Our first ‘this doesn’t happen to everyone’ moment stranded in Nanaimo

Our first ‘this doesn’t happen to everyone’ moment stranded in Nanaimo

 Setting sail

Combining both the fact we really have no clue about how the current is truly affected in the river by the tide and the fact that we may have been a bit over zealous, our exit from our stupidly challenging slip was far from graceful.  Let’s just say, the embankment between the dock and the land it always closer and shallower than we anticipate.  But flying out of there like a bat-out-of-hell with a few ‘tink tinks’ in the mud, narrowly miss the loading barge, we were off headed for a romantic getaway to Hornby Island to scope bike trails and relax in hopes of making up for our stressful end to our last attempt.

We cruised out the river in record time, with great weather and even a friend to send us off. 

The winds were in our favour (part of the reason we were headed north) so as soon as we were out of the mouth of the river, safe from danger, we decide to throw the sails up. Ben takes the boat out of gear and Heather takes to the sails. Wind catches the sails beautifully but as many sunny days in the northwest would have it, the wind was quite mild and Ben goes to throttle to motor sail when we realize we have no propulsion! The engine sounded good and rev’ed normal, there were just no bubble coming out the back.  Puzzled we phone cult-leader Mark and question the likelihood that our propeller would fall off after motoring out the river and it was agreed it was very unlikely but a possibility.  Decision time, there is no way we could sail into a marina so we are going to need a tow regardless so do we just call one now before we get too far and take it to Stevenston if possible, or do we try to sail as close to Nanaimo as we can and get a tow from there.  We decided we should just enjoy the sail up to Nanaimo. Heather calls a tow and asks if they can pick up in 2-3 hours outside Nanaimo. 

The tug boat guys hook us up and we cruise into Nanaimo, delayed by having to wait for the tied which would continue to plague us throughout the week, we finally make it to the haul out dock at 6pm having to wait for the morning to get out of the water. Of course the marina is pretty slammed we were scheduled to get hauled out the next day (Thursday) before the tide is too low. Just with our luck, our turn comes and the marina crew go to throw our boat in the sling and yep, tide was too low so yet another day lost to the wind.  We get slingshotted across to a deeper dock.

We finally get hauled out Friday before the long weekend and low-and-behold, I’m no expert boat mechanic but I think I have a pretty solid guess about what our problem is…

So lesson number XXX was a rude awakening, ordering a boat part, is not like ordering a car part. You cannot just walk in, tell them your engine and boat year, make, model and have a correct part handed to you.  The pitch and diameter of propeller is based on MANY factors including length of your vessel, beam at the waterline, vehicle weight displacement, horsepower of your engine, max RPM, just to name a few. If you’re interested we used this calculator from Vicprop. So after some head scratching and frustration, we had a solid guess what prop we should order and low-and-behold, none to be found on the island…or on the mainland…or really anywhere close.  The Stone’s Marina staff were super nice as very willing to help but due to the long weekend and it being a Friday, even with two-day airing our prop, we were stuck in Nanaimo until the following Thursday! So cheers, our vacation just turned into life on the hard.

Not quite at romantic as anchored out in a desolate cove with the sunset but tried to make the best of it.

A week on the hard in Nanaimo with no trail bikes called for us to get creative so despite the fact it hadn’t been too long since the hull had last been painted, we decided to get dirty and kill two birds with one stone (what a terrible analogy). I have to say, Ben did 90% of the work and 99% of the REALLY cruddy work while I worked on my thesis so can’t thank him enough for that!

For some crazy reason I (Heather) thought it was a good opportunity and that I was smart enough to change the screen on my recently smashed iphone…

I was wrong…epic fail so now I have no phone, oops!

So the saving grace that turned our shit luck into a pretty awesome week was we met Pete on Mazu! The cult leader Mark sent his recently retired friend Pete over to come find us day one and pretty much we had a beer or six with Pete every night.  What can I say about Pete? He’s a pretty amazing person with stories to entertain you for a lifetime.

He taught us many lessons about the boating world…boga, patching holes on dinghy’s, fixing water pumps we’ll never have, the convenience of having a shop on board (another thing we’ll never have), balancing beers on Jake, ya know, all the important life lessons.

After one last hiccup when we found out when your order a prop, you may not get all the pieces you need and have to wait another day to get a $107 washer, we were finally headed back into the water!

We couldn’t leave without motoring by Mazu…

Saying goodbye to Pete and Mazu! We are super fortunate to now know Pete and we hope our boats will cross paths again in the near future, most likely in some crazy part of the world on some remote island.

 Leaving Nanaimo…finally!

Luckily our first experience pumping out our holding tank did not end in a disaster.

And then we were off! It was Friday afternoon and we were on a tight schedule to make it back to our home marina so I could be on a plane Sunday morning at 7am to go to Toronto for the 2017 Chemistry Conference. But Friday afternoon was too late to make it all the way home so we decided to at least get one night on anchor.

Motoring through Dodd Narrows.

Finally got our romantic dinner in a desolate cove, yum!

Beautiful night of star gazing with minimal light pollution.

Couldn’t leave without a bit of exploration on De Courcy island.

Finding the booty at Pirate’s Cove.

Island exploration was short, sweet, but well needed. Then we set off in the morning with words from the wise to travel cautiously and timely through Gabriola Pass…

Once again Lesson Two came to haunt us, never underestimate the current.  We found out pretty quickly where stories of the Loch Ness Monster came from when we were just traveling straight with sails down when all of a sudden we were pinned sideways at full throttle and drifting backwards towards rocks. So we aborted mission and wained for the current to slow further.

After several loops and watching all the power boats blast through, we deem the current speed manageable and we pushed through.  Try two was a success.

And we even got the sails up on the way home. Pretty relieved when we finally entered the mouth of the Fraser River.  Our last battle was to fight the run off that slowed our entrance to a hot 1.8 knots for a fair amount of the way. Slow and steady, we made it home, and even in time for a shower…just barely.