In addition to my wonderful family, I count among my blessings being the owner of a Fleming 50 (hull #8), "Lady Laura". This is the oldest boat I've ever owned, (20 years old now as of this writing) but it has also been the most wonderful.
This last summer, we took her to Alaska (my first trip there). I can't say that I'm eager to go back, as we had an unbelievable number of days of rain, and with two kids and a dog aboard, we were a little stir crazy. Still, we had a good time, and you can read about our adventures in my public blog.
Prior to the Fleming 50, I owned a 46 Grand Banks, a 36 Grand Banks, and, for a brief time when getting into boating, a 27 foot Maxum. I quickly learned that I didn't want to go 40 knots, pound in rough seas, and refuel every day.
In my work life, I'm the primary architect of the Coastal Explorer Network. As a Rose Point staff member, I also enjoy trying out the latest versions of our software and hardware as I'm out cruising.
In addition to work and boating with my family, I also enjoy alpine skiing, bicycling, and hiking.
garth's latest blog entry
Of the various parts of the trip to Alaska, the one that inspires the most concern for most boaters is the crossing of Queen Charlotte Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound. These bodies of water are exposed to the open ocean and can be notoriously uncomfortable, even on a calm day. On the way up, we didn't have too much problem here, as the winds were calm, but then again I had Mike Johnson, who had done the trip a hundred times, to make the decisions. On the way down, I was listening to the forecast carefully, hoping to avoid anything too rough.
We decided to leave Duncanby / River's Inlet once the forecast sounded fairly tolerable, and we headed out to sea, knowing we could turn around and come back if it was too bad. We called for information on channel 16 regarding winds near Egg Island, which is in the north half of the crossing, and a polite reply came back that winds were calm and seas not a big deal, only a couple feet of chop. With increased confidence, we plowed ahead.
Once we got to Egg Island we were in 3-4 foot lumpy seas and 15 knot winds, which is a bit uncomforable but not dangerous. We talked to the gentleman that gave us the report before, and he said something like "oh, yea, well, this is pretty calm to me, I've crossed in 50 knot winds before". Apparently he was a retired commercial fisherman who spent his life in this area regardless of weather conditions, and felt like today was just fine. We made a mental note to ask everyone that gave us a weather report of they were commercial vessel operators or pleasure-boaters before trusting that their meaning of "calm" and "easy" would match ours.
As we continued southward, the swell increased but also lengthened, and the chop died down, and we ended up with 5-6 foot lazy swells that moved the whole boat up and down without causing us much roll. It was really quite comfortable, and continuing southward lengthened out the waves even more until it was like we were in calm water that happened to rise and fall every 10 seconds or so.
We had intended to stop at Port Hardy, the northernmost major port on Vancouver Island, but decided instead to continue south to Port McNeill, as we had heard about the great services they had within walking distance of the marina. On arriving at Port McNeill, we couldn't raise the marina on the radio, and we were getting concerned that we would be anchoring out, but upon investigating the fuel dock, we found that the owners of the fuel dock had just opened a new marina with many hundreds of feet of dock space. It's not advertised well, but the people were very nice.
This new marina doesn't have a clear name yet, but Steve Jackman, the Manager, is currently calling it "The Port in McNeill, PLUS". He got the idea because of the other "PLUS" named businesses in Port McNeill, like the local grocery store, which is "IGA Plus". Steve also owns/manages the local auto parts store, the laundromat. His latest project is renovating an old movie theater and turning it into a multi-media entertainment venue -- used for concerts, movies, etc. He's quite an enterprising young man, and gets hospitatily well, having had spent a stint as manager of the Longhorn Saloon in Whistler, BC. Steve invited us and our kids up to play video games on the screen in the theater later in the day.
The 13th was our Anniversary. In addition to cards & flowers, we celebrated with a nice dinner out while Brian and Molly stayed on the boat. We also took a trip to Alert Bay, BC, which is primarily run by first nations tribal members. We visited the Alert Bay Ecological Park, which is a set of peaceful trails through wetlands near the top of the hill. We also visited the U'mista cultural center and big house.
On our final day in Alert Bay, Laura went shopping -- the groceries were delivered to the boat by a mini-tractor pulling a cart (see photos). We ended taking Steve Jackman on his invite to play video games on the movie theatre screen. We played a flight simulator and car driving game before ending up with a boxing game. Brian was Muhammad Ali, and Garth was Sugar Ray Leonard. Watching the two characters beat the crap out of each other on a 42 foot screen was engaging, for sure!