Rough Bay Walk

Low Water
High Water

Sunday 21st April

Cold & Rainy, yet I hear it’s unusually hot in the UK for an Easter weekend. 

Fixed the shower sump pump, dismantled it, put it back together and it worked, no idea what was wrong.


More great radio, after a week of programmes on mental health issues, many quite harrowing stories, we have moved onto climate change debates. A great story tonight about Sudbury, now a lovely green city which was once a Chernobyl style hellhole in Ontario. Devastated by extensive Nickel mining with huge piles of sulphur waste that killed off everything in the area. A great example of industry working with residents to help each other. Other phone ins pitting youngsters against older people living in mining towns. One young teenager was saying “But we might all be doomed if we don’t act now quickly”, and a mining resident replying, “ I agree, but why should we do anything when the Chinese aren’t, and what about our jobs”. I can see this isn’t going to be easy.

Later Adam Cohen, son of Leonard was on, he sounds just like a younger version of his dad, a few thousand more Gitannes and you won’t be able to tell the difference. He was lovely and is releasing more of his fathers material that hasn’t been heard before. 

I took a long walk in the rain today, such great scenery here, even in the rain, I love the individuality of every building. I still haven’t taken the ferry over to the main Island yet, perhaps this week. 

I have noticed that one of the reasons for the wifi getting weak/strong is due to the big tides. The boat is so low, I lose site of the office aerial at low water.


Randy, who has the gill netter (a kind of fishing boat) over on the next pontoon shouted over that if I liked crabs he was going to be cooking a few later and I should pop over. He had cooked a load he had caught earlier that day and I confessed to my ignorance of crab eating etiquette, Ron from ‘Ron’s fishing trips’ who has a big motor launch next to Randy offered to teach me, He took a cooked crab and smashed its back on the edge of the pontoon, then ripped out the lungs, and the washed them under the tap. He told Randy that he had cooked them all wrong, but Randy shot back that Ron was from Alberta and how would he know anything about fish! A lively debate ensued, and Ron promised to get me some properly cooked Crabs. All the same they were very tasty.


I have spent most of my time this week writing SQL queries and knitting it into web sites.  I had finished most of the work before I came out, but the customer asked for a load of changes at the last moment. It’s kind of OK because it’s been so cold and windy I haven’t been able to do any outside jobs anyway. And it pays for even more luxury down the road. 

I’m making notes about all the jobs I need to do on the boat, a big one I’m looking at is re-wiring to make the boat work well on 110v or 240v as we have a hacked system now but as I’m not likely to see 240v shore power power for a year or more, it seems best to get the 110v working so I can have the heater and the toaster and the kettle all on at once.

The barometer has been around 1035 for a few days now, I have never seen that before, crazy high by my standards. 


Took the ferry to Port McNeil today, gave myself two hours to do the shopping and ended up running for the ferry back, only to find it delayed by 30 minutes. It was great to see such a choice of food in the big supermarket. There’s a small chandlers there as well, which was quite well stocked.

Fri/Sat, more programming, with a trip to the Finnish baker for a fresh sourdough loaf. He seemed to really appreciate my comments on how nice his fresh bread was, almost as if I was the first to complement him. He also makes great ciabatta rolls. On the way back I called into the Co-Op hardware store, a branch of the main co-op downtown, a really good range of boat spares, very impressive for such a small island.

The local (only) hardware store, great use of scrap iron

More CBC Radio 1 and a great program called Ideas that featured a women called Gareth Peirce who is a 79 year old female  English solicitor and human rights activist. She spoke very powerfully about some terrible breaches of human rights and international laws/treaties being carried out by governments, including sadly, the current British government.


More people are arriving every day and opening up their boats, getting ready for the new season. Today actually felt like spring, still chilly, but possible to sit in the cockpit and work.

This morning the radio had a program explaining the problem with relying on quantum physics, and how we have to face up to the reality that great as it is, we are probably missing the point. I’m sure we would all agree with that (could do with a puzzled looking emoji here). 

Either the radio is showing off, or they’re all dead clever here.

People are getting flooded out all over Eastern Canada right now, and they are talking about relocating whole communities away from flood plains and rivers.  Some people who were flooded last year, repaired and rebuilt as they were told it was a ‘one in a few hundred year event’, but because it’s now happened two years in a row there’s lots of talk of Climate change being responsible. I think this is bad science, but great publicity for the cause. 

I uploaded the pictures in higher resolution than normal, as I had some good internet in the week. But I think WordPress is throttling the size back and I can’t be bothered learning how this all works, but hopefully you will get a feel for how lovely the bay is here. I had a great walk around taking the snaps one evening this week.

Paul Collister

The School Bus
Buskers in the car park
Serious fishing
Hiding in the bushes
Every garden has a boat here
Ready for a quick get away should the waters keep rising.

I find this new version of wordpress much harder to compose posts than I’m used to. hence a big block of pictures.

Monday 29th April.
I tried to post this yesterday, but no internet, so today I went downtown, the shop was shut, the cafe closed too, no internet available anywhere, but by the time I got back to the harbour, there was a decent wifi signal present, so I did a bit of work and posted this blog. It’s like summer today, so I have a few hours left, I’m going to rip the rest of the steering out now.

Paul Collister, Sointula.

Sunny Sointula

Thursday 18th April.

I had planned to get the ferry to the big city today (well the slightly larger village over on the bigger island). I wanted to stock up for Easter, but it’s raining so hard I put this off until Saturday.

I have spent the last two days writing code, I decided that it was best to get all the leftover bits from the work I was doing back home finished so I could focus on the boat jobs. Also the weather isn’t conducive to working outside.

One job I did do was the leak in the galley. In very heavy rain or big seas water was dripping onto the worktop by the fridge. I had a similar leak on the last baba and it was a sod to fix. The water was coming in miles away and travelling along a secret route, known only to a select clan, of which I wasn’t a member. For this reason I have ignored the leak for over two years now. It was just after a very heavy downfall that I was feeling smug about how all my efforts back in Asia to reseal the chainplates and other fittings had paid off and the boat was so dry when I noticed a big puddle at the fridge and remembered that annoying leak. So I dismantled the headlining to inspect the area for clues as to the secret route this water might be taking, maybe there might be stains leading me to the problem. I couldn’t see anything so had a look directly above the drips on the outside of the boat for inspiration. Right in the spot above the leak was a 3mm hole drilled by Toshi, the previous owner. To say I was gobsmacked is understating things. How had I missed that. To be fair, it had been the route of a small power cable he had added to power a light in the spray hood, the sealant around the wire had failed. I yanked the wire out, cut it off, and then filled the hole with some epoxy. Job done, It’s been chucking it down ever since and not a drop has come in!!
The moral of that story is not to overthink some problems, often it’s a lot easier than you might realise. 

We plan to be in Mexico for Christmas, that’s roughly 2500NM south and back north a little into the Sea of Cortez. If we average 100NM/Day we can do it non stop in 25 days. Say all of November, so really there’s no great panic about anything now, we will likely leave at the start of August and have a leisurely trip down the coast. This is different for me, as since I bought the boat, there have been multiple deadlines to meet, most of them I created to force myself to get the jobs done in time for the passage across the Pacific to North America. Everything is more relaxed, and a lot more pleasant now. I’m enjoying the boat jobs more without the pressure. Having a day where I just read is now possible without any guilt.

It seems the antenna that sends the wifi out over the marina broke during the winter, so I offered my services to go on the office rooftop and fit a new one, however another boater living onboard here also offered the same, so shortly we plan to take the task on together and restore service. This I need to do as I just found out I can’t top up my pre-paid phone card unless I have a Canadian bank account or Canadian Credit Card. Great as I have used up 2.8gb of my 3gb monthly allowance in the first week. Data seems such a requirement these days, it’s worse for me because I need it for work, but I’m hoping I can reduce my dependancy on it, especially once we hit the South Pacific, where I expect it to be very sparse.

I’m picking up a bit of wifi that leaks out of the office, but it’s very slow. We did have AT&T USA SIM cards that worked great in Canada, however I forgot to top it up in January from the UK and it expired. I bought a new one online in the UK, from an eBay seller, but it was too old to be activated so proved useless. I have just order a new one online, via amazon, with a next day free delivery option, but once my postcode went into the system, the delivery time went up to 14 days!, that’s confusing as FedEx got my 25kg Anchor from Portsmouth to the boat in about 5 days! And this SIM card can be sent in an envelope from Toronto.  Well I’m not that bothered as I have a stack of books I really want to read and the internet is such a distraction.

CBC Radio1 continues to produce fantastic programmes. Last night Kieran Conway read from his book about life as an IRA freedom fighter/terrorist. Fascinating to hear his motives and a side of the story that never got a lot of press back in the UK. Alberta has a new party in control, and populism seems strong there, great debates about the climate v oil pipelines, Alberta has oil & gas reserves, but has Quebec and BC on either side, both anti fossil fuel growth, and of course First Nation issues make most news programmes. I’m slowly starting to understand the provincial/federal politics here, a central government based on a model very similar to Westminster, but a provincial model closer to that of the USA, somehow working well together.


Flooding is expected in Quebec, the man from the rescue services was telling people to get out now, he said “unless you have a row boat tied to your porch, you won’t have a way out when the time comes” 

Downtown was gorgeous today, warm, bright sunshine, cherry blossom just starting to appear. Interestingly the Vancouver newspaper I have been reading had a map showing every cherry blossom tree in Metro Vancouver, and the trees in my last blog happened to have been given to the city by the Japanese in 1958, I presume it wasn’t related to my arrival on the planet that year 😉 

It was so hot, I felt I should do some work today, so I have stripped down the steering pedestal, and cleaned it all up. The next step is to disconnect the cables from below and remove the ‘Adjustable Idler’ as I now know it is called. 

More great radio (there is only one station here), however I have found one aspect a bit annoying, and that’s if you miss a program then you only need to wait a day to hear it repeated, and should you miss that, it’s probably repeated the following day. Given that a lot of the programs have quite intense stuff, I’m often reaching for the mute on the remote. Saturday night brings a show by Randy Bachman, yes he of Bachman Turner overdrive fame (sorry kids, he was back in the day). His show has ok music but interesting stories relating to a lot of the artists he plays. But what is it about Canadian rock stars from that period, I’m thinking here of Neil Young as the other guy, who just can’t seem to accept the world has moved on since their heyday. What with Neil young wanting to replace MP3’s with something of higher quality, and Mr Bachman wanting Rolling Stone magazine to go back to a print edition and abandon their online publication! 

Just had a shower, tip number 1, always test the shower sump pump before you fill the shower with water. This is the third pump that has failed in the last 6 months, they are all quite old, but at £200+ each, I’m going to be broke soon at this rate. 

Happy Easter

Paul Collister

Settled in

There’s not going to be a lot happening for at least 2 months as I’m not going anywhere until late May/June, just slowly working on the boat ready for the next trip to Mexico. I’m going to keep a blog going as a diary for myself and Kathy, something to read when I hit the nursing home 😉

Friday 12th April 2019

I spent most of the day cleaning the shower cubicle and head(toilet), exciting stuff eh. It took a bit longer than I hoped for because the toilet pump had been leaking so I took it apart to try and fix it, however the drip of sea water from it, that we had been putting up with for the last year or so became a steady flow after my repair. Plumbing isn’t really my thing, especially seals. Anyway rather than order new parts, I checked the spares bag and found a brand new seal, perfect, no more leaks. I was very pleased with myself for having a spare, but did wonder why I had put up with the leak for a year or more. I was even more disappointed when I remembered one of my jobs is to replace the head with an electric one this year.

I also dug out the electric heater we have had on board since I bought the boat. It’s 110V USA style, so hadn’t been of much use elsewhere, so as the shore power is supplied on a ‘as much as you can eat’ basis, I thought it was worth a try, the boats heater uses a fair bit of diesel. Sadly the heater fan didn’t work, so I thought I would see if it could be repaired. Even sadder, I enjoyed dismantling the heater, then the fan, then the motor driving the fan, then the bearing at the end of the motor. Amazingly after re-assembly, it worked well. So for just 2 hours of my time, I had saved a heater from the skip. Probably not a good deal, but fun.

I’m listening to Canada radio and they just had an appropriate joke.

Three men in a liferaft adrift in the middle of the ocean.
A bottle drifts alongside them and they grab it, once opened a genie pops out
“I will grant you each a wish” says the Genie.
The first man says, “please get me home to my family”, and in an instant he is whisked away to his family.
The second man asks for the same and also disappears to his family.
The last man says, “I don’t have any family, and I’m really lonely now, can you bring my two mates back please”!

The boat is quite tidy now, I cleaned up the quarter berth on Friday and took the opportunity to inspect the rear of the boat behind the engine, from the inspection hatch in the quarter berth. I spotted some damage to the steering system, basically a fastening that holds part of the pulley that guides the steering cable had rusted and started to rip apart. This is a real pain, I’m going to have to take the steering apart, and then remove the steering pedestal to release the plate with the rusty part. To dismantle it will take a few hours, and the same to put back together, plus I won’t know if it can be repaired until I get it all out, If I’m smart, and mark the plate correctly, I can probably get the whole thing welded up locally. It has to be done, as if it falls completely, I may well lose the ability to steer, and this kind of failure only happens when navigating past an expensive yacht in a marina.

I managed to get the bikes up and running, but I soon found out how unfit I had become sitting at a desk for the last 6 months.

Saturday 13th

The co-op which is the main store here closes at 5:30 until Tuesday, so I headed on down at lunchtime in order to get some proper supplies for the weekend. I had just put a loaf into the trolley when the lights went out. Power was out, possibly to the whole Island. The lady on the till shut the shop, put the closed sign up and explained the main till was down, but the other till was ok for cash only and would run for a short while until it’s battery ran out. I quickly filled my trolley with a few more items, made it to the till just as it shut down. That was it, we were all kicked out of the shop. I asked a lady outside how long I could expect to wait for the power to come back, she told me it used to take one to two weeks, but these days it could be fixed a lot sooner. She pointed to a huge dead seagull in the middle of the road under the power lines and explained to me that was the culprit, and the cause of the loud bang a few minutes earlier. 

A trip over the road to the petrol station showed they had no power, and wouldn’t sell me anything, odd really as I had cash, but without the till running they couldn’t serve me. Next I tried the baker, next to the co-op, he had power, he claimed he had a secret supply, he’s Finnish and I’m not quite sure he was telling the truth, but he sold me some bread, and a few cans of soda. Apparently the first chance of power returning is when an engineer might arrive on the next ferry so I will have to wait and hope for the best. Fortunately, we have a ton of tinned Japanese tuna and pot-noodles to keep me going.

Arriving back to the boat I found myself catching the middle of a program on Canada Radio CBC R1, “It’s important that the clitoris is stimulated by the penis” announced the presenter, I listened for a while to x rated detailed explanations before it became clear he was talking about Dolphins mating! It turns out they have a lot more fun than was previously thought, thinking about it, they do always seem to have a smiley face when they swim alongside us. Later on they did get onto sport proper, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear a program about the mathematical basis of Wimbledon’s ‘long play’ game, and how it worked well for a while, but was later shown to be mathematically flawed. All this in just a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon. I spent the whole afternoon listening to CBC radio whilst continuing to clean the main cabin and bookshelves, I’m very impressed, they had a great show about the importance of vaccinations, focussing on a women who caught measles on a trip to London, followed by another slot urging people to get sign up as organ donors with some great stories reinforcing the importance. 

A trip back to the co-op at 17:00 found the seagull removed and the power restored. The man at the co-op asked me if I had a number, I believe it’s normal for all islanders here to be members of the co-op and you give them your number at the till, I’m not sure why, I was told you don’t get a discount. My mum worked for the Co-Op in Moreton for many years, as I recall members got stamps which you gave to the nerdy child in your family (me) who meticulously stuck them into saving books. Presumably when you had enough full books you could claim a free onion or suchlike.

Sunday 14th

Double fried eggs on toasted sourdough bread, made by the Finnish baker with fresh coffee made for a delicious breakfast. Again the radio didn’t disappoint with a long in depth program about abuses by the Catholic Churche’s priests here in Canada. 

The next task was to make a list of jobs to do. I have been putting this off for a while, as experience tells me that a list of boat job tasks can never be completed. This list will in effect outlive me, and I hate starting something I won’t complete. Anyway, as it turns out, I surprised myself by just how many jobs I had already completed en route here. The list seems completely manageable, of course it won’t be. The main tasks I have are 

1) Engine Jobs: Fix water pump seals, weld up or replace oil cooler, Tidy up wiring and weld up steering pulleys.

2) Inside jobs: Fix deck wash pump & fresh water pump, Service water maker, Rewire mains side for 120/240V, Fit new radar, clean check chain plates.

3) Deck Jobs: Lots of varnishing, new Bow Platform, repair cockpit seat hinges, repair monitor steering, replace gas hose and fittings, repair gelcoat on cabin top where dinghy wrecked it.

4) Hull: Clean and polish

5) Haulout: Antifoul and replace anodes, hull, prop and bow thruster. Buy liferaft (should have done this last item before we left Japan, don’t tell Kathy)

Looking more closely at the problem with the steering made me realise it’s a massive job to get the broken bracket (for want of a better description) out of the boat, as a load of cables pass through a hole in it, steering, throttle,gear change, gps, bow thruster controls, power, and another fat cable I’m looking forward to finding out where it goes as I don’t think we have been acquainted yet.

underneath the steering wheel pedestal
The steering problem

The weather seems similar to back home from what Kathy tells me, cold most of the time, and not that spring like. When the clouds lift here it’s lovely, with snow capped mountains in the distance.

I spotted a lot more trees that have been washed up and tied to the shore at high tide to stop them escaping. This is the kind of thing we need to keep an eye out for when on the water.

The boat is finally cleaned up and very cosy now. I have a snippet of free wifi, and have spent today doing programming work, the boat jobs can wait a bit. I fired up the SSB yesterday and that seems to be working fine, but there’s lots of static out there.

Paul Collister

Back on the Boat in Canada

Well here we go again, I’m back on the boat and blogging. However the harbour I’m in doesn’t have wifi at the moment, which is a pain. I’m using my phone, and trying to limit my use, I have about 100Mb / day, but have used 300 in my first 2 days here. We shall just have to take it easy. I actually like the idea of limiting my internet time, and perhaps I can do some proper reading now.

So I left the UK on Tuesday morning, my brother Simon kindly drove me to the airport at Manchester where I flew direct to Toronto. I flew Air Transat, which is a bit of an Easyjet operation, basic, but just fine for an 8 hour trip. I managed to sleep a little. Once at Toronto I had to kill 4 hours before we headed off to Vancouver. Because Toronto was my port of entry, I had to haul my bags through customs/immigration, but I was very pleased how organised the whole thing was, I was interrogated by a customs computer terminal, and when it took my picture to compare with the passport, the camera snaked around to get itself at just the right height to inspect me, a little unnerving, this is how the robots are going to get us I expect, we think we are in control, but they already now where we are and soon they will control all the locks!

I was later stopped by a human who asked me why I had told the computer I had booze to declare, being a non drinker I was surprised, and said I must have pressed the wrong button, she happily waved me on and I found a nice desk with power/usb and free wifi from where I could do a little work.


I worked flat out for most of the time I was in the UK, and I managed to save enough to allow me to cruise for a few more years without worrying too much about the cost. I still have a few more bits of work to finish, but I can do that from the boat at a more leisurely pace.  I’m expecting to spend the next few years heading south then across the pacific to New Zealand, so I will almost certainly be selling my flat back home, or maybe renting it out. The income from that should cover my costs while I’m sailing.

Soon enough we were boarding the flight to Vancouver. It left at 19:30 and arrived just before 10pm, with the 8 hour time difference it meant we landed at 6AM UK time, I slept for most of the 5 hour flight, but the jet lag was now getting to me. A quick trip to the hotel, and I was in bed asleep.

Wednesday morning I slept in as late as I could, then headed off to explore this part of town, I was out by the airport in-between Oakfield and Richmond, quite a leafy suburb, and the cherry blossom was full on, I only thought to take a picture after I had passed the best displays.

I visited the Oakfield , or was it Oakridge? Shopping mall, had a good play on the new MacBook Air, but can’t justify buying one yet, this five year old model I’m using now is still working great, despite being dropped a few times. I’d love to have an excuse to upgrade, mainly for the Retina display, but I just can’t justify it. While in the mall, I bought some basic supplies for dinner ( bread/butter/parma ham/cheese) from Safeway. I also bought a pre-paid virgin mobile SIM card, 3gb/month for $45 CAD/Month, which is about £25/month. 

At 4pm I called for a cab from the hotel to get to Vancouver South airport terminal, this is the smaller terminal on the edge of the river that caters for small planes and float planes, the cab took forever to turn up, with me starting to worry I might be late for checkin, but as usual I was early and ended up waiting for an hour before we boarded the small plane. As I boarded the pilot was at the outside at the stairs, and saw me looking at my boarding pass, he assumed correctly I was looking for a seat number, and explained I could sit anywhere, but then pointed to his seat at the front and said, except there 😉

As we flew out it was striking to see the colour change in the water, you can see in the image it looks like land, but it’s just a change of colour in the water caused by the underlying terrain/seabed. I have sailed through such changes, once just before reaching Singapore , and it’s quite worrying.

Later we flew over many of the places we sailed around last year, I love trying to spot the places from their shape.

I saw Nanaimo and Dodd narrows which I remembered well, I could also see false narrows, which from above looks like a safer route, but is deceptively shallow. Hence the name I expect.

We flew past Hornby Island which was rammed with boats in tribune bay when we visited it last year, you can just make out the long straight beach. 

Finally we flew past Malcolm Island, I could just make out the harbour but we were too far away to make out any boats.

This picture was meant to show the runway dead ahead, I had a ‘pilots eye’ view as we came into land, I must say it reminded me of the early versions of Microsoft’s flight simulator, but scarier. You get to see a lot more forest harvesting from a plane, but it seems to be managed very well here, and most of this is second growth anyway, and will be very responsibly re-planted I understand.

A taxi was waiting for me at the airport and 30 minutes later a very interesting  Berber Algerian driver dropped me off at Port McNeill where I had to kill 90 minutes before the ferry arrived. I saw a very very sad Tayana 40 in the marina, there was another large yacht (42ft+) there with a goosewing boom setup, very interesting, the mast had no shrouds at the side at all, but what might have been a running backstay. I must find out more.

30 minutes on a very pleasant ferry ride saw me stepping ashore in Sointula, I was hoping I might get a lift to the boat from a passing car, but no luck, it was now late, very dark, and all the cars were tucked away for the night, so I dragged my bags the 2kms to the harbour. As I turned the corner I could make out the mast of Sister Midnight, always a good sign!

Once I was down at the boat I could see Jim had done a good job looking after her, she looked just as I left her last October. 

I was soon onboard and pleased to see she was dry and quite clean. There was a  general film of light mildew over a lot of the surfaces, but I soon had my bags on board, the fridge up and running and the eberspacher heater running. Sea cocks were opened and I could now use the sink and the head. I unpacked the bedding, made a bed and went to sleep happy.

I had sent an new windlas out to the boat from the UK and Jim had taken delivery and left it on the boat for me.

Thursday morning, it was raining all day, but I wasn’t bothered, a trip to the office to let them know I was here, enlightened me to the fact that their wifi system for the harbour was down and might be so for several weeks, I’m glad I bought the virgin contract, but will need to find more wifi for the bigger downloads. I spent the day getting the boat habitable, I washed down all the surfaces in the V berth and along the starboard side of the main cabin. I removed the covers off the boat to let some light in and reflated the rather sad looking dinghy. I cleaned the galley surfaces and later in the day walked down to the co-op to get more food in. Finally I dragged the bikes out of the quarter berth, put the sails out on deck to make space and retired to cook a lovely dinner before typing this blog. 

flying into Canada

Paul Collister