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Spirit of Freedom's Gunkhole Adventure 2006
June 10 - September 10   1,254 nautical miles

“Official Departure” was from Port Orchard, WA, having left our homeport of Port of Grapeview two weeks prior. We returned to Port Ludlow, WA to lay over for a week prior to haul-out in Port Townsend, WA.

At anchor just off of the entrance to Prideaux Haven, Desolation Sound, British Columbia

     The start of the adventure was…well, not exactly a great start! Onboard with me (Pamela) were best-bud Tami and friend Ralph. Tami was a last minute stow-away…having recently had surgery she had not planned on cruising this summer, but when she came to see Pamela and Ralph off in Port Orchard, she decided that she should finish her recovery onboard. So plans were made to pick her up the next day in Kingston. All went well for the first four days, with a fast trip heading to Nanaimo. We decided to motor up thru the Swinomish Channel from Kingston which would put us into the San Juan’s sooner than if we had headed to Pt. Townsend and crossed the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  We had some great sailing along the way after we got into the San Juan and Gulf Islands. 

Swinomish Channel (Wa), under sail & entering Montegue Harbor (Galliano Isl. BC) under sail

    After an uneventful passage thru Dodd Narrows, I turned the helm over to Ralph and went below to tend to “business.”  That’s when the deadhead decided to connect with the hull mid-Northumberland Channel. And what a sound that made!! HUGE crash! I was topside in a heartbeat. Ralph had already put engine in neutral; I throttled it back to idle. Tami and I checked bilges, everything seemed ok so I took back the helm put her in gear and throttled up. Everything seemed fine.
    We arrived in Nanaimo and got a slip assignment. I was not comfortable where they were putting us, there was not enough water, and it was way too tight. I began to spin around to go to another dock-- went to put the engine in reverse and found the shift lever flopping loose. The linkage was severed the engine was shifted to neutral at high rpm's and had not fallen out of place until I put her back into gear from neutral (it is a push/pull assembly). The wind was blowing at 15 knots in the marina...yikes! I docked stuck in forward gear at the fuel dock….Perfect landing thanks to the dock crew that helped stop me!
    I contacted my insurance company and they put me in contact with their local insurance surveyor. We were towed (!) to a haul out, and hauled out for repair/inspection as per insurance company. Big divot in gel coat on starboard side of keel, forward and low. No other damage other than the shift cable. However the haul out place managed to scratch and ding us in several places just getting us in the lift! Not a fun experience! We spent the night at hotel after having dinner and several drinks!
    The next day the cable was replaced by 1:30, and it was decided to repair the keel & gel coat upon my return home. We were back in water at 5:30 PM, but had to stay at the dock - there was barely enough water to float us.
    The next morning we left repair dock at 7:30 am, and went to the Nanaimo Yacht Club reciprocal dock to wait out the bad weather that rolled in. The really good thing out of all of this? While at the Nanaimo YC we met a wonderful woman named Liz…75 years old and single-handing her Monk…she is a kick! And a character to boot; I ended up spending several days later in the summer with her. One very special thing about her boat? The hand pump at the sink pumps red wine instead of water!

Dodd Narrows (No. Gulf Islands BC), Tow & Haulout in Nanaimo BC:

     Crossing the Strait of Georgia was a piece of cake; it was a dead calm motor. We arrived in Pender Harbor late morning; that afternoon Tami flew home. I was so sad to see her go! Ralph and I got a surprise early in the evening: Liz came by! She had crossed the strait after us and was anchored nearby. While Ralph took a nap, Liz and I had a great visit.

Entering Pender Harbor, BC:

    Ralph and I motored up Malaspina Strait the next morning, with lots of wind dead on the nose…and entered Desolation Sound at 2:30 PM on June 18. We headed to Grace Harbor where we dropped anchor. Even though it was early in the season, the anchorage began to fill up. Ralph seemed overtly fascinated with the thousands of jellyfish in the harbor…kinda makes you wonder! The next day we left and did a bit of sailing in the sound and ended up in Prideaux Haven, off of Homfrey Channel.

Desolation Sound Views:

    We spent several days in Prideaux Haven; Ralph was not feeling well so we stayed put; besides it is a gorgeous location and the weather was fine! We spent time exploring the area in the dink, as well as relaxing. There were very few boats; it was peaceful, and of course gorgeous. We met a neat couple on “Willowa” (out of Portland, OR) and visited with them a bit. A month later I met them again, and had another lovely visit.
    On Saturday June 24, summer decided to start. The day dawned sunny and clear and we knew it was going to be HOT. The anchorage was starting to fill up for the first time. Ralph flew out in the morning and Cliff arrived in the afternoon. First words out of his mouth as he climbed out of the floatplane into the dink were:  ”retirement sounds better and better!” We had some beers and a snack and went exploring in the dink. HOT! Dinner in cockpit, stayed up late talking. It was the perfect “real” start to the summer’s cruising!

Prideaux Haven photos:

NEXT---------- Go to Part Two of 2006 Gunkhole Adventure
Go to Part Three of 2006 Gunkhole Adventure
Go to Part Four of 2006 Gunkhole Adventure
Go to Part Five of 2006 Gunkhole Adventure
Go to Part Six of 2006 Gunkhole Adventure

Go to Part Seven of 2006 Gunkhole Adventure

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