The Desolation Sound area – despite it’s name – its fantastically beautiful, and rich in wildlife. I suppose that’s difference between modern sedentary urban people and European explorers viewing the area for the first time more than 200 years ago.
The area draws visitors from around the world, and the following images will attest to the reason. Although it’s been cool and cloudy with evening rain since we left Nanaimo, I haven’t really missed the sun. These islands and fjords are so wild, they become much more mysterious wreathed in clouds. Very primal experience, and you are reminded that even in summer, this is very much a rainforest.
But not all’s well in Eden. We had a shake up yesterday evening as we pulled late into our anchorage. Unfortunately it is a small anchorage, and by that time of day crowded with 4 boats. Stern tie was mandatory. I could have anchored a little distance away in the adjoining cove but I was tired and a little irascible; I had sailed that distance to be in that cove, and by god I was going to anchor in that cove!
I wish I had followed my first impulse. I also wish I had bothered to check out the funny noise I heard when reversing into the public dock at Refuge Cove earlier in the day. I had had enough warning.
Anyway I make the rounds of the little cove and find a tiny area suitable for anchoring, flanked by shoals on three sides. Back into this little spot and we’re good to go, I told myself. I moved the boat into place and sent Tracy forward to drop the hook, which she did. I popped it into reverse, and nothing happened. My eyes probably looked like headlights at that. I put it into forward. Again just the rumble of the engine and no response from the boat.
Cursing a blue streak, a jumped in the dinghy with a long length of rope, hoisted the outboard, tied the rope to the stern and roared away to shore. Now trying to pull the stern of a 16,000 lb sailboat with a 1hp outboard on an 8-foot inflatable wasn’t particularly effective, and I had to yell at Tracy to let out more anchor rode so I could reach shore. Once there I could heave on the line and bring her stern in and set the hook. Of course Tracy helpfully informed me of the rapidly shallowing depth as I did so, not realising that without me pulling Fainleog in, she could go swinging into the shoals or a neighbouring boat.
I did a little quick math in my head and figured we’d have just about enough depth, give or take a few feet, but that I could double check when I got back into the boat.
I have to tell you I was furious at Fainleog. I had been trolling for salmon on the way up Waddington Channel, and in order to go at a constant trolling speed of 2.5 knots, I had to regularly pop her in and out of gear as we burbled along. Not once did she give me any problems when we were surrounded by miles of open water; instead she shoves the knife between my ribs when it is late and have only a few meters of swing room on either side. I was ready to crack open a seacock and send her to the bottom.
Once we had her safely position and anchored (I calculated we would have 2 feet below her keel at low water at 4:00 AM.) I pulled of the companionway steps to look at her engine. As I suspected, the three bolts that bolt her prop shaft to the V-drive had fallen out and the shaft was no longer connected to the engine.
At this point I knew it was sabotage. This had happened twice before to me, and in a pique I had gone to town with this troublesome joint. That was two years ago, and it hasn’t given me trouble since. The way this joint works is there is a flange on the end of the prop shaft that mates to an identical flange coming out of the V-drive. The V-drive side is threaded and the bolts pass through the prop flange and screw into the V-drive one.
Normally the manufacturer installs lock washers on these bolts to keep them from backing out, but as experience had taught me, they were insufficient. To ensure they never gave me trouble again, I used the original lock washers, thread locking compound on the bolts, and switched the bolts for longer ones, so they would protrude out the back of the V-drive flange, and I could install locknuts on them.
That’s three different methods I used to lock those buggers in place. And two days prior, I had checked the fluid levels and cleaned the bilge under the drive. There were no bolts or nuts. And yet two days later – after 2 years of working fine – all three locknuts fell off and all three bolts backed out.
Farley Mowat describes such events in his book, The Boat That Wouldn’t Float, where his boat manages the most diabolical betrayals at the worst possible times. How else are we to see such utterly impossible events? If my wife weren’t such a coward I would suspect her having a hand in it.
Thing is, I can’t handle this stuff. Not right now, not with Tracy aboard. If I were on my own it would be fine, but having the responsibility of an easily terrified passenger aboard adds enormously to the pressure. She could tell I was in no mood for BS last night so she kept a low profile, but I could tell she was horrified at our anchoring position and snuck into the cockpit late last night to do – I have no idea – I guess to see if we were high and dry on the rocks or something. She once knew how to calculate this stuff, but has long since forgotten, so instead pressures yours truly, which greatly adds to my stress.
I was very disappointed in my little boat. The engine has been running flawlessly so far, and I had hoped – prayed, actually – that we’d get through this trip without any mechanical drama. So much for that. Admittedly, I did hear something that didn’t sound good when we were at Refuge Cove, but it was subtle, and I just didn’t want to deal with it. Bad noises when you put a boat into gear can mean thousands of dollars, and I just refused to acknowledge it. I was going to go ashore, buy some ice cream, and enjoy my afternoon. Everything was working fine, so it could wait until we anchored later that night. Ha Ha.
I’m not sure where to go from here, literally and metaphorically. We have had a glorious trip so far, but there have been a couple of stressful times and I can tell I’m not up to the burden. Having a dependent passenger aboard, especially one I love and who quietly demands things from me, is a heavy weight right now.
There’s an old saying that you can’t fake it at sea, and that is certainly true. Our relationship stuff comes to the fore when Tracy and I sail, and at other times I think I could work with it, but right now it undermines me. When stuff goes off and I have to pull a solution out of my ass, and my life partner lets it be known that she’d rather bet on a Middle Eastern dictator than me, it makes it very hard to stand strong and have faith in what I know.
And yet this is tempered by the fact that we are having a glorious time. Part of me wants to send her ashore, and part of me wants to carry on exploring this wonderful marine world with her. It’s the burden of caring for her when things go wrong that I’m just not up to dealing with. History suggests that anticipating that there will be no further mishaps is a fool’s hope. I guess I’ll have to make a decision in the next couple of days.