Solstice Cruise, part 3
thumbnail On the "beach" (sandy spit) at Ruxton at low tide; you could almost imagine yourself on a tropical island! But the water is still chilly and the "sand" is actually crushed shell, somewhat sharp and unfriendly to bare feet. Big clams lurk just below the surface of the sand and we think about making another expedition during a month with an 'R' in it :-) We kayak around the anchorage for a while, checking out the rocks and reefs; it's nice to tour an anchorage by dinghy or kayak at low tide before trying to take a big boat in there.

thumbnail Paddling back to Taz in a rising SEly, I can almost "sail" my kayak downwind, except that it keeps wanting to round up. I'm itching to get sails up again: this breeze is too good to waste!

thumbnail We get out the GPS again and try some different points of sail, broad reaching and running. Oddly it seems that Taz is no faster on a broad reach than on a dead run; I also find that she can self steer DDW (dead downwind) which few if any Marconi-rigged boats seem to do.

thumbnail We futz around to the West of Ruxton for a while, but we need to be at Dodd Narrows before 6 pm to catch the last of the flood; better to be near our goal in case the wind changes, so we run down toward Dodd, winging out the fore and main. This composite image gives some idea of the mainsail on a dead run -- the 20 foot length of its battens is almost twice Taz' beam. On our way to Dodd we pass a big cruising ketch also sailing downwind, and in a mischievously competitive moment I shake out all the reefs and fly all the canvas we have; sure enough, we pull slowly away from them. Downwind, square footage is all that counts :-) I had hoped to sail magnificently through Dodd, but alas the wind dies dead when we're just a mile or so short of the Narrows. We have to motor home, darnit.

thumbnail Motoring steadily along Northumberland Channel on our way back to Nanaimo; one tired but happy skipper, steering with one foot and keeping a good lookout for ferries. We ran Dodd with about a 3 knot flood, so Taz' ground speed was almost 10 knots as the Narrows spat us out into Northumberland Channel. (That's the fastest she's ever moved, I'm quite sure). The weather people have lied to us again; the showers that weren't supposed to happen until tomorrow are starting now, with a few isolated raindrops. But nothing can dampen my satisfaction. Taz has passed her post-refit diagnostic test with flying colours. Sure, I have a "fixit list" to address before taking her out again; but it's a small list and mostly fun stuff (rigging), not major mechanical issues or broken spars.

thumbnail Over the mountains south of town, magnificent rain clouds boil and brood. By the time we are at the dock again, it's actually sprinkling and we hurry to get sail covers on. It's rather sad to be tied to a dock once more, Taz' first little cruise already over. But she's operational at last and there's no reason not to take her out as often as possible for the rest of the summer -- as soon as we get back from our Prince Rupert trip, that is :-)