one thing that surprised me about our recently sail up the coast was how small our footprint was (relatively speaking). ideally it would have been effectively nil except for the demands of society and why it is an ultimate dream for us to be able to detach from shorebound responsibilities. i’ll explain. we sailed as far as we could in the 9 days that tracy had off. i was determined that we would make the most of sailing – we live on a sailboat after all. if the wind didn’t blow we stayed put; i didn’t want to spend my days motoring. we did pretty good, one day we ended up motoring for a few hours as the wind deposited us in the middle of trincomali channel and then died, and did the same thing on the last day on the way home. it was blowing like hell out of sydney and we had a double reef in the main, wind over 25 knots and then nothing. we used the tide each day, and the wind was fantastic every other time we went out. still the small window we had did contribute to the amount of fuel burned, especially the three and a half hours motoring that last day. the point to all this is that for the nine days of vacation we consumed about 45 litres of fuel, and 1/2 of that was burnt just getting in and out of anchorages. the thing to remember is that this is the total of commercial energy we consumed. between the motoring and our solar panels we always had plenty of power. we never went below 1/4 of our reserve capacity, even when we spent two days in silva bay. when one factors in the energy spent daily in the average household of two, including fossil fuels, our consumption was a tiny blip. In fact, i would love to go right off the grid and just live off solar and wind, but given where we live it isn’t possible. in the summer and parts of the shoulder season perhaps, but in winter it is just too cold up here and that’s the big issue of canada and the energy we consume – heat in winter. there is no way that alternative energy sources could keep this boat warm. we could just use propane heat in the furnace but it’s not designed for 24/7 use and that would be expensive – and prove nothing. i would rather plug in and use hydro. if we lived in warmer climes it would be totally feasible.
the other sweet thing was that our vacation was incredibly cheap and yet beautiful and exciting. like i said the sailing was fantastic and most days we had to reef the main. we spent maybe 60 bucks on fuel, and the rest (bars, moorage) was totally elective. but we could have done the 9 days spending under $100.00. as it was we spent a few hundred, but two people, 9 days vacation, and check out the photos. it’s one of the fantastic aspects of liveaboarding – taking your home with you on vacation.
we just got back from a 9-day sail through the gulf islands and up the coast. i was hoping to make jervis inlet but 9 days just isn’t enough time, not when you don’t want to motor. when you go with the wind you discover she’s a high-maintenance bitch. like today. we’ve barely burned any fuel because of this ethos of mine -you’re on a sailboat so sail. a lot of folks can’t be bothered and i don’t get it but i’m not in their shoes. did i say we barely burned any fuel? that was before today. we were screaming along doing more than 7 knots in the gusts when the wind just died. left us in the middle of haro strait; no anchorages to be found. so we fired up the diesel and rumbled along for like three damn hours. augh. i guess we burned about 30 litres of fuel, which isn’t that bad for 9 days and at least 250 nautical miles of cruising.
but as for the title of this insert, what i noticed on this trip was the absolute DEARTH of stinkpots out there this year. in other years we constantly had to dodge the wakes of people going hell bent for leather to god knows where. sailboats were in the minority. this year almost all we saw were sailboats. tons of ‘em. the occasional powerboat here and there, but only occasionally, and i only had one experience where i cursed some twit who blasted by us leaving a trough in the ocean that a freighter would be ashamed to leave behind. Only once did i complain about engine noise echoing over the water, and that was the coast guard. in most anchorages we stayed in the ration was like 1/3 to 2/3 in favour of sailboats.
i like sailing with sailboats around. they are quiet. they go slow. and by-and-large sailors seem to know what they are doing. i’ve never had something untoward happen to me with another sailboat; it always seems to be the stinkpotters who cause trouble. on this trip some unfortunate fellow ran his power cruiser onto some rocks and took out a prop and rudder. some folks in their dinghies decided to give him a hand and pulled him off, dropping him right in front of us, in a ten-knot wind. by the time he got his anchor worked out he was like a couple of metres in front of us, me letting out anchor chain like demon. of course that meant that until he was towed out we couldn’t leave either, not with him sitting on our anchor.
of the few power vessels i did see, more than half were american, which is surprising. it’s not like they were all huge, expensive yachts (although the big ones were always yankee). some were quite modest. and yet their skippers paid for the fuel to come up here. or maybe as was discussed in an earlier post they keep their boats at sydney.
it seems obvious to me that the price of gas has had a very positive effect on our waters. i regret the impact it must be having on marinas and such, but to have great stretches of the gulf islands dotted only with white sails is a tremendous improvement to the mayhem that we’ve all considered normal, especially around the busier anchorages.