All Good Things Must Come To An End

Posted on April 3rd, 2007 by Darusha

After many adventures and wonderful times aboard Wai Whare, we have now bought a larger, offshore boat. Therefore, Wai Whare is free to guide someone new over the waves.

UPDATE: Wai Whare has been sold. We hope that the new owners have wonderful adventures with the boat, just as we had.

Tide Tool

Posted on January 15th, 2007 by Darusha

Technology is becoming more popular on boats every day, even on smaller vessels like Wai Whare. We circumnavigated the island without a lot of the bells and whistles many people swear by (chartplotters, radar, etc.), but we weren’t tech-free. Of course, we had a sometimes functional VHF radio and Mr. GPS. But I forgot to mention the piece of tech that saved our bacon a bunch of times.

I have a second hand Palm Tungsten-C, a PDA. On it, I have the free program Tide Tool, which calculates tidal and current data. Even though we planned our trip in advance, and plotted out the tides and current information we thought we’d need, things often changed. Especially since we got ahead of ourselves the first week.

We were able to use Tide Tool to gauge tides and current, which once on the west side of the island, was absolutely necessary. The PDA didn’t use a lot of power, and we just recharged it every time we got shore power (or occasionally in the washrooms or laundry facilities). It was a great addition, which I highly recommend.

Weather Forecasts

Posted on October 16th, 2006 by Steven

Forecasting is difficult, especially about the future.

– Niels Bohr and/or Yogi Berra

I’m not one of those people who hate weather forecasters. If the forecast was sunny and 27c and it turns out as party cloudy and 25c, I think that the forecast was accurate. However, I did learn about a few differences between land forecasts for a city and marine forecasts.

For a week before I got to the Brooks peninsula, the forecast for the Brooks peninsula was Gales 30-40 knots northwest. Every day, all day, for a week. The forecast was the same the day that I sailed around Brooks peninsula. I was motoring in 3 knots from the south and sunny skies, 2 miles off of the Brooks Peninsula, when I had a few insights:

  • Marine forecasts have a lot more detail than land forecasts. A land forecast provides high and low temperatures, a cloud cover description, and a percent chance of percipitation. The marine forecast provides a range of wind speeds, gust speeds, wind direction, visibility and cloud cover for morning, afternoon, evening and overnight. Simply by making more predictions, the marine forecast will average more mistakes.
  • Marine forecasts cover wide areas, which invariably have micro-weather regions that aren’t following the main regional forecasts.
  • The marine forecast focuses on the worst weather. It was blowing gales 35 knots at Solander island that day I described above when the wind disappeared (no, I was not in the lee/wind shaddow). But it never toped 20 knots anywhere else. The forecast has a bias to report the worst, which is probably a good thing.


Posted on October 9th, 2006 by Steven

Wai Whare had intended to take part in the Bluewater Cruising Association’s Thanksgiving Rendezvous at Thetis Island, but her crew was ill on Friday, October 6th. Given the early sunset, unfavourable slack water at Samsun narrows, and dreary weather we decided not to depart Saturday either.

Which left us in Tsehum harbour on Thanksgiving day. Thanksgiving was a great day: warm and sunny, with a steady moderate wind. We took Darusha’s mother, Shona, out for an afternoon sail.

We brought up the sails just past the breakwater at Van Isle Marina. We then sailed north of little group, making about 5kn healed over 15 degrees in 10-15kn from the north. We continued towards Moresby Island, “chased” by a small cutter. The wind died in the lee of Moresby and we enjoyed a short drift. We then motored to wind, tacked and sailed back just the way that we came. Everyone enjoyed our thanksgiving trip.

The Crew

Posted on September 22nd, 2006 by Darusha

We were aboard Wai Whare for a total of 25 days on the trip, and I suppose we did get a little crazy over the course of time. As such, we magically acquired additional crew members who became invaluable. They were:

Nancy Long ago Steven took to calling the alarm clock Nancy – it is an attempt to make getting up in the morning seem less… alarming.

Monsieur Le GPS is an invaluable crew member, entirely responsible for keeping us afloat in the fog. He tires easily, though, so keeping his batteries full was a close to full time job. Thankfully the solar powered battery recharger and the multimeter were up to the task. Multimetering became our favourite off-shift activity, and I’m sure M. Le GPS was happier for it.

Tilly (the Autotiller) won crew member of the day several days running once we figured out how to set her up to steer a compass course.

Manuel was the one who helped us get Tilly up to speed. Our name for any manual or set of instructions, we often were slow to call Manuel into action, but he always came through and we never doubted his wisdom.

Morales (mostly known as Morale) has a mercurial temprement, but it pays to keep an eye on how he’s feeling. When Morale was low, we found that our abilities were strongly hampered and it was wise to work on Morale before trying anything tough. Oddly, Tilly and Manuel had some of the greastest positive effects on Morale.

Sailing Directions

Posted on August 31st, 2006 by Steven

The Canadian department of Fisheries and Oceans, publishes a series of volumes called Sailing Directions. The volumes are divided by region, we used the BC (southern portion) volume.

This book was invaluable. In its 400 pages it discusses, in various levels of detail, every rock, nook, and cranny on Vancouver island or the adjacent mainland. We consulted it several times every day. Your cruising guide will discuss attractions, your charts show you where everything is, but this book will describe what places are like. Details like “this anchorage has swell in even the calmest conditions” or “holding is reported to be poor” or “should not be attempted except by those with local knowledge in calm seas at slack water” are just not on the charts. Not to mention the details of which towns have gas docks, groceries, or restaurants.

There are, of course, many things that have changed since the paper was printed. New volumes are issued regularly, but we found inaccurate information several times; for instance, Port Renfrew no longer has a public dock.

Buy this book, you won’t regret it.


Posted on August 29th, 2006 by Steven

Sooke is a large, well sheltered harbour filled with dangers. The entrance needs leading marks to keep boats from hitting the rocks and bars in the middle of the channel. Do not enter the harbour until you see the two daymarks line up, one above the other. Keep them in line as you approach until the second pair line up, then turn towards the second pair. This keeps your course only a few meters off of the prominent spit and away from the dangers in the middle of the “channel”. The harbour itself is shallow and littered with buoys marking the numerous sand bars. An alert helm paying attention to the chart is a must for any vessel that draws more an a meter.

Sooke is also a suburb of Victoria. As such it is large and has all services.

There are several sets of docks in the harbour. We stayed overnight at the public dock, which is well kept. We were uncomfortable with the shallow depths, often less than 2m even in the marked channels, so we did not explore fully enough to find a gas dock.

Approaching Sooke harbour in fog and gale force winds was the stupidest thing we did on our circumnvaigation of Vancouver Island. If the fog hadn’t cleared at the harbour mouth we certainly would have badly damaged Wai Whare. I recommend avoiding Sooke in fog in any conditions. Passable anchorage is available a few miles away on either side of Beachey Head while running aground at the mouth of Sooke Harbour is essentially guaranteeded if you can’t see the marks, even with GPS.

  • Docks: yes
    • Washrooms: not at the public dock
    • Showers: no
    • Laundry: no
    • Restaurant: yes
    • Gas: maybe?
  • Mooring Cans: no
  • Cell service: yes

Tuesday, Aug 29, 2006

Posted on August 29th, 2006 by Darusha

Depart: Sooke, 8:30
Breakfast: Eggs aboard
Weather: cloudy

Visibility! We could see across Juan de Fuca when we got out of bed and excitedly decided that we could handle 20-30 kt winds as we could finally see where we were going. We motored around Sooke harbour looking for a fuel dock. Finding unmarked shoal after unmarked shoal, we decided that we didn’t need fuel badly enough to risk running aground and left.

We encountered 2′ chop and 15 kt SW at the harbour mouth. We bashed our way upwind under power for a few minutes, then brought out the foresail to run east alond Vancouver Island. We were rewarded by seeing orcas and dodging whale watching Zodiacs.

We headed for Race Passage, only to realize by consulting our guides that it would be flooding up to 7 kt against us. On a run with surf we were making about 5 kt, so we headed up to round Race Rocks to the south. This brought 1-2 m waves abeam and made for an uncomfortable ride. Once we rounded Race Rocks the waves were again astern, but the current action slowed us and was the source of some concern.

We sailed broad reach, still with just the genoa, compass course 030° toward downtown Victoria. As Victoria grew nearer, the waves grew larger and we furled some foresail and turned to run. The wind and wave at Trial Island was quite worrisome and we repeatedly took spray over the port side, though were never awash. Once in the lee of Trial Island the waves subsided, but the wind remained fierce – we made 6 kt into Oak Bay. The waves built to 2′ in Oak Bay and we ran past 10 Mile Point, furling to half our foresail.

We turned north toward D’Arcy Island, beam reach with little sail in large gust. We sailed up Sidney Channel, where exhausted and unable to head to wind, we furled and motored past the buoys. We motored back to our dock in Tsehum Harbour, tired after what ended up being our longest day on the water.

Monday, Aug 28, 2006

Posted on August 28th, 2006 by Darusha

Depart: 8:30, Port Renfrew
Breakfast: Eggs & bread aboard
Weather: clear in the harbour with a fog bank at the mouth

After a surprisingly good night’s sleep, we weighed anchor and motored out to the mouth of Port San Juan. We could see a fog bank across the face of the the port, but the weather report called for fog patches dissipating in the morning, so we left looking forward to a brisk wind ahead.

Instead, the fog lasted all day, so thik that we saw only a brief patch of land prior to arriving in Sooke. Also, the reasonable winds instead grew to a very strong 30-35 kt, along with 1-2 m swells that occasionally broke. At one point we took a breaker over the port side and the cockpit was soaked.

We came to Sooke Inlet unable to see land at all, running 6.5-7 kt under a small jib only. The fog cleared just as we made the harbour mouth, which (thanks to the GPS and very frequent bearings plotted on the chart) we found easily. We negotiated the difficult entrance under power and, thanks to the depth sounder, avoided running aground after misreading the marker buoys in the harbour.

We pulled up to the government dock under sunny skies and with much relief.

Saturday, Aug 26, 2006

Posted on August 28th, 2006 by Darusha

Depart: Ucluelet, 10:20 am
Breakfast: New Orleans skillet/grilled vegetable omelette @ Starfish Cafe
Weather: Sunny & warm

We passed several sea lions as we motored out of Ucluelet. We saw one bickering with some seagulls, one minding its own business and two sunning themselves on an abandoned dock.

We motored to Chrow Island, where we brought up both sails beam reach toward Forbes Island in 10 kt and light chop. We had a lot of difficulty identifying Page Island as we had expected it to be much smaller. Once it was identified, we turned toward Peackock Channel and the Broken Group. We sailed for half and hour at about 5 kt but the winds in Peacock Channnel were light and variable.

After attempting several points of sail, we furled and motored to Swale Rock. There we brought up the sails again and made 4 kt close reach across Imperial Eagle Channel after dodging a clot of sports fishermen. We bore away into Satellite Channel, but the wind eased in the lee of the Deer Group islands then died entirely in Trevor Channel. We motored into Bamfield Inlet under sunny skies.