This is the inside of Tidepool, looking forward. Lots of room.


This is Avare anchored in Pendrell Sound. Tidepool is rafted up to port. They had already been out for four months, exploring the area north of Desolation. The water here is the warmest on the North American Pacific Coast. It’s about 75 degrees American. That’s about 45 Canadian. Or so. Maybe 8. Dunno.


We put a piece of plywood in the bottom of our dingy to stiffen the floor. Now it will plane with our two-horse motor. It feels faster when you’re in the boat.


Tidepool at anchor in the estuary mouth at Manson’s landing. Tidepool is in about two feet of water. Avare, the green boat behind us, is in about thirty feet of water. Interesting place.


The best way to anchor in a fjord is to drop your anchor right offshore in fifty feet of water, then tie the back of the boat to a tree. The anchor can’t drag straight uphill.


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Bugs, Birds, and Snakes.

This is a snake in a lake. Not that unusual, but interesting none-the-less.


This is a similar snake in the ocean. Unusual, at least for us. It was dipping it’s head underwater and eating something off the rocks.


Two completely different dragonflies.


We wuz swimming in this lake. Then we saw this leech. Then we wuzzunt swimming no more.


This great blue duck was remarkably unconcerned about stepping over our shore stern-tie ropes.


This duck plays for the All Blacks. He performed a Haka for us.


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BC Water and Tree Pictures

Not all trees are beautiful. Some are trying to kill us. I guess they can be beautiful and try to kill us. It’s not binary.


This is a lake above Grace Harbor. We didn’t go swimming. Really, really pretty though.


This is the hike above Pendrell Sound. The floor of the forest was duff. Lichens and pine needles. Apparently there are no decomposers.


This is the hike above Roscoe Bay. We did go swimming here. Lots of recent blow-down. They must have had an interesting winter.



This tree fell down in Von Donop inlet. No word on the noise it made.


Nice little cove behind Otter Island. Sheltered and quiet, but the weather had already cooled.


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BC Firesmoke.

British Columbia spent most of the summer on fire. The second week of our trip, the wind shifted offshore. Usually this would mean spectacularly warm, dry weather, but not this year.

We were at Manson’s Landing when the wind shifted. The first thing I noticed was the color of the road: orange and blue. Manson’s Landing is chock full of … free thinkers, so I figured it was an art project.

Nope. It was haze. Pretty sunsets, though.


You could even see the sunspots. Our son Pender took the same picture the same weekend in central Oregon, which was also on fire.


The haze dropped the temperature 15-20 degrees and took most of the sizzle out of the scenery.


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Meet the old prop. Same as the…

Our twenty year old prop is a 1616 three-bladed Elephant Ear. That means it’s 16 inch diameter, in a perfect world it moves forward 16 inches for each revolution, and it has three large-area blades. The prop is intended for heavy, slower boats, and Tidepool qualifies. At 3600 rpm we run about 25 kts, which is about 22-25% slip, which is high but plausible (1.47 gear ratio). I also know that this is the recommended prop for this boat, and that it’s very highly loaded.

The high slip means that the prop is working hard. Recently I’ve been unable to keep the powdercoat on the prop smooth. Cavitation pitting causes more cavitation pitting, and the damage creates more damage.

I was going to get the prop cleaned and re-powdercoated, but since it’s an aluminum prop and aluminum has a finite fatigue life, I’ll just get a new prop instead. Once cleaned and repainted, this one will make a fine spare.

Picture of the aft (pressure) side. You can clearly see where the tip vortices collapse just inside the tip. You can also see from the reflection on the upper blade where the aft edge of each blade is cupped. This helps keep the pressure on the blade above the vapor pressure of water, helping to keep the blade from completely blowing out (cavitating).


This is the forward (suction) side of the prop. You can clearly see where the water pressure drops below the water vapor pressure (about 1/4 of the way back from the front edge of the blade). Then the flow separates and the water vacuum boils, then the bubbles collapse eating away the finish and the underlying aluminum. It’s not good for anything. Pretty cool stuff.


Here’s a pretty good video showing the tip vortex shedding. Science!

Here’s a pretty good video showing flow separation. Angle of attack and slip angle are roughly equivalent. More Science!

Except for the French, this one is great. I think they’re saying “This shows exactly what Phil is talking about…”

This is the best video of all. The narrator is even speaking English, although very, very slowly.


Went down to our favorite prop shop in Mukilteo, WA to get the new prop. Great price, by the way. I asked to talk to one of the expert about the wear patterns.

Susan looked over (from across the room) “It’s bent,” she said. Then she showed me several places where the prop was, indeed, bent. I hadn’t seen any of them. She said the wear pattern on the forward side of the blade could be due to too much trim,- but was more likely due to a change in the bottom of the boat or the outdrive. It could have come from the dents on the edges, too.

She said the new high-pitched singing noise may be cavitation or the dents, or maybe a seal or bearing is going out. So we’ll see. Then she guessed (correctly) what type of boat it came off of.

She also said it was cheaper to replace the prop rather than re-powdercoat it, but a little black spray paint will make it look fine for an hour or two.

I can’t recommend this place enough. We’ve bought and had them service props since 1990 or so, and have never had a bad experience. There are other people using their name, though, so be careful. The real Prop Shop is on South Road in Mukilteo.

North to Warm Water

Once you leave the tropics, the Pacific Ocean on the North American west coast gets cold quickly. You have to go back south to get warm again. Unless it’s July through September. Then your best bet is to go north. Way north. Past halfway, to N50 degrees, about halfway up the inside of Vancouver Island at the top of the Georgia Straits. It’s roughly as far from our house to Desolation Sound as Pt. Pulpito is from La Paz.

FA salish-baja

The saltwater there is stuck. As the moon pulls on the waters of the Pacific Ocean, it sloshes out around the northern and southern ends of Vancouver Island, then it comes back in. At Middlenatch Island, just south of Desolation Sound, the water doesn’t really move. It just goes up and down. The water in the deep fjords just north of Middlenatch doesn’t move much, either. It just sits there in the sun like a lizard, getting warmer and warmer.

It’s kind of pretty if you like your warm water surrounded by trees and rocks.

We launched on the 29th from the nearby state park, ran the truck and trailer back to the house, drove to beach and parked at a friends, then jumped in Tidepool and ran north. We stopped in at South Pender island to clear customs. Three courteous Canadians were there to clear us in. First stop was the phone…”Phil? Good morning. Is Nancy with you? Any drugs? Fine, then. Please return to your boat, we’ll do a quick search, and you can be on your way.”

The nice customs lady was waiting at the boat when I returned, talking to Nancy. Nancy got off the boat and the nice lady asked if we wanted to tell them anything before they searched the boat. “Have fun,” I said.

“You sure,” she said, “it’s no big deal if you tell us the truth.”

“No worries,” I said, “although it is pretty funny that Canadians would search American boats entering BC for dope.”

She laughed. “Yeah, well, it’s the law. Are you sure you have nothing to tell us.”

“We’re clean,” I told her. “I’m not too worried.”

Bam! The Labrador appeared. The doggie and two nice officers searched our boat for about ten minutes while we chatted on the dock. One of the officers liked our boat a lot. “A head with a door!” he said. “Fantastic.”

And off we went. We got fuel in Nanaimo, about 100 miles north of where we started, again in Lund, and made it to Desolation in time to anchor and have dinner before dark. About 160 nautical miles, about 1.8 miles per gallon. Perfecto.

We dawdled in Desolation for almost two weeks, then headed home, again stopping once for fuel at Montague Harbor just before we left Canada. There was one agent working at Friday Harbor on a lovely sunny Sunday afternoon. It took us four phone calls before he answered, he’d never heard of us before, and he made us hike into town to surrender our limons.

Here’s a compressed video of our trip in 2011. This one was almost the same, except the weather was better for the crossings and worse for the visiting.


Safe Drinking Water


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We made our own water in Mexico, using a reverse osmosis (RO) system. It’s like a very, very fine filter that filters the salt (and everything else) out of sea water. RO uses a lot of electrical energy, but if you plan for it, it’s not a big deal.

We met a few boats that filled their tanks periodically, which is also not a big deal. Water sources are about 120 miles apart, so plan accordingly. Obviously, those boats did a lot less washing than we did.

We also met and heard of way, way too many boats that got sick from bad water. Bad water is almost completely preventable. If you add chlorine to your water, you won’t get sick. If you don’t add chlorine, you’ll eventually get sick. Iodine doesn’t actually work — it’s not chemically active enough. Filters and UV treatments don’t work. UV won’t work where the light don’t shine, and filters only work until they get full (clog) or the filter gets changed without bleaching everything. Then they fail, and then you get really sick because all the contamination imbedded in the filter washes downstream.

So, first you need to clean (shock) your tanks. This is a highly speculative process, and it depends on how dirty your tanks are. If you keep your tanks clean, then you have less to do. We would add 2 cups of bleach to ten gallons of water at the beginning and end of each sailing season. Poor the mixture into (each) tank, bleed every faucet and hose bib until you smell chlorine, then leave it sit for at least 24 hours or until you return to the boat. Then run the system empty, add more water, and flush the system. Since our water tanks are clean, we left the tanks empty except for the bleach mix when we were away from the boat.

When you add water from a hose (from a roughly clean source), add one teaspoon of bleach per ten gallons of water, or one ounce of bleach per fifty gallons of water. If you’re adding water from a clear stream (in Desolation Sound, for instance) add twice that amount (note that the chlorine still won’t kill Giardia).

Since we knew our RO water was sanitary and safely handled, we added about half that dosage to our water tanks. The chlorine smell was almost always negligible. In addition, our RO system pumped into a smaller drinking water tank first, which we didn’t chlorinate except at the beginning and end of the cruise (or every five-six months of continuous cruising). You can also use a carbon filter to clean up your drinking water.

If you come into any kind of contact with people that have had digestive problems, wipe your boat interior down with bleach water (not a lot, but it should smell a little). Bleach water is also the best solution for mildew and mold, although vinegar works a little.

If you don’t want to deal with bleach bottles, or if you want to deal with something cooler than bleach bottles, then you need this—> H2gO-PRIME-5-ppm-device_1024x1024The h2go purifier turns water and salt (or seawater) into a concentrated sterilizing solution that works like nothing else. It even kills giardia. And…solar power! That’s right. And…a flashlight. I can’t believe you haven’t bought one yet. Go buy one now!

People seem to be afraid of chlorine. They shouldn’t be. They should be afraid of cholera, shigella, legionella, giardia, campylobacter, norovirus, salmonella, cryptosporidium, et. al. Also, living full-time long-time on RO water has it’s own risk — mineral deficiency. A daily mineral tablet will do you no harm, and make sure the kids are using fluoride toothpaste. Their teeth will thank you.

Some older boats and RVs were plumbed with polybutylene (PB) pipe, which will fail when exposed to chlorine. It’s probably already failed. Make sure you use PEX when you re-plumb your boat.

H2gO Purifier PRIME