#50 British Columbia

Eliana is on the move. It brings to mind the age old, unanswerable question... Which is more important, the journey or the destination? We're finding both in British Colombia. Before departing Sidney, my Dad (Wayne), his wife Florence and her sister Doris came aboard for the first few legs north. I am slowly realizing each step in the journey IS the destination. As sights and sounds unfold before us, we share them together. Just that once, never to be repeated again precisely in the same way.

As I write this, we are at anchor in Frypan Bay on Penrose Island just north of Cape Caution. No other boats in here. It's one of uncountable anchorages in thousands of miles of island and coastline. The beauty of British Colombia simply can't be described. How is it possible that pine trees grow prolifically on vertical granite mountain walls? We've heard there is almost no topsoil, that the roots weave into rock crevices and lichen. The shape of the land hasn't changed in thousands of years because it is solid rock. Abundant rain and sun support vegetation towering thousands of feet in the air. Towering waterfalls come seemingly from points higher than what we can see. On cloudy days, they cascade out of the clouds with the sound muted by trees and echoed by granite. Occasionally, a gravel slide will cause trees and all in it's path to pour into the ocean. Otherwise there is very little erosion, which makes for a naturally pristine ocean water.

I made a short, 2 minute video with highlights of the past few days. I put the link at the end.

Kwatsi Bay

Case in point is our last stop, Kwatsi Bay. We heard about Kwatsi from friends. It's located just off Tribune Channel on the eastern side of the Broughton archipelago. The tiny bay is surrounded completely by 4,000' tall, nearly vertical granite. Words, even pictures don't describe it.

Kwatsi Bay is blessed with a charming family who live there. Max and Anca have two children, Russell and Marieke. Since 1995 they have welcomed visitors to the bay with the warmest hospitality possible. There is some space to anchor, but they've constructed a float on logs in front of their home where a handful of boats can tie up. Through time they've added a small store and cabin. Max generates electricity with a water powered generator he built himself. Through necessity they are capably self-sufficient for all essentials. Port McNeal is two hours away by boat and otherwise their only neighbors are the bear, mink and otters.

Eliana resting in Kwatsi Bay. Click to enlarge.

Kwatsi Bay entrance.

Max and Anca's store.

Nearby waterfall. As we hiked to see it, Debbie was singing "Mares eat oats, does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy" at the top of her voice to ward off the bears. Ummm, none came.

The Cedar Tree

One evening, as a dockside potluck dinner was wrapping up, Jim Roby (a semi-permanent guest at Kwatsi Bay) offered to take us to a nearby place called Watson Cove to see if we could find the 'The Tree'. It's a cedar tree discovered back in the 1800's that is estimated to be 3,700 years old. This tree would have been alive in Moses' time! It's lived through millenia.

It was late in the evening and the sun was getting low. Jim knew where the tree was, but to be sure, we took Russell (Max and Anca's son) to show us the way. We hiked through timber, logs, underbrush and bog to find it. Debbie carried her air horn in case of a bear.

The tree was magnificent. A giant among the tall trees surrounding it. The forest was thick and dark enough there was no way to actually see the top of the cedar up through the canopy. But the base left no doubt about the credibility of the claim. We won't soon forget this tree and pray that 3,700 years is just the start!

Russell showing us the way to the tree. He grew up here and knows every square inch.

The Cedar Tree - 3,700 years old. Compare it to the 60 - 70 year old trees surrounding it. No point in taking a picture up. You can't see the top. Click to enlarge.

Pender Harbour (Fourth of July)

This year, since we were in Canada, we found ourselves celebrating Independence Day in conjunction with Canada Day. The celebration is nearly the same so we enjoyed the parades and fireworks of Canada Day. On the fourth, we found ourselves in Pender Harbour on the northern end of the Sechelt Peninsula. The weekend crowd had left so we had our own little party.

Fireworks I photographed from Eliana. This was on Canada Day, but for us it was our reminder of Independence Day. Notice there is a sailboat mast in this photo. Click to enlarge.

Eliana proudly flying Old Glory on the fourth.

Pender Harbour. A popular summer vacation spot for British Columbians.

Dad, Debbie, Florence and Doris at the Garden Bay Pub and Restaurant.

Underway Notes

So far we've found navigating the Inside Passage to be more technical than what we've seen in the past. The extreme tides and currents present a challenge, but it's more a matter of good planning than anything else. We have witnessed two incidents which hold important lessons for all of us. A 45' trawler entering the marina just behind us was swept into the breakwater rocks due to a 4 knot current across the entrance. Instead of establishing her approach from some distance out, she attempted to 'turn in' with the current on her stern. Later we saw a large yacht turned almost completely around in a swirling tidal eddy at the entrance of Seymour Narrows. No apparent damage there, but the danger was clearly marked on the chart.

The positive of cruising the Inside Passage is there is virtually no ocean swell or big waves (that we've seen yet). And if I haven't emphasized it enough, the scenery along the way is so breathtaking. This must be some of the most beautiful cruising anywhere.

Sunrise on Malaspina Strait. The sun's light is broken by the jagged mountain peaks behind. Click to enlarge.

Dad and I.

Approaching Seymour Narrows.

Johnstone Strait.

Barge traffic is common through here.

Logging stations like this one were also common along the way.

As we snaked through the various passes, I turned the display to 3D beforehand to help visualize what we were going to see. It really did help given this was our first time through.


Another lesson learned.... Yesterday, as we were underway the hydraulic oil temperature started rising. As we came to the anchorage and started the windlass, the temp alarm went off. We barely got the anchor set when it all shut off that quick. Starting at the cooling water intake, I verified there was ample sea water flow to the hydraulic driven Jabsco cooling pump. I opened the pump and looked at the impeller which appeared to be OK at first glance. Hmmm, what else could it be? I decided to replace the impeller anyway. After removing it, I found the impeller HAD actually failed and was no longer pumping. The fins had worn nearly through at the midpoint making them unable to hold any pressure. A new impeller immediately solved the problem.

Looking at the maintenance log, I had performed an annual inspection about 6 months ago and remember removing the cover, looking at the side and declaring it in good shape. Here are three lessons:

1. Inspecting an impeller means REMOVING the impeller completely to inspect it. Simply taking off the cover doesn't guarantee all is well.

2. The blue Globe impellers I use don't come apart like the black rubber ones do which is good because you don't have to go searching for rubber bits clogging up the heat exchanger, but just because the impeller looks intact doesn't mean it isn't worn out.

3. Now that I know the wear cycle, I have replaced the word "Inspect" with "Replace" on the annual maintenance instruction.

The worn out impeller. All the lobes are still on, but each one is worn to the point it had no spring left to pump.

That's all for now dear readers. Please visit our website with comments and questions by clicking on the link below. I appreciate the many encouraging comments we receive and if you have a question, I'll do my best to get it answered promptly right in the same comments section.

Also, be sure to view my video: Sights and Sounds of British Columbia - July 5 - 8, 2011.

Rick Heiniger

N7617 Eliana

Lying: Frypan Bay

Total Mileage: 5,580 Miles

Track Eliana


Blake Corbet 9/27/2011
Hi Rick, great journal. Did you every get to Desolation Sound Marine Park? If not, it is a must stop in the cruising grounds not far from Cortes Island...
Hi Rick, Nice tip on the impeller. Naughty little things. Mine is a pain to inspect and changing it instead of inspecting is a much better idea. Mark
Whitney Tipton 7/13/2011
SUBJECT: Re: #50 British Columbia Hi Rick! Love your well-written blog! That 3700 year old cedar tree is amazing! Reminds us all who is really in charge here --- Mother Nature! Was just chatting last night with a guy who is working as weather adviser and safety contact for 46' Vahalla -- they left Hawaii on June 28 and are 4 days out from Dana Point. They only have paravanes and apparently they snagged a free-floating fishing net along the way and actually bent one of their paravane arms. Isn't that wild? He said they are doing OK --- they took fuel bladders with them since at one point they were going into 30 knot winds and making only 3. And now they just have one paravane! Don't you love these Nordies? Getting ready to send our new Newsletter out announcing our new store and redesigned site! The marine supply business is picking up! Safe Travels to you guys.  Whitney
Janet 7/11/2011
Hi Rick and Debbie WE (Janet and Chris + x 4 kids) are from the prairies in Canada...(Kansas aka Saskatchewan!) We enjoy visiting the Pacific Northwest every summer and kayaking for 3-4 weeks... We have read every book on trawler travel that we can... Just wanted to let you know that we realated immediately to your trawler travel writing style and honest experiences. Your blog emails are now a very exciting part of our lives !! A real pleasure to read along with the fantanstic pics. Thank you very very much from the Exner family for all of your sharing. Take Care and God Bless, Janet
Grant T 7/11/2011
Rick (and Debbie), Another great post. What breathtaking scenery! The photo of Eliana at Kwatsi should be on the cover somewhere! It proves a Nordhavn can go anywhere. Your video was beautiful as well, and what a great time to be able to share it with your Dad. My Dad plied some of those same waters on his way to surveying the Alaskan Highway in the 50's. Thanks for sharing it. One question, what camera did you use to video, and were you using some kind of stabilization? Grant Hi Grant, I like to use the Canon 7D body with either the 70-200x2.8 or the 24-105x4.0 lens. The camera can do either stills or video at the flip of a switch. Yes, stabilization is critical since a tripod is impractical to use out here most of the time. So both lenses have built in stabilization which helps quite a bit. Then when I process the video, I can apply additional stabilization which all together does an amazing job of smoothing out those moments when I simply can't hold the camera still. Rick
Cedric Rhoads 7/10/2011
Rick, Fascinating and thought provoking, as always. We love the posts and hope that you'll continue them for a very long time to come. Two queries: 1) in looking at the wear points on the impeller, it appears that the outside diameter is a tad too large; perhaps the mfg's conversion (recommended part number) is incorrect? And 2) have you set any plans yet for the next passage? Clearly still some months of warm (ish) cruising left in the PNW, but what's next? Cedric Hi Cedric, Good observation on the wear pattern. You may have a point, but the new part slipped in just right and is pumping perfectly now. I'll recheck the wear pattern on the next change and see if it's the same. After leaving Alaska and BC on the way south, we plan to travel all the way to Panama with three major stops in California, Mexico and Costa Rica. Once on the Carribean side, we'll work out a plan for East Coast US. Stay tuned! Rick
Raymond 7/10/2011
Rick thank you very much for posting the pictures. I used to live in Gibsons Landing BC and the pics you posted brought me back in time.I have a brother that lives on a boat in Gibsons Landing and one that lives in Sechelt BC. I now live in Emerson MB, which borders with Pembina ND.The view is nothing like they have on the west coast, but we do have the Red River.Thanks again for your posting and enjoy the trip.
Vic, In answer to your second question... Our original teaching captain in Florida was Chris Day on a Grand Banks. That area had many entrances that were narrow and shallow. He taught to set up the approach some distance away, but line up with the intended path through the entrance. Then as the approach is made, to set the proper crab angle that corrects for wind and current. This was the technique I used in Campbell River and it resulted in about a 30 - 40 degree crab going in. Coming from the up-current direction, I'm not sure I could have gotten Eliana's stern around fast enough. Rick
Why can't the X#@%&^*X impeller be made out of ordnance-grade stainless steel, instead of jive-time rubber? That metal would never rust and never lose its temper, unlike myself, who routinely loses his temper when expensive machines are brought to a halt by cheap (?) parts that wear out, while endangering the lives of all those on board in the process? What am I missing here? IMO, planned obsolescence has no place in ocean-going equipment. Growllll...... When time permits, pls explain what you did that the 45' trawler behind you did not do. Did your bow & stern thrusters come into play while negociating that 4-kt current? Is that what made the difference? Spooky.... Hi Vic! Two good questions. The impeller must be flexible because the fins expand and contract to provide the pumping action. I actually love the Jabsco design because they operate simply and one wear part repairs virtually the whole pump. Our bilge pumps for example have quite a few moving parts and rebuilding is quite a chore. I gave this pump a complete overhaul in about 10 minutes! Changing the impeller is so easy and inexpensive, I don't know why I don't do it regularly and keep a new impeller in there all the time. I'll answer your other question with another comment because I hit the word limit.
JC 7/9/2011
Rick, Your impellar problem had me wondering if you use a monitoring system? (Krill, Simon, etc) Does the hydraulic system require/need a pressure and temperature monitoring? Having worked with hydraulic systems before we could see temperature rise as pressure reduced. Industrial systems. For Eliana I could imagine a monitoring system is money well spent, then again if you don't have one you did catch the issue without it. Enjoying your journey and destination adventure deskside for now, have a great summer. Hi JC, Eliana is not equipped with a Simon or Krill system. They do a great job of catching issues quickly although in this case the failure was immediately caught by the ABT alarm in the pilot house. It started with a gentle beep and light. I went down to see what was going on and found no cooling flow and the oil around 110F. Came back up and finished anchoring and just then it went into auto shut down. The hydraulic temperature normally varies up and down from about 85F to 95F. But when the impeller failed, the temp shot up through the 110F point to 145F almost immediately. Not a show stopper except for anchoring. I would have to shut off all hydraulic power which only affects stabilization until the oil cooled off enough to run the windlass. Until I spring for the full monitoring, I will continue to diligently monitor critical systems manually. And better yet, I plan to keep that impeller like new! Rick
Great Blog entry Rick. Maybe the frequency on that hydraulic cooling pump impeller should be semi-annual - it works pretty hard. Personally, i like the Globe impellers for the rare occasion that you start up the system with the suction valve closed. However, the failure mode on the Globes is that they melt if they overheat (about 15 minutes if run dry) rather than fall apart like the black impellers do (in about 5 minutes). Fabulous pictures. All the best to you and Debbie. Barry Kallander
Jim Wade 7/9/2011
Rick, If you put a blue globe impeller next to the black OEM impeller you will notice that the OEM impeller is better bonded to the shaft than the globe impeller. I had a globe fail by spinning on the shaft and after looking at the two side by side decided to go back to the OEM black impeller that I replace every season.