Boatbuilding Blog

June 12, 2013

Montague, Roche Harbor, to Victoria (Days 20-23)

Filed under: Longer Trips — tomlarkin @ 3:02 am

Playing with the self-timer on a calm day.

Bumblebee wants to be a hummingbird when he grows up.

Montague Harbor has a pure white beach made of shells washed out of an ancient shell midden.

Artsy shot at Montague harbor.

I rode 10 miles to the ferry terminal on Galliano. I’ve  really enjoyed having the bile on this trip.

A lot of these posters around the island.

I got a nice parking spot in Roche Harbor. I listened to the singers in the cafe right above me.

June 3, 2013


Filed under: Longer Trips — tomlarkin @ 11:30 pm

I could imagine living in Nanaimo. It’s a real city (second-largest on Vancouver Island, after Victoria), but feels very accessible, with lots of restaurants and little stores. It’s also got an amazing waterfront and some great parks. It reminds me of an upscale Bellingham.  I’ve spent two nights here. Today I rode my bike all around town, which is very hilly.

I thought these guys were pulling me over as I entered the harbor, but they went on past. my favorite colors!

They are giving me the eyeball on the way past.

Newcastle Island is a beautiful park, and protects the harbor on the North. The city in the background.

They used to quarry grindstones here (as well as coal, which gave the island it’s name). Some remnants.

The harbor has a row-up floating pub.

I found some old totem poles rotting away quietly in a park.

An eagle holding a fish.

I ended the day with a salad and a burger, and a beer.

Princess Louisa Inlet

Filed under: Longer Trips — tomlarkin @ 11:27 pm

Princess Louisa Inlet is about 4 miles long, ringed by snow-capped mountains, and is very beautiful. It’s also a real pain to get to. It’s at the end of a 32-mile long fjord, with no safe anchorage anywhere along the way. To get in the inlet, you have to go through a narrow, twisty rapids, which are only safe to traverse at slack tide. The night before, I stayed at a marina right on the waterway, with 4 knot currents passing under the boat all night. It sounded like I was on a river. I woke at 4 AM to make the 5-hour trip so I could catch the 10 AM slack. I passed a single boat the whole trip up, and there were almost no houses on the way. It was spooky in the rain and fog of early morning.


The mountains on the way in were snow-covered, and waterfalls fell a thousand feet into the salt water.

This was the only sunlight I saw in 3 days.

The passage through the rapids was uneventful, and then I realized the long trip was worth it.DSC_0077



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The view from the dock, with Chatterbox Falls in the background. I hung out for a while with Clark and Nina on the beautiful 42’ trimaran that Clark built.

There were waterfalls everywhere, tumbling vertically down the cliffs.
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I played with the self-timer on the long trip back.

And then I played with making panoramas.


This marked day 17 and the northern-most portion of my trip. From here I head south down the Vancouver side of the Straights of Georgia, and get home in two weeks.

Up the Coast from Vancouver

Filed under: Longer Trips — tomlarkin @ 11:24 pm

There was a long trip up the coast from Howe Sound, and I stayed in Smuggler’s cove that night.



Smuggler’s Cove.




AIS WatchMate Anchor Alarm

Filed under: Hardware — tomlarkin @ 11:22 pm

I bought the AIS to let me know what the ships around me were up to, and it works well for that, but on this trip I’ve been anchoring out almost every night and have been using the anchor alarm function. It’s given me real peace of mind each night. For instance, it was very windy last night and this morning, gusting to 30 knots, and hovering around 20 much of the time.  There are boats all around me in the Nanaimo anchorage just south of Newcastle Island, and I wanted to be sure I wouldn’t drag into them.

This picture shows two days of being anchored in the same place. The outer circle shows the range I can swing before the alarm goes off, in this case 150 feet diameter.. The dots are GPS positions of the boat, taken every few minutes. The inner set of dots were after I anchored, when the breeze was mild. I let out about 90 feet of line because the depth was around 25 feet.  Around 2 AM the wind picked up and I increased my scope about 30 feet for better holding – which is the cluster of dots further away from the center of the circle, where the anchor is. If I had dragged about 20 feet, the alarm would have gone off.

You can tell two things from this picture – the wind is from the NNE, and the Coot swings back and forth about 30% in the wind.


May 29, 2013

Enjoying the “Sunshine”Coast

Filed under: Longer Trips — tomlarkin @ 4:06 am

It’s been raining nonstop for the past couple of days. I headed out of Gibsons to go north this morning, but a south wind against a fast north current made for steep 2 and 3 foot waves that threw the boat around and knocked stuff out of the storage bins. That, plus they hid the myriad large deadheads, and I decided to go back to protected water until the tide changes at 3 PM. Anchored out, rowed to shore, and walked to town for chili and beer.

A few more Vancouver pictures.

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We tied up at the Granville Island public dock for a long troubleshooting session to see why the house battery couldn’t hold a charge. Finall, we decided it was just dead, so I bought a new one the next morning.

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Pulling out the dead battery. I borrowed the hand truck from Fisherman’s Wharf.

Plumper Cove, where I spent the night anchored out. A couple weekends of work and she’ll be fine!


Gibsons was the site of a very popular Canadian TV show that ran through the 70’s to the mid-80’s. This was a set on the show, and became a real restaurant after the show was cancelled. The show was about a tugboat guy who salvaged loose logs. The little tug from the show is on blocks in the town.


My aborted trip this morning. I’ll be trying again in a few minutes.

May 24, 2013

Vancouver, BC

Filed under: Longer Trips — tomlarkin @ 8:12 am

I’m sitting in the New Oxford Public House in trendy Yaletown, which is the closest dinghy dock from where I’m anchored. I’m here for the rosemary garlic fries and the free wifi (password ‘amazingfood’). They have hockey on all the TV’s.   I spent the morning washing clothes, and this afternoon walked across Vancouver from False Creek to the downtown waterfront, and back. My feet hurt!

(BTW: Canadian bills are cool – smooth plastic with clear section and holograms. Shiny!)

The view from my table. These establishments are in old warehouses, and the fronts are all 4 feet above the street on the original loading docks.

I’m right next to Granville Island Public Market. I stopped for coffee on the way to the  marina to wash my clothes. WP_20130523_009 WP_20130523_010

Seabus  in front of Granville Market.

Coming into town yesterday afternoon. I wanted to go up the Fraser river, but there was an outgoing current of 6 knots, which is my fastest speed, so I spent 45 minutes staying in one place before giving up and heading straight here.

This is where I anchored.

Cute critters in the park.

Meryll is planning on coming up this weekend. I’m working on places to take her. Should be fun!

May 22, 2013

Happy Herschel

Filed under: Wildlife — tomlarkin @ 7:19 am

This sweet little guy was hanging out on the buoy off of Golden Gardens park when I went by last week.

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May 21, 2013

SPOT Satellite Tracker

Filed under: Hardware — tomlarkin @ 11:32 am

I’ve activated my SPOT tracker. You should be able to see where I’ve been on this page:

It doesn’t work well in IE10 – use Firefox or Chrome. Please comment here or email me if you have problems seeing the page.

Here’s my trip from Blaine to Point Roberts. It uploads a point every 10 minutes.

Leaving the US!

Filed under: Longer Trips — tomlarkin @ 10:19 am

I’m anchored in Drayton Harbor, by Blaine, Washington right now. I can see the Canada border and the Peace Arch from out the porthole. I’ll be heading to Vancouver via the Fraser River in the morning. I want to hang out in False Creek for 4 or 5 days and explore Vancouver by bike and Sky Train. Meryll may come up next weekend, and bring her bike too. Then up the Sunshine Coast to Lund and Desolation Sound.

Meryll drove up to Bellingham on Saturday, and we spent the night anchored in a tiny cove on Lummi Island, then we hung out in Eagle Harbor on Cypress before heading to Vendovi Island and hiking across it to see wildflowers. Vendovi has recently been opened to the public after  being bought by a conservation group. It was really beautiful, and the afternoon was sunny and calm.



Pigeon Guillemot sex!
Pigeon Sex

Meryll spent the time happily identifying all of the flowers.


We walked across the island to Paintbrush Point.

The forest primeval.

The view north from Paintbrush Point overlook. (Links to a big version)


On the way back to Bellingham to drop Meryll off, we ran across brother Steve taking his new boat, the Coral, out for her maiden sail. Steve spent two years building the Coral in his  front yard, and brother John and I helped launch it last month. Coral was moving beautifully in a light breeze, and Steve looked justifiably pleased. Interesting sail plan, to say the least!

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