September has ended here in British Columbia where I'm spending time with friends, much of it with lovely 'Indian summer' weather. I was in San Francisco at the beginning of the month, and spent several days sorting out a few more of my salvaged possessions from 'Nereida' before flying to Vancouver and then on to Comox on Vancouver Island to join the Ocean Cruising Club's Desolation Sound Rally. I stayed on board 'Bagheera' with Andy & Liza Copeland, who were doing a splendid job of organizing the event - raft-ups of 21 boats with stern lines to wooded, granite shores were an amazing sight to behold in those waters!! All very sociable! I was able to enjoy a great sail on the first day, over to Cortes Island in good wind, followed by a couple of days gentle cruising to Teakerne Arm, Squirrel Cove and Tenedos Bay with a swim (!) in Cassel Lake (known by George Vancouver two hundred years ago) above the waterfall at the north end of Teakerne Arm. The second day out I spent on 'Polyandra' with Shaun & Penny Peck and Tony & Coryn Gooch - a crab pot was lowered in hope before we stopped overnight - but with no luck! I enjoyed meeting up again with several friends not seen since sailing on the East coast & the Caribbean a few years ago.
Regretfully, I had to leave the Rally too soon but felt I just had to get to the Southampton Boat Show -there were just too many outstanding issues to be dealt with for the new 'Nereida', now in mould in Sweden and due to be delivered next February - such a lot of different things to finalize and organize in not much time.... and the UK Boat Shows (both the Southampton one in September and the London one in January) are ideal places to see equipment and talk to people who know all about their products. I must admit to thoroughly enjoying having a float plane (an Otter) come out to pick me up from a dinghy early in the morning from Tenedos Bay to take me to Campbell River from where I was to fly to Vancouver and then on to Heathrow! Although part of the mainland, there was no other way to get to Vancouver from this anchorage other than by boat or float plane initially - it was almost worth it just for the view over Desolation Sound soon after sunrise, which was fabulous ....and a great way to see the shallows and tidal effects!!
I spent quite a time on board the new Najads at the Show clarifying a variety of points and also spent time on the Yanmar, Raymarine, Brunton and Reed's Almanac stands, among others. I have decided to try to avoid a secondary alternator on the engine, going for a large primary one instead (but carrying a complete spare!!) - it will need a bracket to be fabricated and will also need a second belt. I'm also hoping to simplify future engine oil changes with the simple addition of a flexible pipe to the sump at the base of the dipstick tube. David Sheppard of Brunton's is being very supportive in the supply of an Autoprop which I'm installing again - they are so very effective & efficient. Reed's are introducing an online version of their well-known Almanac which will be kept up-to-date and so will be very useful before passages - especially with a small printer on board, as I hope to have. They are hoping to extend this online coverage to the US and Caribbean Almanacs fairly soon.
I spent three productive days at the Show and then drove up to London for my flight back to Vancouver - with an unexpected stop for some urgent dental work just before my midday flight check in - I'm fortunate in having a good dentist as a son.... and I'm lucky my problem cropped up while I was still just in the UK!
Back in Vancouver, I made the final Dinner of the OCC Rally - held at the Royal Vancouver Y.C. overlooking English Bay with a lovely sunset outlook. Excellent food, amusing photos, ...a good evening ... and then over to Sidney on Vancouver Island the next morning, by ferry, to see several friends in the Victoria area. Barbara, VE7KLU, who is the Great Northern Boaters Net Control, kindly took care of me and we enjoyed catching up on our news face-to-face, rather than over the airwaves or on Skype!! I was delighted to be able to speak to Darlene, KL0YC, on the morning Net - I'd last seen her and Floyd in their remote bay near Dixon Entrance on my way south past Ketchikan in 2005 as they were preparing to 'hunker' down with sacks of flour etc for the Alaskan winter!!
I was also really pleased finally to meet up with Glenn Wakefield and his wife Marylou over dinner in Victoria one night. We'd tried to keep a daily radio 'sched' as we both sailed across the South Atlantic in February/March this year. He was on his circumnavigation non-stop westabout' (the 'difficult' way!), heading towards Cape Horn, in frequently bad conditions as he neared the Falklands where he finally had to give up after a couple of extra-nasty waves rolled & damaged 'Kim Chow'. I was on my way from Namibia to Trinidad, via St Helena and Fernando da Noronha, Brazil, in conditions that varied from flat calm Doldrums to 30knot squalls in good-sized seas - very easy compared with what he had been facing, even allowing for my enforced ten days of handsteering with autopilot failure! It's always interesting to meet someone face to face after you've spent time talking over the radio to them, never having met them previously, and there's often a long-lasting bond that exists between those of us who have met at sea, especially between singlehanders.... maybe because we have a mutual understanding of each other's problems.
I'm now trying to finish with a few outstanding boat items, notably trying to deal with the wiring of the new boat using tinned wire - so 'normal' in North America but surprisingly unusual in European boats. The best tinned wire is American, & so not in standard metric sizes, & it costs more than untinned, of course.
Another interesting item has been looking at the use of the new (energy-efficient) LED lighting - fairly straightforward down belowdecks, but the development of LED navigation lights has been a problem for manufacturers who have to make sure they are in line with Col Regs. My understanding is that it is difficult to get a good green light in particular and over time the light emission could well reduce - which in a permanent fixture (with no replaceable light bulbs) will be impossible to remedy without changing the entire fitting. Also, I hear that the diodes needed to stabilize the current to the LEDs (they don't like a varying current) can cause an overheating problem . As for the strobe light (NOT in Col Regs) I was hoping to put in place for the rare occasion I might feel it to be of use (also to be ready for 2010 SHTP Race, if I should do it) - strobes seem not to be being incorporated into the new masthead LED fittings because of their quite different current requirements.
The only other main item of interest has been the major problems I've had with Vista....!! I just spent hours trying to sort problems out, ending up re-formatting my hard-drive and having to reinstall everything... grrr!!! What a waste of time!! Bring back XP!!!