As mentioned in our previous blog, one of the reasons we headed to Gorge Harbour was to meet up for a Commodore’s Rendezvous in Gorge Harbour with the Bluewater Cruising Association (Vancouver Island Chapter). The other reason was to also to spend a week in Desolation Sound.
We arrived in Gorge Harbour on August 25th and during the next few days as part of the Commodore’s Rendezvous we met some interesting people, some who have sailed around the world, sailed the Pacific, and some whose dream is similar as to ours, which is to sail… someday! We also learned a lot from the people we met and made some great connections. It is just too bad we could not do it more often as the Bluewater Cruising Association holds frequent rendezvous in and around Vancouver Island and offers many courses that would be helpful in adding to our knowledge base for cruising and offshore sailing. Over the weekend, we starting seeing more and more people show up for the rendezvous with more and more boats anchoring ever so close to us in the harbour.
Friday was the first get together for the early arrivals and we all met at the organizer’s dock for a lovely potluck dinner and ended up of course discussing boats. On Saturday, some of us got together early to hike the Whaletowns Commons, which offers several short loop hikes through dense, verdant forest populated by several beautiful old growth cedars along Whaletown Creek. It’s the perfect place for an easy walk before a big pig-roast. Following the hike, we had an opportunity to view some of the wares provided by local enterpreneurs of Cortez Island at the farmer’s market. Rob spent most of the morning working on the boat on little projects that needed to be done for our trip before going to Desolation Sound.
The pig roast was a great event and I believe there were about 50 people from around the island with boats ranging from 28 feet to 50 feet with the oldest sailor being just shy of 75 years old and the youngest being 15 years old.
On Saturday we also had our first of several rough weather nights where we spent the evening swinging around and bouncing in up to 30 knot winds. We had two Beneteau’s anchored right in front of our bow, during one of the high wind periods we watched them dancing around their anchors nearly hitting each other while our Westsail slowly moved back and forth on our anchor. Amazing, but it made for a bit of a nervous evenings! Several people left their anchorages and moved to the Gorge Harbour Marina.
Sunday was a final get together at our host’s home for those who wanted to hang out over coffee and a delicious breakfast while some of the more intrepid sailors took off in the 20 knot winds to head home. We were able to wave off several of the sailors from our host’s deck while contemplating whether we should leave and head straight into the wind. Following breakfast, Rob and I went over to the Gorge Harbour Marina and hiked the Whaletown Commons again. During our walk, Rob and I had a serious discussion on our future and whether it should include Blue Tale. We started this discussion before we arrived on the boat talking about the fact that even though Blue Tale was big enough for the two of us as a 32 foot boat, we had a hard time convincing our family and friends to visit, or just have people over for entertainment, as the boat is a wee bit small. We also discussed whether Blue Tale would be the perfect boat for us long term especially when we want to move onto a boat and live on it full time for the next 20 or so years. Yes, we have not done much sailing with Blue Tale except for our year off and only sailed within and along the Inside Passage, but we both agreed that we need a little bit more space.
On Monday, we said goodbye to our old and new-found friends, filled up with fuel at the Gorge Harbour Marina switching valves to draw fuel from the port tank instead of the starboard tank and motored through Gorge Harbour. This is when we started to wonder if Blue Tale was upset with us as we started talking about selling her! As soon as we excited the gorge and had the Guide Islets to our port-quarter, the motor started to make funny noises, choked a couple of times, and then died on us. Rob instantly went below to see what was wrong while I slowly steered us with the current to Shark’s Spit. Rob, after checking that everything looked normal, that no fuel was leaking and tried to fire up the motor several times, made the eventual decision to call for assistance. I was still making sure that we stayed away from the shoreline. We did not have to wait long before the manager from Gorge Harbour Marina came along with a tender and was able to tie along side us and use his motor to bring us back into Gorge Harbour while I used the tiller to steer and eventual tie along the marina dock.
Rob immediately went below after chatting with the dock master about the potential causes and started to pull apart the filters, fuel lines, etc. but nothing seemed to work. A diesel mechanic came over and chatted with Rob about the potential causes as well and told us that the problem is usually with the fuel line system and not necessarily the engine as diesel engines are pretty robust. We finally decided to switch back to the starboard fuel tank as that was really the only thing we didn’t try. After several attempts, the engine started up again and we ran it for several minutes. We then switched over to the port fuel tank and the motor seemed to be fine and worked for several minutes. We decided to stay the night and talk to a few more sailors to see if we may have resolved the problem and to recuperate from a stressful morning.
Of course the following morning was met with fog and we could not leave because of the weather. The next morning on Wednesday, we left the dock early and started to motor to the gorge entrance and it was not even within 500 metres away from the dock when the motor started making funny noises and died on us again. Seriously!!! Fortunately, a motorboat owner saw us and came over with his dinghy and brought us back to the marina.
Rob went down below again and checked everything and it all seemed to be in order. However, when Rob switched over the fuel tanks back to the starboard side, we heard this air sucking noise. This is when we figured that air was not getting into the port side tank when we had the engine running, probably causing a vacuum in the tank. To test our theory we switched back to the port side fuel tank and ran the engine for about five minutes. Once we switched back to the starboard side fuel tank, we heard the air sucking noise and we figured that there was a blockage somewhere that was causing the issue with respect to the engine failing on us. We decided that we would only use the starboard side tank until we could figure out what the cause of the blockage was.
September 1st we tried again and left early from the dock. We motored around Gorge Harbour for about 30 minutes before we felt comfortable enough to leave the safety of the harbour. We slowly moved through the gorge and breathed a sigh of relief when our motor did not fail on us. We were off to our next adventure with Blue Tale.~Sophia & Rob