Screaming Fun


Had a super fast beat up Howe Sound north of Bowen and all the way to Keats Island.

The wind was funneling up Collingwood Channel, and with a reef in the main and the new 100% jib from North Sails, Madsu was flying.  Check that starboard side window and you can see the base of the stanchion awash on the lee side.

I’ve been playing with sail combinations since I got the new 60% and 100% jibs, and with the wind at around 18+ knots, this combination (single reef, 100% jib) was perfect.  Madsu was heeled about 25% and pushing to 35% in the puffs, but the helm felt just right and I screamed with delight when the GPS was showing consistent 6.4 and 6.5 knots SMG.

Madsu’s no rocket sled, but I did manage to (almost) keep up with a couple of 30 footers ahead of me (you can see them just ahead).   Ok, I didn’t keep up, but I didn’t get my clock cleaned either 😉

It wasn’t as windy or as rough as last week’s trip up the same bit of Howe Sound.  Highly recommend it for a good workout and some nice little surprises in the wind department.

It’s really tough to pull the Nikon out when I’m solo and beating into a breeze.  I keep the D70 in a waterproof bag just inside at the base the companionway, and I have slide forward enough to reach in an get it.  By the time I get to it, things have settle down considerably.  Maybe I’ll have to start shooting more with the waterproof pentax.


Dock’s Eye View


From the outside float, looking out into the Plumper Cove.

That yellow can marks a big rock, just off the float.

Years ago when I did my cruise and learn course, we did docking practise here.

The rock wasn’t marked then, and we did manage to hit it going dead slow, in a Banner 37.

Hiting a rock with the keel isn’t a sound you ever forget.


A Tad Damp on the Foredeck


With a reef in the main, and a brand new 60% jib from North Sails, Madsu’s doing 5.5 knots beating to windward, and slamming into some lovely waves.  Madsu’s in her favourite spot – heeled about 20 degrees with lots of power off the main, despite the reef.

Another sunny and warm day in Howe Sound, with a strong (southerly) inflow that started to lighten up around 3:00 pm.


When to Reef


One of the search terms I’m seeing here pretty regularly is ‘when to reef Catalina 22’.

There’s really no magic answer to this, but the boat will give you clear signals if you know how to read them.

The most obvious is excessive heel.  Madsu seems to have a sweet spot at around 20° of heel.  Up until that point, the boat is running efficiently.  Once she starts to heel more than that, potential speed decreases, even though it doesn’t always feel like it.  Keep in mind that Madsu is an older model Catalina 22 – narrower in the beam than MKII models.  She’s also a swing keel.

If you have a knot meter or GPS on the boat, you can easily see the results of reefing. Putting that reef in the main decreases heel and weather helm, and the boat actually goes faster than when it was on its ear.

Just when you’ll hit that spot on your Catalina 22 depends on your sail inventory, condition of your sails, and your trim.  Flattening the main and moving the centre of effort forward as the wind pipes up is the first thing to do.

Since I sail alone a lot, I tend to reef early, particularly when it comes to deciding whether to change head sails.

Reefing the main should be easy.  Heave to and practice it.

There’s nothing more satisfying than popping a reef in, flattening out the boat, then sailing past someone who’s heeled over like crazy.  Not that I’m competitive or anything.


Room with a View


I’m settled in on the port side settee reading Taras Bulba on my eBook.  I look up and am reminded why I love everything about cruising.

There’s the sailing of course; the exhilaration, challenge, even fear.  And then there’s the feeling you get after tucking in a nice meal at the end of a good day’s sail.

As the boat rocks gently on a mooring bouy, the sound of the water lapping on the hull is accented by eagle cries and the occasional screech of a  blue heron.

Madsu is far from luxurious, but sitting there, looking out through the companionway hatch, it sure feels like a million dollar view.


Let There Be Squalls

20090620_squallsSaturday morning squalls quickly blew through Howe Sound.

You’d never know it from this shot taken at 8:30 am, but the afternoon was mostly sunny.

Gambier Island is on the left in this shot.


Wet, Cold, Hungry and Tired. Now That’s Sailing


Two days away on Madsu, a short solo trip up to Plumper Cove on Keats Island.

Wind was basically inflow into Howe Sound, but loads of puffs and crazy gusts on the outbound trip made for a fast and furious ride, albeit in the sunshine. Madsu rarely made under 5 knots SMG, no matter what point of sail it seems.

Spent a rocky night at the Cove with the wind blowing in from the straight. Once again, Madsu was the smallest boat in the park – but looking sharp under her blue tarp and a foredeck full of sailbags.

Trip home this morning was outstanding – hit by three separate squalls and cracked 6.5 knots SMG on a close reach.  Frantic tiller/mainsheet work as boat went from flat to pinned in gusts, even with a reefed main and #2 jib.

Thankfully, now have my new North Sails foresails – made for a hairy and fun trip home.  Surprise  !  Not another sailboat in sight until I headed into Queen Charlotte Channel.  Squalls came complete with cold, horizontal rain and a few hailstones.  Still wearing shorts, but also had to don a toque and heavy foul-weather jacket for the ride.

No time for lunch or photos, just time for tiller and  trim.

Verdict:  when can I do THAT again.


Bring on the Tourists


Its been weeks since we’ve seen any kind of cumulus clouds in Howe Sound.

With a bit of a weather change the last couple of days, we’re seeing some lovely picture perfect cloud formations, like this one over Vancouver, framed in the foreground by Passage Island.

Weather here can be extremely localized.  When I left our house in North Vancouver, about 10 km away from where the boat is moored, it was drizzling slightly.  At Horseshoe Bay, it was all sun.

With a nice southerly at about 12 knots, Madsu was doing 5 knots SMG beating to windward, against the flood tide current, as we headed out to the Straight.


I’d Rather Be Doing – What ?


I finally got around to adding the GPS and MP3 player to my minimal companion way nav station.

The light for the compass is passed through the teak board and goes to a standard 2 pin car-hitch connector that I picked up at Lordco for about 3 dollars. I ran a lead off the house lights switch and it’s secured just inside the companionway.

Once I drop the board in, I just have to plug-in and I’ve got a lovely green glow from the compass for night passages.

The MP3 player plugs into a standard mini plug that goes to the house stereo system, and there’s a charger if needed. It plugs into a standard ‘cigar lighter’ plug I mounted inside out of the wet, just to port. that   I usually run the GPS on its rechargeable batteries, but also have a DC plug I can use that goes to the same charge plug.

I had wanted to mount my handheld Icom VHF  (IC-M72) on the board, but its electronics cause a huge amout of compass deviation when it’s within 8 inches or so, so it’ll stay in my lifejacket pocket.

I had thought about adding a bungee strip to hold my cell phone, but mostly I turn it off once I leave the dock 😉


Point Atkinson


The Point Atkinson light, shot with a 400 mm Nikkor VR lens.