Thursday, 16 July 2020

Fluenta Featured in July Pacific Yachting

Shortly after our arrival back in Canada, we attended the annual gathering of the Ocean Cruising Club in Victoria where we met Marianne Scott.  Not only is Marianne an accomplished off-shore sailor, but she has written for dozens of magazines in Canada, the U.S., Australia and Great Britain, and has published numerous books on an amazing variety of topics.  She asked if she could interview us for her regular column, and we were honoured to agree. 

She visited us at the marina as the COVID restrictions were beginning to ease - at an appropriate distance outdoors under the marina tent - for the interview, and she somehow managed to collate our five somewhat random inputs into the well-written story below.

The article appears in the July 2020 Pacific Yachting .

Saturday, 13 June 2020

Fluenta in Prince Rupert - Back in Canada !

Eventually the weather looked good enough and we departed Ketchikan for Prince Rupert. Especially this late in the season, there is not enough daylight to do the trip in one day so we stopped at Port Tongass for the night.  Port Tongass ironically is not a port and not really even a good anchorage outside of settled weather but it was a place to stop for the night.  We zoomed across Chatham Sounds soon enough where we tied up at the Prince Rupert Rowing and Yacht Club (PRRYC) and were efficiently cleared through Canadian Customs.  It was a bit surreal that we were back in Canada.
The Manager of the  PRRYC, Kevin, has to win the prize for the most helpful Yacht Club manager ever.  He was great help as we made some repairs and planned our trip to Haida Gwaii.  Top of the repair list was to replace the leaking exhaust elbow and some of the exhaust hose as well as getting the heater going again now that we had the required parts.  I also managed to renew my well expired BC drivers license before the cut-off for renewals or I would have had to redo the driving tests. 

We always advise people heading out cruising that one of the costs of cruising is the requirement to be constantly vigilant.  Being tied up to a marina we had relaxed a bit but were then surprised to see that storm force winds were forecast for our area.  Our position on the dock was not ideal so we moved the boat as the winds were building into the 20 kt range.  The barometer dropped about 14mb in 13 hours before it shot up in even less time.  At one point the barometric pressure was rising at 5mb/hr. The pilot boat reported gusts into the 70 kt range.  We were pretty exposed and were taking significant waves on the beam that were trying hard to put Fluenta onto the dock. It was fun night - yes these things always happen at night - trying to keep the fenders in position.  Our crazy Argentinian neighbour was even more exposed and I spent some time trying to help him but after a few hours we realised it was rather futile to keep fenders between his hull and the dock.  Thankfully his aluminum boat managed without our help (as a side note the Argentinian, Pablo, lost his previous boat in the North West Passage the year before -

A fishing boat disappears behind the swells as we approach Chatham Sound.

Oh, it is going to get windy.

First it dropped 13 mb in 12 hours - which in itself would lead to a lot of wind - but then it came back up twice as fast.  At one point it was rising 5mb/hr.  0130 in the morning ... of course ...

Hosting Pablo onboard Fluenta.  He was successful on his second attempt at crossing the North West Passage after having his boat crushed by the ice is his first attempt the year before.  More on that here: and

Oh.  The exhaust elbow is well past needing replacement.  I did have a temporary repair on it that is not shown in this photo.

Thursday, 11 June 2020

Last Stop in Alaska - Ketchikan

This was the view for most of the trip to Ketchikan.  Motoring straight into wind and sea ...  Grey and wet.

After our delightful visit with Denali Rose we were back in delivery mode to keep pushing south.  By this time it is late October and a few miles to go until Victoria.

We stopped in Ketchikan for a few days to catch up on maintenance and logistics, to celebrate a birthday, and to wait for less worse weather to push on to Canada.

Cruising is easier now that we have capable teenagers.

And a birthday for our capable teenager Johnathan.

Up the mast to install our new wind sensor (damn eagles).

Helping a new cruiser do some planning.

Last chance to top on cheaper American diesel.  A pod of whales swam by as we were fueling.  Rather distracting.

Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Meeting up with more friendly Alaskans - SV Denali Rose

Donna and Benjamin comparing notes on their devices.
When we started planning our return to Canada via Alaska we realised that much our time would be in "delivery mode" rather than dawdling enjoying ourselves in one place.  Out of all the amazing places we could stop we decided that we would budget some time to spend several weeks exploring Prince Williams Sound (PWS).  All our research kept pointing to resources that were no longer in print.  Bill on SV Denali Rose helps many folks on-line with a wide variety of boating topics and has extensive experience operating in PWS so I reached out to him while we were still in the Marshall Islands.  Bill had lots of good advice for us and even loaned us a bunch of "rare as rocking horse excrement" resource material.

We could of course mailed the loaned material back to him but it would be a lot more fun to return it in person.  As we were making our way through SE Alaska Bill and Donna suggested that they leave their Wrangall base in their lovely SV Denali Rose to intercept our southerly track.  They picked Red Bay as a place to meet and, conveniently, wait for some unpleasant weather to pass by.  To help us get there he also sent us a GPX track to help us get through the narrow (and aptly named) Rocky Pass.  The US Coastal Pilot describes it as "a narrow, intricate passage about 18 nm long ...  parts are very foul ..."  Other blogs describe it as "Rocky Pass is a narrow, shallow and rock infested passage way" but with Bill's guidance and a bit of planning it was fine.

We made it safety through Rocky Pass and spent an enjoyable two days with Bill and Donna and even remembered to return the books.  I also took the time to overhaul our uncooperative Espar diesel heater under Bill's tutelage in a hope it would work again (the heater not Bill).

Lots of kelp heading through Rocky Pass

Drinks on Denali Rose ...

Followed by the next night by drinks on Fluenta.  Note it is 6C outside.  Getting colder but not bad for mid October.

SV Denali Rose in the distance.  It was forecast to be a gale so we have 10:1 scope in mud with our big Rocna anchor.  Pretty confident we were not going to drag.

Trying to fix the heater.  No luck as I needed parts which I had shipped to Prince Rupert.

Overview chart from Warm Springs Bay to Red Bay.  Point 1 is Devil's Elbow and Point 2 is Red Bay

Larger scale view of Devil's Elbow in Rocky Pass.

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Fluenta in the Lookout Newspaper

The newspaper "Lookout" from the local naval base, CFB Esquimalt, interviewed us a few weeks ago interested in how we adapted from our military careers.  The article copied is below and the issue is here.  I really like how they used the photos.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Fluenta and crew in the news

Roxanne Egan-Elliot, the Time Colonist journalist, who interviewed us last Autumn in Alaska asked if she could do a follow up interview with us from the perspective of how we adjusted to returning to Canada and how our experience during the pandemic relates to our experiences traveling by sailboat.

The article is here:

 The original article from October is here:

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Hot Springs in Warm Springs Bay

Warm Springs Bay with its 100 ft waterfall
By October it was more than late enough to be getting further south.  There was a bit of a break in the weather so we headed towards Warm Spring Bay on Baranof Island.  We have certainly seen lots of whales and dolphins in Alaska, but we were surprised to see two deer crossing a strait as we headed south.  We were also surprised just after sunrise to not just see a log in the water but a whole massive tree with roots and all.  Liz managed to see it in time and maneuver around it.  After this experience, we decided to stick to daylight passages for inshore waters!

Deer crossing.
Apparently Warm Springs Bay is ridiculously busy in the summer - not our kind of place - but it sounded more interesting out of season and it was about as far south as we could get before the weather got nasty.  We arrived in the early morning and found plenty of space on the free and well-maintained dock (there is a fee in-season).  By the end of the next day there were just two yachts but more interestingly there were fishermen avoiding the weather and two boats for the winter caretakers for the village and lodge - all interesting people to get to the know.  The caretakers for the village were possibly too "interesting" and were fired the following week (we actually got an e-mail asking if we would turn around and care-take the village for the winter) but the other couple were absolutely delightful.  We wish we could have spent more time with them: Dave and Anke of SV WAYWARD.  They travel around Alaska in the sail- and oar-powered boat (no engine) David and Anke designed and built, and they are very productive foraging from the land and sea.  We enjoyed their fruit wine and pickled bull kelp.  If you are interested in their travels and their designs you can look here and here.  The fishermen are of course always great folks to be around and as usual we were given fish by the generous fishermen.

Entering Warm Springs Bay in the early morning

Of course, the main attraction of Warm Springs Bay are the hot springs.  There are natural hot springs about 15 minutes walk away.  One of the pools is right beside the raging river which is really nice.  Also, in the village - really more of a collection of summer homes - there is a building with "by donation" single rooms with massive tubs fed by very hot or cold spring water and an open air view over the bay.  Amazing.

Hanging out with fishing boats.

Halibut !

David and Anke's cool SV Wayward

Heading off to the hot springs.  Pretty luxurious hiking with the boardwalk.

Hot springs !

Hot springs by the river.

Family photo by the waterfall.  Rather a damp week.

One of the awesome tubs with a view. (From

The red arrow points to Warm Springs Bay

Warm Springs Bay