the dock. So when human mom saw me wandering off the boat, she wasted no time in putting my harness and leash on me. Wait, I’m not a dog!

This place was rather uneventful for me. In the afternoon, the humans went swimming in the pool, then to the restaurant fur dinner with the other humans, so there was no opportunity fur catching a fish or some prawns today. I’ll just have to catch them in my dreams fur now.

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The Smells, Tastes, & Sounds of the Sea

IMG_3115IMG_3101I can just sit and smell the sea air all day. It smells so good. Yesterday human dad set out the prawn traps, and then got up super early this morning to bring them back. Meowee, a generous haul of about 150…I can almost smell them cooking now. Some we cook, but most we freeze. We have the luxury of being able to have a second freezer on board to preserve our catch to share with family & friends during the coming year.

IMG_3120Mom got me a little plate with fishies on it that I eat my share of the catch from…cute isn’t it! Fur some reason, everything tastes better when you eat from plates with little fishies on them. Do any of you have dishes with sea creatures on them?

Tonight is a special night because it’s the dinghy concert. An American boat named Pres du Soleil, an 80 ft Ocean Alexander, anchors in Prideaux Haven and the owner flies in a singer named Robin Landry and her band the Chicksie Dicks. It’s true, I’m not making it up. They setup the sound system on the back deck and invite everyone in the anchorage to come by dinghy or kayak or whatever, and listen to the music. This will be the 3rd annual event they’ve put on and it’s also a fund raiser for their ROTC by way of CD sales.

IMG_3123I didn’t get to go which was fine with me because we would be tied to many other dinghies and it might be a little scary for me with so many strangers around. Even though it poured rain, my humans kept dry under a big patio umbrella human dad rigged up on the dinghy. Unfortunately later that night, a huge wind storm came out of nowhere and blew the umbrella away.

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Strange Looking Red Snapper

IMG_3061As predicted, the weather was a bit overcast and drizzly. Human dad got his fill of fishing, human mom got to take me to the island, and since there are no geocaches in this anchorage we were done here and headed back to Prideaux Haven to see what the fleet has been up to.

Mom had some issues trying to get her photos off the iPhone onto her laptop because all of a sudden the laptop wouldn’t list her iPhone as a device. She had been using iTunes to copy her music and thinks she set something that required all transfers including photos to use it, but since she couldn’t seem to get iTunes to copy her photos to her laptop, she ended up removing it from her laptop and then her phone was accessible again using the USB cable. I’m glad she figured it out because I was feeling a little lazy this morning.

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Red Snapper (Creepy)

IMG_3076Back at the raft-up in Prideaux Haven that afternoon, one of the other humans had caught a Red Snapper. Boy is it ever strange looking and what the heck is that sticking out of his mouth…it’s tongue? No apparently that’s it’s stomach which happens when they rise to the surface of the water too fast from deep water, and the gases that are in the fishes blood, tissues or in their swim bladder expand faster than they can naturally be released and therefore forces the internal organs out of their bodies. Creepy. I shore hope it tastes better than it looks but I may never know because it’s not our fish even though human dad gets to fillet it. I’m not big on eating raw fish as much anymore and prefer it cooked, but I still enjoy watching him play with the fish.

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Good Sport in Squirrel Cove

IMG_3006IMG_3010They say the early bird catches the worm, well the early fisherman catches the fish, and my human dad caught three today! Pink salmon that is and I couldn’t be more tickled. Coming over to Squirrel Cove shore paid off. After he cleaned and  cut them into freezer size portions for us to enjoy later this year, he saved a big piece for tonight’s dinner. I told him not to put his fishing gear away because I wasn’t sure we had enough and he’d need to go fishing again, and he quite agreed with me.

IMG_2987Our next adventure was the little island that human mom wanted to take me back to that I had been on 2 years ago as a kitten. A small, no tree mound of rock and moss that every boater with a dog takes their dog too. It didn’t really bother me as a kitten, so why would the humans think it would bother me now. We got into Jester and left Minstrel, which was a little unnerving to say the least, and then circled the island to find the best spot to disembark. As soon as the bow touched, they lifted me up and over onto the island. Before I could determine if  I really wanted to be there or not, human mom sent dad back to Minstrel to get her special boat shoes which she forgot to bring, so there was no getting off the island any time soon.

IMG_3025I IMG_3023set about to explore, and climbed to the top of the island. I could see Minstrel anchored a short distance away. I think it would be safe to say that not many other, if any, kitties have been on this island before. Therefore, if you recall my prior post that involved a fire hydrant, it seemed just and sporting that I left my mark, on doggy-doo island as I’m now calling it, before I left it.

Tomorrow we are heading back to Prideaux Haven to join up with the squadron for the weekend. Unfortunately the clouds are pressing in again and the forecast is not looking good…more rain is a coming.

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