Log #59a House Sitting and Boat Maintenance

June 1, 2015 in Log Series 50-59, Logs by Series, Series 59, The Logs

Kitimat, B.C.
May 30, 2015
Hi Folks,
We have made good time getting this far north, and will probably head off to Alaska before going back down to Haida Gwaii and possibly down the west coast of Vancouver Island. The fjords up here are spectacular! More about them in later logs. I am starting this as series Logs #59 for this year’s travels. This Log #59a talks about some of our house sitting experiences, and the maintenance we needed to do on Veleda before setting off for this season’s sailing.
However, Murphy’s law is working well, and the internet we were supposed to have had here in Kitamat is not working, and so this log will have to wait probably until we get to Prince Rupert, if it is working there. Also the barber shop here was closed and I look like a Kalahari Bushman!
All is well with us and Veleda. However, we have sailed only 4 hours this month, another few hours motor sailing, and the remaining 95 % motoring! A trawler is a good investment on this coast.  Motoring up the inlets, passages, and fjords is in quiet waters, allowing me to get caught up on my logs while under way, so you may get a couple of them in short order when I get access to the internet.
We have been travelling so frequently that I may skip many of the anchorages we have used, as this month we have been 11 days in marinas and 20 days in various anchorages, never in one anchorage for more than 2 days. I will comment on the highlights of our travels, but hopefully not bore you with every individual anchorage we made.
So far we have had four spectacular inlets/fjords we have enjoyed on this coast. They are Princess Louisa Inlet, Knight Inlet (in the Broughtons), Belize and Allison inlets, and Kynoch Inlet, especially Culpepper Lagoon just last week.  We are surrounded by snow clad mountains up here. The scenery is fantastic!
All the best,
Aubrey
PS – I think the internet is working so I will send this now.
PPS – No luck, and am sending this hopefully from Prince Rupert

Log #59a House Sitting and Boat Maintenance
Fury Cove, Penrose Island, B.C.
May 20, 2015
House Sitting
As we had been living onboard Veleda or in our trailer for over 16 years, on the move constantly, I wanted to stop the world and get off for a period of time and to belong to a small community. I wanted to see snow and see the seasons change: I wanted to join a curling club, do some cross country skiing, do some community work, and join a church.
I met a reporter for the Penticton Herald in the Broughtons last summer, and he informed me of the website for the paper and that classified ads could be sent by E-mail to its website. I had already joined a house sitting website to link people to house sitting opportunities around the world. However most of these were of short duration from a couple of weeks to a month, and usually involved taking care of pets or other animals.
From the ad I put in the Penticton paper,
Housesitting – An active retired couple (former teacher and dentist) living on their sailboat for 16 years are looking to house sit for the winter in B.C., and are available between October  to April.  We are non-smokers, and love animals. Check our website at www.veledaiv.ca or e-mail us at svveledaiv@hotmail.com .
I received four replies by E-mail. After a couple of weeks corresponding with them we selected an interesting prospect in Okanagan Falls. Actually we had two prospects from that small community.
We arranged to drive to OK Falls in late August to meet the family and sound out any final arrangements, and if they were to have us house sit for them. It was a couple who go to Palm Springs each winter. Their previous house sitters liked OK Falls so much they moved to the area and were not available any more.
The House
The house is a mansion! Located on Lake Skaha in OK Falls, it has a beautiful view up the lake to Penticton about 15 km at the north end. The couple was very gracious, showing us around their large luxurious 26 room home. We mutually agreed on the basic arrangements. They were that we would be there for six months from the end of October to the end of April. We stayed two nights, returning to Veleda relieved at our good fortune to have such a lovely place to spend the winter. It would be like living in a spa!

House1         House2
View of house from the dock                                                      Front Entrance Circular Driveway

House3
Our Lower balcony
We arrived a couple of days before their departure in late October, and were shown the other aspects of living in their house. If we were to leave the house for more than three days, we would inform their daughter who would check on it in our absence. We were shown how to water the plants they had, told when the garbage and recycling would be collected, and were given the access code to their WiFi system.
We would pay them a nominal amount for the monthly utilities, which they would continue to pay, thus not having to change any billing arrangements. The utilities included everything from water, light, and heat, to phone, WiFi, and the 500 channel TV services. In addition they had a groundskeeper who came once a week to clean up the shrubbery and prepare the gardens for winter. The phone service was a plan which covered free calls to anywhere in Canada and the U.S. The WiFi reception was excellent and allowed me to watch Netflix movies any time on my laptop, to send and receive E-mail, and to print out documents and coloured pictures. Judy became a couch potato watching crime scene TV and the History and A&E channels while doing an embroidery of birds for the trailer (of Jays as our trailer is a JAYCO) as well as crossword and Sudoku puzzles.
jays
   Judy’s Embroidery of Jays
We watched many re-runs of M*A*S*H. We bought a small Singer sewing machine, which Judy used to make a variety of bags (My wife the BAG Lady) as well as some warm robes, slacks and jackets.
I enjoyed working in the lower double garage at the work bench, sanding and varnishing woodwork I had brought from Veleda. I even enjoyed listening to news and music on a small portable radio while working there. The teak plates from the bow pulpit, the external hand rails and the cabin table were all stripped down, sanded, and varnished with three to seven coats of Cetol. It was nice to have space to do this and to let them dry in the furnace room. Doing the same work on Veleda as I have done many times, is always complicated because of the restricted space, and lack of clear surfaces on which to work. On board, nothing is ever simple.
We tried to take care of our physical fitness by exercising and following a low carbohydrate Atkins Diet. The exercise room had a treadmill, bicycle, and rowing machines. I bought an Inversion Table which I used frequently. Judy thinks I am weird.  I laid out a yoga mat to do a series of stretching exercises to try to increase my flexibility. We weren’t quite as regular with the exercises as we could have been, but I lost 25 pounds and three inches off my waist, and Judy lost over 20 pounds and three inches off her waist. (Very few people use metric body measurements.)  We used the sauna a few times as well. Rough life!
In the lower level apartment we enjoyed a large kitchen with all the facilities, except a dishwasher (other than me). Quite a contrast to our small galley on Veleda! We rapidly got accustomed to the amenities of a household with everyday luxuries such as running hot and cold water (on Veleda we have hot water only when we are plugged in to shore power or the engine is running), a double sink (ours is a deep single sink), a full oven with broiler in a four burner electric stove (Veleda has a three burner propane stove with a small oven, but no broiler), a microwave, tons of storage space, several drawers, large work surfaces, an electric coffee maker (I make coffee with a cone and filter pouring hot water over the grinds), a blender and mixmaster, none of which we have or can use on Veleda. The big bathroom beside our large queen size bedroom had a deep tub in which I enjoyed many soaks. The bathroom had more square footage than our entire boat. The smaller bathroom down the hall had only a large shower, toilet, and sink, but also contained the sauna. There are four other bathrooms on the main floor.
Community Activities
I joined the Oliver Curling Club Day League (two days a week), and helped out coaching the Junior League (one or two days a week), mostly elementary students.
curling1       curling2
   Junior Curlers Girls                                                                                     Junior Curlers Boys
It forced me to finally recognize I am getting older (Not old, but older!). I couldn’t crouch down in the hack to deliver the rocks with any kind of balance or control. This was the first time in over 20 years that I have curled! I had to swallow my pride and use the “stick” which enabled me to deliver the rock standing up. It bruised my ego to have to resort to it, but it allowed me and about half the day league curlers to enjoy the game (into our 70s and 80s).
curling3
Aubrey curling with the stick
Oliver is advertised as the Wine Capital of B.C. and is located 15 km south of OK Falls. We visited several wineries and enjoyed a few local wines, although we still bought wine in the box for cooking and casual use. The Okanagan Valley is fertile and home to large winery estates and fruit and vegetable farms.
I joined the the Blasted Church, a United Church in OK Falls. It was called the Blasted Church as when it was being relocated from the outskirts of Oliver to OK Falls, a small dynamite blast was used to free up joists and wooden structures before transport. The small congregation of about 12 to 15 people each Sunday was led by an enthusiastic student minister. Congratulations Wade Lifton on your ordination the end of May!
Judy and I did some volunteer work for the local elementary school on a One to One Reading program. After an RCMP criminal record check and a one afternoon training program, we went in each Tuesday morning for a few hours to read with three students each, weak readers recommended by their teachers, but not Special Ed kids. It was a good program to increase the reading skills of weak students. It was fun working with kids again!
Another major activity was the slide presentation of our sailing experiences to a variety of groups. We presented three slide shows at the Vancouver International Boat Show in January on Preparations for Liveaboard Life, Cruising in the Broughton Archipelago, and Why Canada Needs a Navy. For The OK Falls Parks and Recreation and for the public libraries in Oliver and Penticton we presented four travelogues of our 16 years of live aboard sailing: Part 1 – Down the Mississippi to Europe, the Med and Black Seas, Part 2 – The Caribbean, Part 3 – Cruising down the Eastern Seaboard from Newfoundland to the Florida Keys, and Part 4 – Central America, Mexico Belize Guatemala and Honduras.
There are a couple of ski resorts 40 km away, Mount Baldy down Oliver way and Apex up west of Penticton. Mount Baldy had been closed for the past few years and was open this year, but had no cross country skiing. I did some cross country skiing at Apex.
aubrey-ski
   Aubrey cross country skiing at Apex
The drive up the mountains was spectacular. There was little snow down in the Okanagan Valley, but lots up the surrounding mountains. Another winter activity I would have liked to have done was snowmobiling, but never got around to it. I did a lot of snowmobiling when we lived up in Northern Ontario in Espanola, 50 km west of Sudbury over 30 years ago.
We had only two snowfalls over the winter in the valley.
snow
First snowfall looking up Lake Skaha  
Birds and Animals
Our living room/dining room looked over the lake. We had a small bird feeder on a low table outside the window at which dozens of quail would feed each morning and late afternoon, with the occasional blackbird, grackle, Stellar’s jay, magpie or sparrow. It was enjoyable watching the quail skitter along, bobbing their tufted heads as they scooted in pairs to and fro. Quail are very common in OK Falls, and the residence we were minding is called “Quail Run”.
quail1   quail2
    Quail on our balcony                                                                                    Quail on the lawn
      
quail3              quail4     
    Male quail with larger top knot                                                        Female quail with smaller top knot
Many deer wandered around the lower lawn in families of three or four at a time. We recognized one family as one adult had a broken hind leg that dangled as it limped around.
deer1            deer2
We had one mystery during the second snowfall, as one morning we saw a deer’s head severed at the neck lying on the lawn. The next morning it was gone.
deer3
Deer head on the snowy lawn
There were a few tracks around the site, but nothing as big as a bear or human. We still don’t know how it got there or what happened to it.
One of my duties was to keep the Canada geese off the lawn as their droppings messed the lawn badly. I would throw a stick of wood to frighten them off, and they would saunter away slowly to walk to the small beach and into the water. Sometimes I would have to go down and yell at them to scare them off. I finally put some chicken wire across the beach to the dock to deter their access. It worked reasonably well, but even then they would occasionally fly over the low hedge. I felt like Elmer Fudd chasing the “waskally wabbit”.
Judy enjoyed watching the waterfowl, a wide variety of ducks, loons, mergansers, and coots. A couple of bald eagles lived in the area and flew by every once in a while. We watched a few times as the eagles circled above a group of coots sheltering away from them beneath the dock, and saw a couple of times when the eagles snatched one of the coots from the small flotilla.
As much as we enjoyed the experience we will not do it again as we value the flexibility to travel. This coming winter we have planned a one month cruise with Holland America to Hawaii, Saipan, Guam, Indonesia, the Marianas, and the Philippines, ending in Singapore.  After the cruise we will spend another month in China and Viet Nam before returning to B.C. We may then see what it is like on Veleda for a few weeks in mid-November now that we have a diesel furnace, after which we will probably take the trailer south to Arizona for the rest of the winter.
Boat Maintenance
We boarded Veleda on April 30 and motored from Thetis Island to Chemainus where we spent a couple of days storing the boat and squaring things away so we could live on it, before going down to Ganges on Saltspring Island to do more preparations and maintenance.
At Saltspring Marina we had many things done on Veleda to get her ready for this season’s sail north to Prince Rupert, Haida Gwaii and possibly Alaska. A mechanic checked the valve clearances on our Yanmar diesel and we had another check out the 15 hp outboard. We unwrapped and lowered the new 10 foot hard bottom (fiberglass) dinghy that we bought in Vancouver from our foredeck to the dock and inflated it. After bolting the Dinghy Tow brackets on its stern, we then launched it and mounted the outboard.
dinghy1           dinghy2
Judy attaching Dinghy Tow brackets                                            The new dinghy ready to go
We attached our new Magma Barbecue on the stern rail. We checked out the circuits to the windlass to find Judy had forgotten to connect one wire (oops). (We had installed the new golf cart batteries in Chemainus.) New curtains that Judy made while house sitting were put up in the main cabin. .All the mould was cleaned from the bulkheads and woodwork inside and the upper deck was scrubbed down to get rid of sea gull droppings and the barnacles and mussel shells left from our old dinghy which had been stored on the port side deck for the winter. I scrubbed the top of the hard bimini and hosed out the drain tubes by which we collect rain water for drinking. The transmission cable was checked as putting the engine into forward gear was sometimes difficult. The cables were OK. It was just the transmission itself wearing and when warm, has to be revved up a bit to put it into gear. Judy mounted LED strip lighting from Lee Valley Tools in the main cabin, the heads and the engine compartment. Very bright lights!
When the mechanic checked the windlass connections, he realized that a battery post on one of the new batteries was sheared off. As a result, we had to go over to Vancouver to exchange the battery for another new one at the shop in Surrey. We motored the 43 miles across the Strait of Georgia to Vancouver to stay at the False Creek Yacht Club, a reciprocal club with our CFSA Esquimalt club.
False Creek in Vancouver
Thinking that taking the battery all the way out to Surrey would be difficult we contacted a couple of friends to help us, but they were not available. We put the battery in a wheeled cart and, dinghied down to the aquabus dock by the dragon boats from where we walked a couple of hundred yards past the Science World to catch the Sky Train out to Surrey.
It is a very efficient service on elevated rails going well out to the suburbs. Tickets are purchased at vending machines for varying prices depending on zones one, two, or three. The tickets are good for 90 minutes which allowed us to go out to Surrey, exchange the battery, and return at no extra cost. Each station has stairs, escalators and elevators, the latter which helped us lug the heavy battery with our dolly. However, there is no system in place to check the tickets! There are no turnstiles to go through, and no officials on the trains to check tickets. I am sure many people do not bother to purchase their tickets. However, the system is efficient and convenient.
Fortunately the battery place was a short taxi ride from the stop in Surrey, and we were back on Veleda within an hour and a half. We installed the new battery and reattached the wires. It worked!
While in False Creek we saw a parade of luxury yachts from the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club (RVYC) going out the creek for their sailpast.
b1        b2
        Classic Yacht*                                                                    Classic Motorsailor
  b3        b4
           Small Family Trawler                                                              Large Luxury Yacht
* Note – the Canadian Blue Ensign at the stern of this yacht.  Members or former members of Commonwealth navies or military who belong to a “Royal” yacht club are entitled to wear the Blue Ensign of their country on their vessels. The Canadian Red Ensign was dropped in the mid 1960’s when Canada adopted the new Maple Leaf Flag.
We completed the installation of our new diesel furnace, after several trips to Stephenson’s Marine chandlery for extra parts.
Mounting the new diesel stove was a chore. We had to remove the old Cole wood stove and all the stovepipe and the external chimney. Mounting the stove on the slate bulkhead was not a problem, but cutting and fitting the stove pipes was tricky as there are two 45 degree bends before they fit into the chimney sleeve.
stove1
Two 45 Degree Bends

The new external chimney had to be modified as it was too wide for the original opening. Then we had to mount a fuel pump in the engine compartment, and run a hose with a T fitting from the diesel line to the fuel pump, and from the fuel pump underneath the cabin floor up to the new Dickinson Passport furnace. Judy placed a cut-off valve below the stove linking the rubber fuel hose to brass fittings to a copper intake pipe with copper and brass parts bought from the chandlery.  Then we had to run 12 volt wires to the furnace as it has a fan to assist air flow.
Finally all was assembled and we were ready for the first test. The cut off valve leaked!
Then we were informed by the chandlery people at Stephenson Marine that even though the metal parts fit well, they still need to be wrapped with Teflon Tape. So we (Judy) disassembled the valve connections, wrapped the tape and reassembled it.
stove2  Rubber fuel hose to metal fittings

No leaks! It works! We now have a source of reliable heat in the boat!
stove3
Our new Dickinson Newport Diesel Furnace
We stocked up with food supplies at the expensive but delightful Granville Market.
I am impressed with the development of the False Creek area, which 50 years ago was an abandoned industrial backwater dead end. Now, it is a vibrant location surrounded by tall condos, six marinas, a science centre, B.C. Place, a university, a stretch of luxury float homes, an upscale community developed after the Summer Olympics held a while back, a home for a flotilla of dozens of dragon boats out practicing every evening, a fleet of colourful aquabus boats serving as False Creek buses; yet still has an operational industrial cement dock with colourful silos serviced by large barges brought alongside about once a week.
condos                  cementplant
    Tall condos in False Creek                                          Cement plant beside Granville Market
(Note the second condo has warped architecture. It is not a defect of the picture)

Boats can anchor for up to two weeks with a free permit available on line, and their dinghies can tie up behind the many aquabus docks located around False Creek giving boaters easy access to much of downtown Vancouver.
59a-28                         59a-29

Aqua Buses in False Creek
59a-30
Luxury float homes beside cement plant
All (well, almost all) systems were operational. We were ready to head off for our summer cruising.