Here is an update on what we've been up to on the "Stornoway"...
By John and Lucy Volc
(Submitted 2/99)

On August 2nd my cousins and their son came on board and we headed North. We stopped at Secret Cove, got hit by a squall in Malaspina Straight on the way to Lund, and finally made it up to Desolation Sound. We spent a great day in Roscoe Bay - the water temperature was 21 degrees (celcius)!!! From there we went farther North to Big Bay, just north of Yaculta Narrows. This was a busy place - lots of power boats banging into docks while trying to dock with a 1 knot current swirling through the bay. The next morning we topped our water tanks and headed off through "Hole-in-the-Wall", past Chatham Point and into Johnstone Straight. We had been enjoying terrific weather for the whole trip (since Malaspina Straight - this is a recurring theme), however, the weather was at the expense of being able to sail - our general course was North-West and yes, the wind came from the North-West. We managed to sail into Desolation Sound - that was about it.

Once in Johnstone Straight, my cousins, having read all about the whales there, decided it was time for them to make their appearance. I carefully explained that it didn't work that way, that this was a BIG hunk of water and the whales could be anywhere. They nodded politely and started looking with even more determination - the book said the whales were supposed to be here and so they should be. We headed for Port Neville, a nice long shallow bay - well, why draw it out - sure enough just as we came within a mile of shore a male and two female Orca's crossed right in front of our bow. I turned off the motor and we drifted around for about 20 min. just watching them swim back and forth by us. On the way into Port Neville we bought some salmon off a fish boat and had a major feast to celebrate. Over the next 3 days we got as far north as Alert Bay, saw more whales and a group of about 10 Pacific White-Sided Dolphins. We visited the Park Rangers camp just across from Robson Bight by Boat Bay and had a great visit with them. The wind held from the North-West, the sun shone - life was good.

As we were passing Port Neville heading south, and remembering the fine time we had there the wind started picking up and then it REALLY picked up. It went from 15 knots to about 35 knots in 15 minutes. My cousin's husband was steering and his "White Sail" certification just wasn't up to the strong winds and following seas. We broached - rolled up the jib - started the engine and reefed the main. By the time we got to the Octopus Island Marine Park the weather service was calling for 50 knots in Johnstone Straight - now we had a favorable set to the wind, just a bit too much. We got buffetted around quite a bit in the Marine Park so we decided to head farther south, possibly to Gorge Harbour. Off we went. When we got to Sutil Channel the ferry that crosses the channel was reporting 2 to 3 foot waves in 25 to 30 knots of wind. We had no real options for an anchorage under a lee shore so I decided to run down wind to the lee of Marina Island off of Cortes Island and see how the weather evolved. Bad move. We were about 1 hour into our crossing and the wind REALLY picked up. Under bare poles and with the engine on at half power to improve the steering in the short 6 to 8 foot chop we were doing 8 to 10 knots. The ferry was now reporting 55 knots and had stopped operation because of the difficulty in docking. The sun shone the wind BLEW! after a really hairy 2 hours we rounded the south end of Cortes Island (there was no 'lee' behind Marina Island). The land is low there so we were forced to motor into about a 40 knot headwind. The LORAN said we were making about 1.3 to 1.8 knots forward - fine by me, better than going back out into the 50 plus knots!!
Once I got the boat over the 20m depth line and we could start seeing individual rocks on the beach we had enough shelter to get up to 4 knots. With a not so steady eye on the depth sounder we made it into Cortes Bay, dropped both anchors with LOTS of scope and settled into the Stornoway's bar. After a really good night's sleep we sailed over to Cape Mudge and motored up to Campbell River. There my cousins headed off to Tofino and Lucy and Anna joined me for the trip South.

We set off after a couple of days of re-provisioning and cleaning the salt off of everything in bright sunlight with no wind. After a night in Westview we set off back down Malaspina Straight and sure enough by 10:00 the wind had clocked around to the SE and filled in to a solid 22 knots - right on the nose. We tacked up the straight for about 3 hours and finally gave up at the entrance to Jervis Inlet. We docked in Saltery Bay and Anna and I went fishing off of the dock.

The next day the wind was definitely some place else and we motored across to Nanaimo. We anchored off of Newcastle Island so that Lucy & Anna could go exploring. The next day we popped through Dodd Narrows (missed slack by 15min. and had to really fight to make that last 40m.) motored down Trincomali Channel in the rain and anchored in Montague harbour. They have really done a nice job fixing up the store - I guess it's been a long time since we were there. The next day was a short hop to Ganges for my cousin's 25th Wedding Anniversary and a few days of drying out.
It was finally time to end the holiday and head back to Vancouver. It was the 25th and I was ready to go for another month. The weather man was co-operating nicely by suggesting we could expect a Gale out of the SE for our crossing (ouch) so we stuffed everything into lockers down below as we sailed back up Trincomali. We exited Porlier pass almost 2 hours early so that I could see how the "Gale" was shaping up and decide if we were going to "Go for It" or head back inside the Islands (I kept thinking of the Pub on Thetis Island). The rain came back - the wind didn't. We reached across in about 12 knots of wind - docked in False Creek and got out the Gin.

The boat had preformed admirably - we had rolled down to 50 degrees crossing Sutil Channel and only took a couple of gallons over the rail. It was hard work to keep the boat pointed in the right direction but things never felt "out-of-control". The worst part was the constant drenching from the spray flying everywhere and the howl of the wind. I was told that providing you held on, it was fairly pleasant down below. The little blast in Malaspina just goes to show that nothing goes well to weather in a 3 foot chop while bucking 1.5 knots of current. The boat tacked very well but we really had it "cranked up" trying to make speed. In retrospect it was probably more comfortable than trying to motor straight into that kind of short sea. All in all we motored probably 90% of the trip and had the sails reefed all the way down whenever we did sail. An acquaintance came sailing for an afternoon the week after we returned and asked why every sail on the boat had to be "un-reefed".

My Autohelm 4000 finally died - I guess 7 years is about all you get out of 'em. It now reads about 135 degress off course when heading North and the heading values increase when I turn left - hmmm - not quite right. Any thoughts on a good auto-pilot??
Fair Winds and Clear Skies
John, Lucy & Anna Volc