Tuesday 19th October 2010
I'm delaying leaving Victoria - the weather forecast for the next five days shows a deepening Low system tracking in, giving very strong headwinds from the S in a couple of days' time, in conjunction with very light winds inshore over Wed & Thurs, making it difficult to exit from the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Frustrating since I'm totally ready to go.... but there's no point in beating my brains out, tacking madly in big seas and getting nowhere for several days right at the start of my journey, following on from problems sailing out of the Strait in the very light winds I'd be seeing.
So suddenly I'm able to relax, catch up on sleep and do a few less important but nonetheless useful jobs before getting away - maybe by Monday.
Tony Gooch is my official 'starter' and 'finisher' (on behalf of the World Sailing Speed Record Council) and he wired my gear cable the other day - I can use the engine in neutral or astern but not in forward gear, although in an emergency I can cut the wire if I need to. (I'm not going for a speed record but they are the people who 'validate' round the world nonstop attempts, solo or otherwise.) A little 'black box recorder' has been installed on board - my GPS position will be recorded every 300 m of my journey. This particular one was on board the 6.50m mini used recently by the Franco-Italian skipper, Alessandro Di Benedetto to complete a 268-day single-handed round the world voyage - so maybe it will bring me luck!
I've had welcome help over my stay here, since arriving on Friday 8th October from visiting friends near Gibson's Landing, at the entrance to Howe Sound, north of Vancouver, from people who have taken me shopping for provisioning and Glenn Wakefield has come by to help in a very practical way several times. We first 'met' over the radio in the S. Atlantic when he was attempting to sail from Victoria westabout nonstop in 'Kim Chow'. He was on his way towards the Falklands and Cape Horn as I was heading NW to St Helena from Namibia early in 2008 and we've stayed in contact since then. We've a lot in common, having both lost our boats in a circumnavigation attempt, and both trying again to succeed this time around - he's preparing a new boat (S&S 42 'Westwind II') for his re-attempt which he hopes to start in July next year....
I'm also getting a lot of friendly support from local people and visitors here in Victoria.
Quite apart from provisioning for 8-9 months, in readiness for my expected 7 months at sea, I can now turn off the solar panels' input, to avoid the RF noise the regulator generates, and a proper switch has been installed between the start battery and domestic bank, to avoid the use of 'jump leads' as I had to recently when I had charging problems from Cape Town to Hawaii. My hot-air diesel heater is now working again (it had a 'leaky' connection to the fuel tank so fuel drained back into the tank from the feed pipe when not in use), I've just received a replacement VHF handset for a faulty, corroded one and I've replaced the mainsheet which was chafed in two places. I serviced the final (big) winch on Sunday and today stowed the bow anchor in the cockpit locker. Since I've time in hand now, I'll be able to deal with the loose fixings holding my chart-plotter/radar display in place.... and maybe also organize boat paperwork/manuals/info more usefully. The boat is looking far more tidy now I'm ready for passagemaking.
It's been so very calm here that I took photos of the lovely nearby lit-up Parliament building reflected in the still marina waters - a beautiful effect!
I just hope that once this Low pressure system has passed by, I'll be able to get out and away before the next one comes in - normally very soon after. In the meantime, I'm really enjoying my tidy, well-organized boat, after all the mess resulting from the work done in Pt Townsend!
The old Empress Hotel faces the waterfront and marina where I'm berthed. I went inside on Wednesday - amazing! Worth spending more time exploring... The Bengal Room was fabulous, with Indian artefacts and interior design... ... All from the turn of the 19th century, by the look of itl.