Solstice Cruise, part 1
thumbnail June 20th, early evening: Taz at the fuel dock in Nanaimo Boat Basin. Here we took on 125 litres of marine diesel at about a (Canadian) buck a litre. (That's about $4/gal CDN, for Yankee readers.) This was probably only my fourth or fifth dock approach, and Taz weighs twice as much as the last boat I sailed regularly (a Cal 31); so I am more than a trifle nervous coming alongside large fixed objects, particularly when there's an audience (and with Taz, there's always an audience). However, it all went smoothly... and I appreciated sincerely her unusually small turning radius (for her size and weight) when it was time to leave.

thumbnail On the hook in the anchorage in Nanaimo Harbour ("the cheap seats" as they are known to local marina-dwellers)... long have I waited to see Taz at anchor again. The last time she was here was in May of 2005. Her recent paint job is looking pretty crisp iidssm :-) A panel of mizzen sail is raised to keep her head up into the wind (otherwise the large foresail bundle tends to make her round down. Note to those who find Taz' lines confusing: the mizzen sail is at the *stern*, to your right in this picture. She is anchored conventionally by the bow.

thumbnail These views were taken from a kayak. In the background, the Nanaimo waterfront. Taz' unusual bow is rather noticeable: the triangular kickplate of gumwood is to protect the steel from swinging anchors as they come aboard.

thumbnail It was a beautiful evening with a northerly breeze just starting to kick up.

thumbnail We took a little kayak ramble over to the island (Newcastle) to enjoy a walk before settling down to dinner. Here's Jon in one of the Cheap Costco Kayaks :-)

thumbnail And here's a happy skipper in the other kayak, complete with big grin.

thumbnail June 21 -- Summer Solstice. We had a restless night at anchor. The northerly breeze built overnight into a gusty wind that rattled rigging all over the anchorage; Taz fidgeted and swung to random gusts coming over the top of Newcastle Island. I was up most of the night listening to strange new boat noises and getting up to find out what they were (a classic case of New Skipper-itis). In the morning the wind had built to 20+ knots from the NW, and we had a bit of a beat to get out of the harbour and around the northern end of Gabriola Island. Here my partner-in-crime steers for a bit while I take a quick snapshot. We're flying "jib and jigger" (foresail and mizzen, both slightly reefed) and motoring slowly to keep her pointing and footing high. I'm not confident enough yet to raise the main in this air, and quite frustrated to be motorsailing on our first fine day out.

thumbnail The seas are small but steep and close together; Taz pounds a bit but slogs on doggedly, the prop just ticking over while the foresail does about half the work. It's getting wet on the foredeck at this point, but back on the raised after deck we're dry and relatively comfy.

thumbnail I fear some spray has got on the camera lens -- ah, the cinema verite touch :-) Ahead and to the SE, Entrance Island with its light and outbuildings.

thumbnail We aren't making much downwind speed with so little sail area -- I venture to raise 2 panels of the main sail, and away we go! All sailboat owners know how hard it is to get photos of your own sails from on deck; this Frankenstein-image (stitch marks all too plainly evident) is the best I could do. Here's the reefed main, driving us quite well in 20 knots.

thumbnail I leave the helm again to take a snapshot of the gorgeous day. Note the reefed mizzen above and behind Jon, and our wake spooling out behind us.

thumbnail We scudded by Entrance Island at a good clip.

thumbnail Ah, Beautiful BC. It's a lovely day, blue on blue as far as the eye can see; I only wish it were just a tad less frisky out here. Not the conditions I would have chosen for an untried rig (this is Taz' first post-refit sail more than a mile from her dock and in more than 5 knots of air).

thumbnail I leave the helm yet again to take snapshots; here's Jon reasoning with the helm, with the reefed mizzen just behind him. We pass through a tidal boil on our way down the eastern shore of Gabriola -- an acre or so of strangely angry water, whitecaps on confused seas; then things calm down again. Tidal effects around here can be quite spectacular; also quite inconvenient at times :-)

thumbnail Now this is the kind of thing I like to see out the main hatch while fixing lunch :-) Open water, not docks and the masts of other boats!

thumbnail We've got only 2 panels of the huge mainsail up, but it's enough.

thumbnail Approaching Silva Bay, we've dropped the main and are ghosting along on the foresail (the wind has reduced considerably) while I start the engine.

thumbnail At anchor in Silva Bay, about 15 miles south of Nanaimo. This is the furthest Taz has ever travelled, as far as I know; the previous owner never sailed her anywhere. Too bad about the smudge on the lens...

thumbnail At the dock in Silva Bay, a classic San Francisco Pelican!

thumbnail While in harbour we paid a visit of respect to Allen Farrell's beautiful boat "Native Girl". Farrell seemed incapable of drawing an incorrect line for a sailing vessel; and this is one of his finest.

thumbnail Silva Bay and the little Flat Top islands are a kayaking playground. After a siesta we ventured out to enjoy the sunset on the Longest Day.

thumbnail It was a sunset worth seeing, too; all smoke and apricot and gold.

thumbnail Here Jon enjoys the show...

thumbnail ... which only gets more beautiful as the wind dies, the water turns glassy and we seem to be paddling through pure light.