Saturday, December 1, 2012

Alaska Pictures!!

I've finally uploaded some of our favorite pics from our time in Alaska this summer. You can check out all the fun here:

One of these days, I might attempt to tackle our pictures of the BC coast and Haida Gwaii! 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Around the Horn sure it hard to work full-time, and do anything else. We both come home zapped at the end of the day. It appears we're a little soft. I guess we need some time to build up our endurance.

While you're waiting for me to get enough energy to write a blog post, you might want to check this out. Our friend John, who we met in Majuro and visited in Alaska, has decided to sail a small, engineless boat around the Horn. You can read about it here: 

Fair winds JOHN!!

Molly II - going around the Horn

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What's In Your Ditch Bag??

Like most offshore sailors, we kept a ditch bag full of very important, life-saving necessities near the companionway exit when we were on a long passage. The common thinking is that if the snot really hits the fan, you can grab your ditch bag on your way to the life raft. Uh-huh.

Well, regardless of whether you'll have the time or the where-with-all to grab the bag, it's a good idea. And don't just think this only applies to those of us who live a watery existence. Back when we lived a land based life, we also kept an emergency plastic tub with a few essentials handy, just in case.

Since I’m unpacking the boat, I've brought home our ditch bag.'s what we put in our ditch bag. I'm curious to know what you put in yours. What are we missing??

We use a duffle bag with backpack straps to enable an easy exit and keep our hands free. Yep, we still drool over those fancy yellow bags that float and have perfectly sized partitions for all your 'stuff', but this was a better fit for our budget (ie: free). Everything is double-triple bagged in ziplocs.

Here's what's in it:
  • Fancy EPIRB (Emergency Beacon with GPS)
  • SPOT (another beacon to call for help, or let your friends know where you are)
  • binoculars
  • first aid kit, gauze, bandaids, slings, splint, tensors, suture kits, and ana pen etc.
  • seasickness meds and T3s
  • gps with batteries
  • signaling devices: strobe light, flash lights, laser light, glow sticks, whistles
  • gerber multi-tool
  • copies of passports and boat papers
  • waterproof notebook and pencil, playing cards
  • sunscreen and emergency blanket
  • sail repair thread (should have included a needle)
  • hazard kit (includes foil water pouches and some type of expired food 'product', toilet paper, garbage bags, and other stuff).

Some stuff that isn't in this picture, that we usually put in the bag for our big passages:
  • cash and passports
  • satellite phone
  • handheld vhf radio
  • hard drive with photo backups (yeah, I'm a photo-crazed fool)
  • sunglasses
  • a book
  • chocolate (most of it was eaten on our final days at sea...running out of chocolate is definitely an emergency situation aboard Renova).

We also had a second bag that was tied on that had our supply of flares. We kept a jug of water tied on deck, with a knife nearby to cut it loose. On our North Pacific passage, we put our wetsuits into a dry bag and left that near the exit also.

Friday, September 7, 2012

What We're Up To...

Well, I know what I haven't been up to...this blog. Nor have I sorted out the millions of photos from the last few weeks of our travels. Hmmm...maybe this weekend??  We'll see. But no promises...I know better than that!

What we have been doing - well, John's working. Building a massive addition onto a friend's house, and then reno-ing the original part of the house. Big project and he's so happy to be working.

Me? Not nearly so productive (financially speaking, that is). What I have been doing is a lot of laundry. Everything on the boat (stinky, moldy, yucky) and everything that we pull out of storage (stinky, dusty, yucky). That's been fun, but the weather has been super-fan-tabulous, so at least I can put most stuff outside to dry. Sorta like boat living.

What else? Well, I'm still looking for a job. I'm also trying to catch up with some friends and family. Cleaning the boat and bringing home duffel bag after duffel bag full of boat stuff. Fixing my recovering-from-being-left-in-storage car (with help from fix-it videos on YouTube). But mostly, what I've spent most of my time on is this: Still not finished. But to my faithful blog readers...maybe you'd take a look and give me some tips or feedback??

Monday, September 3, 2012

Home Sweet Home

It is good to be home.
The flags of all the places we visited on this voyage.

We're settling in. We're catching up with friends and family. We're learning about current events. We're doing heaps of laundy. We're texting.

It feels good. It feels right. In many ways, it's like we've never left! And yet, in other ways...we can't believe we're stepping away from this wonderful lifestyle...for now.

John starts work tomorrow. I'm still looking. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Last Night

This could be our last night.

It's weird to be going home. Finally. We're both excited and really looking
forward to being closer to friends and family. We're also really looking
forward to seeing our bank account move in a direction that is not so
depressing. And...oh, how we yearn for a real mattress. And a substantial
shower. And endless fresh veggies.

We've been blessed to be able to travel the Pacific. Meet amazing people.
See phenomenal places. Learn about resilient and wonderful cultures. Dig
deep into ourselves. Read. Swim. Fish. Frolic. Truly blessed. A trip of a

Monday, August 27, 2012

Old Posts...New Pictures

We've made a short stop in beautiful Pruth Bay...with FREE INTERNET!! Wahoo!!

In between walking these amazing beaches, and catching up with our friend Frank, who's working up here, I've updated the following posts with a few pictures. I'm not totally caught up yet. But soon...
Haida Gwaii - North Coast
Haida Gwaii - Skedans
Haida Gwaii - Tanu
Haida Gwaii - Windy Bay
Haida Gwaii - New Crew and Hot Springs

We're getting closer to home. We expect to be back in Campbell River in less than a week. Wow. We're shooting for a Friday or Saturday arrival. We're looking forward to it!

Also - We're almost out of sat phone minutes. So we're not checking emails on a daily basis at the moment. Sorry if we've been slow in responding to recent emails.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Crossing Hecate...again

Aug 24

Here we go again - crossing the notorious Hecate Strait. And once again, it
is glassy calm and we motor the entire way. We leave after dinner, and
decide to push all the way to Shearwater, arriving in early afternoon. We'd
passed by a couple popular fishing spots, and we resolved to return here and
fish in the next couple of days.

Our two days in Shearwater were a blur. I battled with a snail slow internet
connection. John did a few boat projects - changing oil and zincs, and
repairing the autopilot that quit on the way here.

As we were getting ready to head out...a familiar boat pulled into the
dock...the Great Dane! John's uncle!! What a coincidence! We decide to spend
another night on the dock and have a great time catching up over dinner with
George and Rose, who even agreed to suffer through a few of our trip photos.

But the cruising kitty is empty, and we need to get off this dock, so we
took off looking forward to exploring some areas of the central coast that
we didn't get to the last time we were up here in 2008. Only a week till we
need to be back in Campbell River - so we plan to make good use of our time
here and enjoy every last moment!

A Week in Gwaii Haanas

Aug 21

The southern portion of Moresby Island in Haida Gwaii is Gwaii Haanas, a
Haida Heritage Site, National Park Reserve, and National Marine Conservation
Area Reserve. We had a week to explore with my family. Of course, the first
thing we did when they arrived was head to the Hot Springs (Gandll K'in
Gwaay.yaay). We managed to spend most of the day frolicking in the springs,
testing each of the pools, and some of us even jumped between tide pools on
the beach and the adjacent hot pools. What heaven.

A big highlight was visiting SGang Gwaay on Anthony Island - an ancient
Haida village recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site. This site was
amazing with its many long house pits, standing corner posts, poles and
other remains. This site is in much better condition that the others we've
seen, as it was the last village on this island to be occupied on a
full-time basis. All 6 of us were enthralled by the site, snapping away on
our cameras madly, as Elsie toured us through the village and explained this
historic significance of the area. I feel privileged to be able to see this
site, before the landscape takes over and returns the area to it's natural

The remainder of the week was spend fishing, crabbing, and exploring. We
ventured through the exciting Burnaby Narrows, up Louscoone Inlet, down to
Cape St James, into sandy Woodruff Bay, and all around Kunghit Island. We
saw plenty of whales, a few porpoises, and oddly enough, we even saw a
SHARK! We caught a couple salmon, many rock fish, and some crabs along the
way. We ate like kings!

It all went by so quickly and a very short week later we were in Rose
Harbour awaiting the boat that would pick them up and return them to
Sandspit. What a week - full of sun, fish, crab, and lots of laughs!! Now it
really feels good to be coming home!

Snug as a Bug in a Rug

Aug 15

My family arrived for a week with us at Haida Gwaii. My Mum, Dad, sister Amy
and Strahan all showed up alongside Renova ferried to our location by a
local tour company. If only Mike and Tara were here, we would be complete.

If you've been on Renova, or been following the blog for a while, you're
probably scratching your head wondering where everyone would sleep. We too
puzzled over this difficulty. On paper, Renova has space to sleep 6, but we
use one of her bunks as our 'garage'. The "pull out" berth at the table has
food bins stashed behind, and behind the other settee are three large
windsurf sails. Not exactly four star accommodations. But my family are
pretty laid back so they arrived undeterred and toting sleeping bags and a

It turned out that we all slept very comfortable. Well, at least I didn't
hear any complaints! Amy and Strahan ventured to the beach and slept with
the bears and deer on a couple of nights. The remaining evenings, they made
use of the cockpit and set up a cozy nest outside. We were so lucky with the
weather, it didn't rain once. Amazing.

It's a common cruising adage that the perfect boat will seat 6 for drinks, 4
for dinner, and sleep 2. We've always thought that was a pretty good
description of Renova. But now we know her true capabilities. She can sleep
six snoring family members with no problems, provided that everyone is
offered complimentary earplugs. We've also learned that she can handle 11
good friends squeezed into the cockpit for cocktails. And just once, we had
8 people cuddled into the cockpit for a yummy birthday dinner. It's no
wonder we have a bad case of two-foot-itis!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Haida Gwaii - New Crew and Hot Springs

We were surprised to get a call on the radio one evening, with the news that
our crew was just around the corner! The company they had hired to drop them
off was re-scheduling some of their trips, and brought them a day early. We
had a nice evening catching up and planning where we would go tomorrow!

We spent our first day at Hot Springs Island. Amazing. One of our favourite
hot springs anywhere. There are three beautiful pools overlooking the ocean
- magical!

They Arrive!! HURRAY!

My idea of heaven.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Haida Gwaii - Windy Bay

We have a couple days to kill while we wait for our new crew to catch up to
us. We enjoyed visiting Windy Bay, where we wandered through old cedar and
spruce forests. This was the site of the huge protests against logging in
the 80's that led to the creation of this amazing National Park/Heritage
"Looking Around and Blinking House" was built at Windy Bay during the logging blockade of 1985 that led to the protection of the area and the creation of the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site.

Hundreds of pink salmon were preparing to make the arduous journey up the stream to spawn.
We saw lots of Culturally Modified Trees here...

And a HUGE western red cedar tree. Around 800 years old...or so.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Haida Gwaii - Tanu

Our next stop was at T'aanuu Llnagaay (Tanu) was also awesome. The Haida
Watchmen here, Helen and Sean, were welcoming and knowledgeable, and toured
us around this village site. Although there were no standing poles at this
site, many longhouse pits were visible and the entire site was covered with
lush green moss. Beautiful.

We also received word that my family would be joining us in a few days -
Mum, Dad, Amy and Strahan. The good little ship Renova is about to get a
little chaotic, and a lot of fun!! :O)
The longhouse corner post was still standing.

A longhouse of 6 beam construction.
This longhouse was painted by Emily Carr.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Haida Gwaii - Skedans

We left Sandspit following SV Piraeus over the bar and south along the coast of Moresby. After a beautiful sail south, we rafted to Pireaus in front of the ancient Haida village of Skedans or K'uuna Llnagaay.

Mary and Walter, the on-site Haida Watchmen, welcomed us on the beach, and
gave us a tour of the site. We were in awe at the old longhouse pits and
felt fortunate to see memorial poles, mortuary poles, and even house corner
posts. Their tour was excellent, and we were able to compare the current
artifacts with pictures taken in the early 1900s. Very cool.

Our hosts were quick to forgive John's comment about the tasty looking deer
on the beach (which turned out to be Mary's pet) and they were kind and
generous hosts, teaching us about this site and the Haida culture.

Mary was filleting a halibut when we arrived, and generously shared some
with Bill and his guests aboard Piraeus. He invited us to join them for
dinner, and we gladly pulled together some appies and chocolate cupcakes to
celebrate George's birthday aboard. What a feast we had!

We followed s/v Piraeus out of the inlet and over the bar.

Mary's 'tasty-looking' pet.

Mary filleting a nice halibut behind John

This is a horizontal memorial pole. Look closely at the pic below.

Yep - one and the same.

A memorial pole for an important member of the Eagle Clan - whose wealth and importance must have been great, as evidenced by the number of potlatch rings on the pole.

This pole is slowly returning to the earth, yet markings of a whale fin are still visible.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Haida Gwaii - Haida Heritage Centre

We really enjoyed our unplanned stop in Sandspit, Queen Charlotte and
Skidigate. We tied up to the new marina in Sandspit ($.75/ft) and enjoyed
wonderful hot showers. At Queen Charlotte, we tied to the public floats
($.60/ft), which didn't have showers, but we were able to poach an
occasional internet signal.

But our favourite part of our stop here was the Haida Heritage Centre.
Although recently built, they have amassed a wonderful collection of Haida
artefacts, and offer great cultural info and presentations. We wandered
through the exhibits, watched presentations on canoe building and Haida
dance and song, and ate the most wonderful seafood chowder in their café,
complete with herring roe on kelp and seaweed!

Their website is

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Haida Gwaii - North Coast

[I'm desperately behind on blogging about this amazing place. I'll try to
get back on track. Haida Gwaii is an amazing place...I look forward to being
able to add pictures to these posts.]

Finally...after an aborted attempt to reach Haida Gwaii 5 years ago, John
and I are now exploring the wonders of these islands. And we feel fortunate
- blessed - to have the opportunity to do so.

We planned to cross Hecate Strait from Prince Rupert, travel west along the
north coast, then turn south and travel the remote, and poorly charted, west
coast of these islands. We thoroughly enjoyed the North Coast. John
recognized these places from his teenage years as a commercial salmon
fisherman. We stayed at Refuge Cove, and tucked in amidst fishing boats on
Langara Island. As we pushed south on the west coast, we were fighting wind
and waves, and our speed of 2 knots wasn't going to cut it. We weren't going
to make a secure anchorage at this speed. So we made the decision to turn
around. Back to Refuge Cove. And the following day, we made the long trip
down the east coast of the islands to Sandspit.

Although we abandoned the dream of the west coast, we are still excited.
There are lots of great reasons to travel the east side: showers in
Sandspit(!), more ancient village sites to visit, heritage centre, shopping,
fuel opportunities, and so on. And... We could drop our crab traps right
outside the breakwater...California rolls galore!!

Alone at Refuge Cove, but not for long. We were soon joined by several fishing boats...and gifted with salmon and halibut!

This boat, the fish master at Queen Charlotte Lodge, came alongside to say hello, and drop off this...

A yummy lunch! 3 burgers, 4 subs, plus cookies and brownies! Then...he invited us aboard the DRIFTWOOD, their floating outpost for a visit!
We visited the ancient Haida village of Kiusta. This triple mortuary pole is very unusual.

Friday, August 3, 2012

John's Fishin'

August 1

I was pretty smug about my fishing success in Prince Rupert. Our host Marty
deserves the credit, but I still feel pretty good about it.

But today at Refuge Cove, John had some good fish luck too. He managed to
bring in a halibut and a coho. WITHOUT the use of a rod. The fish even came
cleaned and filleted. He's MR. CHATTY on the docks, and that's what happens.
I was happy to be able to offer up a few banana muffins in thanks for the
coho. The halibut was a gift from a fellow Campbell Riverite. I'll have to
keep a batch of cookie dough on hand, just in case he gets lucky again! for dinner!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Prince Rupert Photos

We sail by Marty and his crew as we enter Prince Rupert Harbour

The Magnificent Skeena River

My catch - minus the ling cod
Marty gives us a tour of the North Pacific Cannery

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Prince Rupert

We had a fabulous 5 days enjoying Prince Rupert. Last time we were there, we
met Marty and Mae as we limped into the harbour with a blown out rear engine
seal. We became instant friends and we were looking forward to returning and
visiting with them again.

Unfortunately, Mae was stuck in Kelowna with the flu, but Marty met us on
the docks, fed us dinner, invited us to a dock party, and offered us his
truck to allow us to get our errands done around town.

Marty even took us out for a day of fishing where I caught a halibut, a ling
cod, two pink salmon and a herring. All on the same rig. Amazing.

Another day, he took us on a sightseeing tour of the magnificent Skeena
River and the North Pacific Cannery. Very cool.

We had a great time and met lots of great people. We've now dragged
ourselves away, and we've got our sights set on the west coast of Haida

(Sadly, we did not have an internet connection at the docks, and we aren't
likely to have internet for some I'm not likely to upload photos
for a while).

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Prince of Wales

Here's a few pics from our trip down the west coast of Prince of Wales Island, Alaska.

Humpback whale in Sumner Strait

Entering Hole in the Wall

Faithful captain keeping watch in the rain

Tlevak Narrows

Totems in Klawock

Totems in Klawock

Sea Otter in Sea Otter Sound

Three bears playing in Waterfall

Humpback breaching (Blurry...but you get the idea)

Sunrise in Nichols Bay

Prince of Wales - West Coast

After leaving Port Protection, we made our way down the west coast of Prince
of Wales Island. We put in long days and the mileage ticked away. We had
been told that this part of Alaska does not see many pleasure boats, and it
is so true! Even our fabulous cruising guide is pretty slim on info in this
area. We've only seen one or two other pleasure cruising boats. There are a
few fishing lodges around here and we've seen several small aluminum fishing
charter boats. And several commercial fishing boats. The landscape is
stunning. Beautiful lush green slopes. Sadly, we're seeing more clear-cut
areas than previously...what a difference it makes. It would appear that our
previous explorations were in cruise ship territory, where those types of
practices are now discouraged.

Along this coast we've stopped at Hole in the Wall, Sarkar Cove, Klawock,
Dunbar Inlet, and hopefully tonight will be Nichols Bay. We've navigated
through several narrows - El Capitan Passage, Skookumchuck, Tonowek Narrows
(aka Little Skookum Chuck), Tlevak Narrows (aka The Skookum Chuck), and Dry
Pass. That's not a typo...three SkookumChucks. Awesome.

Today is the first day we could really sail. We tried motor-sailing on some
days, but it is usually with limited success. Winds have shifted to the
NorthWest, and we're expecting more of the same over the next couple days.
Should give us good and fast conditions for our passage of Dixon Entrance as
we set our sights on Prince Rupert. Finally, Renova is returning to CANADA!

Port Protection

July 19

Port Protection is a town of 60 people on the northern tip of Prince of
Wales Island. We'd met "Alaska John" in Majuro, and he told us about this
boardwalk town, and suggested we come visit him here. And so we did. Our
timing was great - Heather was also here - and we spent a couple of days
hanging out with them, meeting the friendly locals, feasting on yummy King
Salmon, wandering along the boardwalks, picking blueberries, and navigating
to Hole in the Wall. It was great to see them again, and hear about their
recent passage from Majuro to Hawaii (via Penryn Island).

We were sad to leave them...but we're behind schedule, and we need to keep

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

It's A Small World

We anchored for the night in Deception Cove, a small inlet at the south end
of Wrangell Narrows. We were reading when we heard the huge engines of a
large boat...very close by. When John popped his head out, he was shocked to
see the AQUILA. We met this boat in Samoa. It's a big Alaskan crab fishing
vessel that was doing rat eradication work for the US National Wildlife
Service in the outlying US Pacific islands. John was thrilled to get a tour
of the boat and chat about Alaskan hot spots while we were in Samoa.
So...imagine our surprise, seeing them here, a year later!

We hailed them on the radio, and Kale and Angie invited us for breakfast the
next morning. What a treat. Smoked salmon and havarti omelettes with fruit
salad. Wow. We showed them some of our pics since we met them in Samoa and
heard about their work in the South Pacific, and their current work - they
have a crew of NOAA marine mammal biologists aboard. Their son Tanner is
keeping a blog... We can't wait to get internet -
I'm sure it would be fascinating reading!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


We stopped in "Alaska's Little Norway" for the night and really liked this
community - everyone was super friendly. Apparently, just over 3000 people
live here and we were told it was the wealthiest fishing community in
Alaska...that would definitely explain the big, beautiful homes we saw on
the way into the harbour. We took advantage of the laundry, showers,
grocery, seafood store, hardware store, and propane, before we headed out
again the next day, in time for slack tide in Wrangell Narrows.

We're on our way to Port Protection at the North end of Prince of Wales
Island. Home to "Alaska John" whom we met in Majuro. He and Heather are
cruising around here somewhere, and we can't wait to catch up with them and
share stories.

As we were untying from the Petersburg dock, we met a couple who had started
their cruising life many years ago in Majuro. It was fun to compare notes
and hear of their adventures...most noteworthy for us included being
attacked by pirates in the Gulf of Aden (they shot three of the pirates, and
their buddy boat rammed them)! Unfortunately, their boat was destroyed in
the Baltic Sea when they were hit by a 400+ ft ferry. Yet, they are still
cruising...albeit now in the comfort of a dreamy trawler. Amazing stories -
we wish we could have spent more time chatting with them.

Sunday, July 15, 2012


I've returned from a sad, but wonderful, visit with friends and family in
Vancouver and Kamloops. We've now left Juneau, and are working our way
South. Our destination changes every day, but we'll let you know when we get

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Arrival in Juneau

We've arrived in Juneau! We were hoping to have internet here at the dock,
to upload a few pics of our recent travels, but no luck. Yet.

The blog will be quieter this week, as I make a trip back home to be with my
family. Sadly, my grandfather passed away last week - one of our worst fears
as we have cruised in remote locations in recent years. I'm so grateful that
we have on board communications and that we're in a part of the world where
I could make travel arrangements.

John will stay with the boat in Juneau and take care of a few boat projects.

UPDATE: managed to get a few pics of Glacier Bay, Elfin Cove and Pelican onto the blog. Enjoy. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Glacier Bay

What an amazing place. We were able to get a four day permit to visit this
National Park and UN Biosphere Reserve. We weren't planning to come here,
but we're glad we did. Our first day, we were able to see orca, humpbacks,
sea lions, sea otters, and a moose! And it was sunny!

Here's some fast Glacier Bay facts:
- The Park is over 3 million acres - the size of Connecticut
- Last night, the tide went from 18ft to -5ft.
- 250 years ago, there was no Glacier Bay - it was all ice.
- Glaciers have now receded 60 miles to the head of the bay.
- Most glacier here are receding, except two (one growing/one stable).
- 2 cruise ships, 3 tour boats, 6 charter boats, and 25 private vessels are permitted in the park each day.

Here's a few snaps...


Sea Otters were EVERYWHERE...and crabs were not

This guy was near the visitor centre!

Brrr...a chilly Alaskan day

Hanging with the bergs - an amazing way to spend one's birthday!!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Elfin Cove

This was a community where we felt at home! After tying up to the (free)
dock, we wandered around this picturesque boardwalk community.
the walk to the grocery store
 As is our pattern, we checked out the local pub, and found the beers and fries to be
very tasty, and the locals were friendly and chatty.

The Elfin Cove Lodge
I needed to make some unplanned travel arrangements, so I asked the Elfin
Cove Lodge at the top of the dock if I might use their wifi. Donna, the new
owner, was so happy to help and she offered me a comfy seat in the lounge,
drinks from the fridge, the use of their hot tub, and even offered her car
when we get to Juneau. It is a beautiful lodge in a stunning location and if
you are contemplating an Alaska fishing trip, you should check it out: