Welcome to Ocean Vagabonds! We are a family of nine who became disillusioned with the “American Dream”, sold everything, bought a sailboat and sailed her to Alaska. We are now working to outfit our boat Nadejda so that we can see where the wind leads us. We hope you enjoy our story as it unfolds.
Well as many of you may have noticed; maintaining our web page is not one of our strengths. Once again we have been struggling with the world of “social media” and weighing the time verses reward and how all that affects our family. I am sure this will not be the last struggle we have with it, but in all honesty much of our absence was due more to us living our lives and not having the time to put into it.
This post was originally going to be titles “Places Been, Lessons Learned” but after thinking about it I decided that the “Lessons Learned” part can wait for another article. So where have we been this winter, well, we went for a little boat trip to the lower forty eight to visit family and dispose of an old storage unit.
October found me (Peter) finished with work and the sun shining on Ketchikan, winds from the NW and holding. So we loaded up the boat and headed south….. well no we didn’t because in all of our wisdom we had forgot that Caleb now sixteen needed a passport So we spent our time in the autumn sun painting Nadejda, something that really needed to be done and waiting for a passport. The passport arrived in late October, so on November first we headed south, to our first stop in Prince Rupert, British Columbia.
When we arrived I hopped on the internet to see how the weather was shaping up for us. What I saw was discouraging to say the least, once again the fall storms were in the staging area of the north pacific and lining up to hammer NW coast. It felt a lot like last year when we made the decision to head back to Ketchikan as opposed to fighting the weather, but as I looked I saw a small opening to cross Queen Charlotte Sound (the next open to the ocean part of our trip) in about forty hours. So I laid out our course and found we had just enough time to make it if we ran straight through, so that is what we did. We arrived in Port Hardy, British Columbia with a storm on our heals and spent the next ten days holed up waiting for the weather to let up to get down the Washington coast.
I primarily use passage weather for most of my planning and supplement it with NOAA and Environment Canada. So when we saw a window opening up a week out we headed south to hopefully be in place to use it. One of our reasons for staying in Port Hardy as opposed to heading further south was due to the private Quarter Deck Marina had fantastic winter rates and we had already paid for a month there and didn’t feel like paying the more expensive rates further south. This run turned into a six hour on six hour off system in which we ran with the tide for six hours and anchored up for six hours waiting for the tide to change.
Our first leg was to Port Neville, on this leg we learned and had it confirmed on the way back that the currents do not match what is published in fact they are almost opposite (food for thought for any one thinking about cruising this area). After port Neville the currents are correct and we left at midnight to make it through Seymour Narrows at close to slack water. Just south of the narrows is where the tide meets on the inside of Vancouver Island so if one times it right you can have the tide with you for twelve hours, so that is what we did arriving in Deep Bay about sunset. We anchored up and waited for the tide change and then headed south to make an anchorage just south of Nanaimo around midnight. One more note here for people that have not been there, The Strait of Georgia can get really nasty so don’t take them lightly.
The next morning we weighed anchor and headed to Lady Smith to wait out a storm that was scheduled to run though the next day. We spent two nights there and after heading on to Port Angeles, Washington, then to Neah Bay for a night, it was then on to the Columbia River. And to our favorite little port on the west coast, Ilwaco, Washington; this would be our home port while we were on the Columbia.
We spent the next three months on the Columbia going as far up river as The Dalles, Oregon to visit family, it was interesting to be on our boat in the desert. We ended up spending a good amount of time roaming from one free dock to another and also visiting my brother in Vancouver. Those visits were great with our children and their cousins getting to know each other for the first time and really enjoying spending time together.
One of the best parts of moving around is the people, with very few exceptions you meet great people in every port. While in St. Helens, Oregon there was a Ranger Tug tied up there and as we walked by a young man waved to us. Later we were up at the city park overlooking the marina and a young woman was there walking a huge mastiff puppy (I think he may have been walking her, but that is beside the point). They along with her husband were the owners of the tug and we ended up talking and hanging out a few times while on the river. We never would have met them nor become friends if we did not live the way we do. Great times!
February found us anxious to start heading back up the coast and on to Alaska. So we started back up and basically reversed the order of the way down with the exception of stopping at the Nanaimo Yacht club for a couple of nights. We are now in Port Hardy and will be for about ten days waiting for weather to head north. We had originally planned on going up the inside and enjoying our selves but the weather window coming up Wednesday will be long enough to make it to Ketchikan and as the thought of being stuck in Prince Rupert waiting on weather is more than we care to take, we will shove off Wednesday and hopefully be home by Friday afternoon.
We learned a lot on this trip, mostly about our boat and what on it works and what does not, this will be covered in another post. I will also try and write about the towns we visited, the good, the bad and the ugly. There were definitely some we loved and some we did not, I will try and break it down for those who might be coming this way.
Last year, in yet another attempt to head south (let see I guess that made try number two) we discovered that our hydraulic steering ram was quite under sized and pretty much on it’s last leg. As we reached the southern part of Hecate Strait where it meets up with the Queen Charlotte sound we encountered SOUS (Seas of Unusual Size), now we could not see these monsters as it was completely dark so I believe some embellishment is allowed in such circumstances. At the time we were motoring into the wind as we watched our knot meter slowly creep to zero, it was relatively calm as we climbing these waves for up to a minute before falling off the other side three times (at least this part was consistent), burying our bow each time we dropped. Now while all this was going on I discovered that the rudder which was being loaded by the heavy seas could not be steered against them, to make matters worse the steering ram began to leak hydraulic fluid! It was time to turn and run for the inside passage and calmer waters. Read More
Unfortunately we have spent most of our life aboard Nadejda putting off projects that we want to complete when the boat is hauled out (preferably somewhere warm and dry) or when we can invest the money to do it right. Each year would find us making plans to go somewhere to achieve just that, but in the end they never came to fruition. Realization hit late this summer… that day my never come. Were we going to sacrifice the boat for ideal conditions? To save her we were going to have to work with what we had; sporadic sunny days in one of the wettest parts of the country, with our boat in the water, and putting money into the necessary systems, making do with the rest. Read More