Ocean Adventures: Privacy Issues

Aug 3 2018 – 37’8.60 N, 152’44.60 W

So we have lost the door to our head. Poor Turnagain is getting pretty beat up on this trip and I can’t help but feel for Travis as he tries to manage all of us and our “intricacies”. I have been dreading having to use the head to do my “morning business” as we now have no door and have to announce to the entire boat whenever we need to go. Walking in on someone is just a permanent thing at this point. Wren has been a door for me a few times (thank God she makes a better door than window!), but I don’t dare ask her to plug her nose and hang out for 30 min while I negotiate my business. Thankfully, someone has donated a towel and we now have a “door”. Geoff is lucky enough to be tall enough to look over it, which works well when Wren is asking him what he’d like on his sandwich (HAHAHAHAH … awkward!).

The amount of garbage that we have been seeing is really disheartening. I was hoping that the Great Pacific garbage patch was just fake news, but I have counted at least 10 pieces of garbage a day. Everything from car tires, to barrels, and even waffles (!?). The predominant type of garbage appears to be large abandoned commercial fishing gear. We have seen a couple of sea turtles along the way and they did not appear to be in distress. It’s no wonder these poor creatures get caught up in stuff if there’s this much junk floating around. Makes me angry and I wonder if there is more that I can do.

Aug 5 2018 – 40’0.29 N, 145’15.68 W

It is hard to describe what it is like to sail at night in complete darkness. If you have not experienced it, you have to. The total darkness is unbelievable. One night while on watch we saw a bright red light in the distance… tanker! Joe rushed to get Travis… only to have us realize it was the moonrise šŸ˜‰ tee hee. Your mind plays tricks on you in the night!

I easily count 20 shooting stars a night. On some nights, however, we have no stars at all and the total darkness can make you a little uneasy. You have to trust that you are not going to hit anything. Not only that, every once in a while you hear a wave coming and you have to react to it as it hits the boat. Even better, the phosphorescence light up the waves as they crest about 20 feet above us! Yee haw!

Joe has been thoroughly confused as to how we are not sailing in circles. I don’t blame him. It is very confusing to feel a boat moving and sailing along under you and to not see where you are going. Meanwhile, you are staring at the red glowing compass the whole time. This is where I met Cheshire.

The glowing compass started reminding me of the glowing cat teeth in Alice in Wonderland… hence, Cheshire the Compass was born. Wren and I used to joke about how we only know how to steer by compass, not GPS. Well, thanks to the water maker we had a lot of time staring at Cheshire! We also had to use our headlamps on the night setting… something not all of us mastered (ahem Geoff).

Aug 6 2018 –Ā  40’26.53 N, 144’05.91 W

We have managed to snag something on the rudder so Travis is using a release technique I have never seen before called the drive-the-shit-out-of-the-boat method. Man, Turnagain’s engine can GO. It worked well for removing the debris… not so well for our naps!

We had a great afternoon shift today and Wren spotted something funny off the starboard beam. Waves that seamed to be spraying straight up. Wait a minute! Whales! We did not get close enough to really see them, but we were able to see the spouts for several minutes. Was very cool knowing they were out there.

Tomorrow is my birthday and it has become clearly abundant that we are NOT making it home for that (something I was secretly hoping as I thought it would be SO COOL to have a birthday on the Ocean!). Just as I was settling in with my book Wren jumps up and shouts “dolphins!” Up to the bow we go to watch them play…

To be continued…

Captain Penny


Photo Credits: Duncan Cameron and Author’s Own



2018 Season Review


The 2018 sailing season was a great kick-off season for Sail Nelson! Spindrift joined us in Nelson from Montreal which enabled us to be more flexible with our schedule and offer as many courses as possible. Read about her cross-country trek here.

The water levels and weather continue to be a challenge as we get used to the Kootenay climate. We were hoping to start our courses in April at the Kokanee Marina, however we were unable to get into our slip until June due to low water levels. Also, we were hoping to go right to the end of October at Kokanee Marina as well, but once again, due to low water levels, Spindrift could no longer get in and out of her slip by mid-September. Something we will be keeping in mind for 2019 scheduling.

Course Review

As for course offerings, we tried to offer evening Basic Cruising courses, only to find that there is not enough wind to complete everything. Next season we may look at a blended delivery that is over 1 weekend and several evenings. The 2-weekend Basic Cruising courses ran just fine and were our most popular option by far. For 2019 we are looking at adding in week day courses as well.

We ran several successful Intro to Sailing courses which provided students a good introduction to sailing including terminology, basic maneuvers and life on a boat for a day. We also offered a couple of seminars (anchoring and docking). We are looking at expanding those seminars for 2019 and also offering more Women & Wind sailing options.

New Courses

For the 2019 season we will be offering an Intermediate Cruising level course out of Vancouver. Our instructor Penny Caldwell will be teaming up with some colleagues on the Coast to get a boat and will take 4 students to the Coast for a week of cruising. If you are interested in this course please contact usĀ to be added to our interest list.Ā  We will be confirming the schedule and course fees in March 2019.

We have recently learned that we can offer the VHF Marine Radio course as a home study course. We will be adding the details to our site soon, but if you are looking to get your license this may be a good option for you.Ā Contact us for details. We will also be adding the Coastal Navigation course in the Fall of 2019.


Finally, we are having a year end wrap up at Torchlight Brewing on November 3 from 2 pm to 5 pm. This is an opportunity to get together and reminisce about this past sailing season and to meet some new sailors. Come on out for a pint and some swag!

Hope you all had a great season and happy Fall! Read our year end newsletter and keep an eye on the website for fun Fall and Winter events, we have lots of fun stuff in mind…

Captain Penny

Ocean Adventures: This too shall pass…

July 30, 2018 – 28’10.6 N, 158’28.08 W

We have been on a starboard tack for 4 days now. I don’t remember what it feels like to stand on solid ground and my hips are bruised from bracing myself against the counters and tables whenever I walk around inside the washing machine…

Thankfully, my avoid-getting-sick-even-though-I’ve-never-been-sick meds have left my body and I am back in tip top (albeit sleepy) shape. How did I get them out of my system you ask? Buckets of water and about 357 naps in one day appears to do the trick!Ā  šŸ˜‰

The evenings are damp. And I mean DAMP. Everything is wet and the only way to find a dry place is to sit in one spot for your entire shift and soak up the dampness with your gear. I am quickly realizing that I have significantly underestimated how many pairs of base layers I needed. I go from damp/cold layers, to putting on damp/warm layers. Then I promptly cool them down again when I’m back up on deck. Not ideal. Thankfully my -20C MEC mummy sleeping bag is keeping me toasty warm!!

We are all acclimatizing to life on shifts. The shifts are as follows:

  • 0600-1200 Team Cruising
  • 1200-1800 Team Racing
  • 1800-2200 Team Cruising
  • 2200-0200 Team Racing
  • 0200-0600Ā  Team Cruising

and so on… We rotate around and around and I have found my favourite shift to be the double night shift when we get off at 0600. There are millions of stars out here and I easily count 20 shooting stars each night. I watch the sunrise, have a bowl of oatmeal and then secure myself with my lee cloth for 6 hours of glorious sleep. It usually ends up being about an hour or two of sleep interspersed with reading, music and swearing about not sleeping, but I’m not complaining.


July 31, 2018 – 31’23.63 N, 157’25.33 W

I finally saw an Albatross! The prehistoric creature appeared off of our stern as I was helming. It promptly buzzed past us and took off to find something more interesting. It is amazing how low they glide over the waves. It was nice to have something to look at other than blue on blue and black on black though. We lost sight of Kraken a few days ago, but Travis keeps in touch with them via email. We have had several flying fish join us along the way as well, and I even had one hit my arm during the night. I almost had a heart attack!


Team Racing is managing to catch us a lot of tuna and Chef Travis is keeping us all well fed. Chef Paul is creating all kinds of wonderful dishes which I appreciate, as I am not a fan of fish (at least I wasn’t until this trip!). I’m not sure how they are managing that as it seems like they are grinding the winches every 2 min… joking (sorta), but I definitely appreciate the delicious, fresh, tuna.

August 1, 2018 – 33’33.48 N, 156’45.29 W

Geoff has seen the light and has been reborn! Yup, he has been out for several days. I threw him on the helm as soon as possible and started coaching him through the waves. We’ve been having wonderful winds and are easily cruising around 10 knots. The waves are an easy 10-20 feet at this point and are still a bit chaotic, but super fun to surf and helm. Once again, I am ever so impressed with how Turnagain rides it all. She has grace and style šŸ˜‰

Our water maker issues appear to have caused our AIS / GPS system to go down, so Travis has resorted to good ol’ charts and his iPad (maybe not so old, but still). It was too bad as I was looking forward to playing around with the electronics as I don’t have many of these on my Spindrift. I’ll do an entire post on how we managed all of that another time…

When it is time for dinner to be cooked, we usually bear away and surf the waves a bit to help the Chef keep the pots on the stove. I have just woken up from an afternoon off and I opened my cabin door just in time to have the boat knocked by a huge wave and to watch Travis fly across the galley to the other side of the boat. There goes the head door… now what?

To be continued…

Captain Penny


Photo credit: Duncan Cameron and author’s own

Pacific Ocean Facts

One of the things that struck me during our trip is just how small we felt. We were on a 50 ft boat that weighed over 26,000 lbs… and yet, when the waves said up, up we went. It made me want to learn more about the Pacific Ocean so I started looking up some interesting facts:

  • The deepest ocean trench in the world is located in the Pacific Ocean. Marianas Trench is the deepest at 11,034 meters (35,760 ft), which is more than the height of Mount Everest.
  • The longest reef in the world is the Great Barrier Reef, located in the Pacific Ocean off Australia’s coast.
  • In the Pacific Ocean is a volcanic island called Krakatoa. In 1883 it erupted and killed over 36,380 people.
  • There are 55 countries bordering on the Pacific Ocean including Canada, the United States, China, Australia, Japan, and Mexico.
  • The islands in the Pacific Ocean include four different types: continental, coral reefs, high islands, and lifted coral platforms.
  • There are more than 25,000 islands in the Pacific Ocean, most of which are located south of the Equator.
  • The name Pacific originates from the Latin word ‘pace’ which means peace. Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese explorer, named the ocean ‘mar pacifico’ in 1521, which means peaceful sea.
  • The Pacific Ocean covers 46% of the Earth’s surface. It is shrinking by 1 inch per year due to tectonic plate shifts.

The Pacific Ocean is two times bigger than the Atlantic Ocean and also contains twice the volume of water: 714 million cubic kilometers and covers over 89,000 miles of coastline.Ā It occupies an area of about 161,760,000 square kilometers and includes the Bali Sea, the Bering Sea, the Gulf of Alaska, the Gulf of Tonkin, the Coral Sea, the East China Sea, the Philippine Sea, the Sea of Japan, the South China Sea, and the Tasman Sea.

This year is an El Nino year. What does this mean? Every few years, in the South Pacific, warmer currents occur. This, in turn, causes higher temperatures on the coastlines around Chile and Ecuador. The fluctuations in temperature can be quite small, between 2 or 3 degrees or as much as 10. Depending on how much the temperature rises, it can trigger fluctuations in weather all over the world ā€“ and also increase the likelihood of extreme events like tornadoes, earthquakes and storms occurring in those countries which are most prone. The most severe occurrence of this was in 1982 when temperatures in the Pacific rose by 10 degrees. This brought floods to Chile, drought to Australia, severe storms to Canada and typhoons to the islands of the South Pacific.


The salinity of ocean water is variable and depends on three factors: winds, precipitation, and evaporation. High salinity values are when there are more than 35 parts per thousand or 3.5 percent and low values, less than 3.5 percent. Given this information,Ā the lowest salinity is found in the extreme northern areas of the oceanĀ (3.2 percent) and the highest occurs in the southeast, where the water reaches up to 3.7 percent. When there is more rainfall, the salinity decreases and when the evaporation increases the salt concentration increases too. [We felt that the water in Hawaii contained much more salt than Vancouver.]


The temperature of the Pacific Ocean is related to the ā€œlayerā€ of water. Each layer has a different temperature; therefore the lower ones are cooler than, the higher ones. The temperature of the surface layer, which is between 300 and 900 meters, are very different than the temperatures of the deepest layer, which may be near freezing.Ā Average temperatures range between -1.4Ā°C and 30Ā°C, the latter present in areas close to the equator. In general, the North Pacific is warmer than the South Pacific.

In this ocean, there is a lot of volcanic activity and earthquakes because the ā€œRing of Fireā€ surrounds it.Ā TheĀ Ring of FireĀ is a major area in theĀ basinĀ of theĀ Pacific OceanĀ where manyĀ earthquakesĀ andĀ volcanic eruptionsĀ occur. In a large 40,000Ā km (25,000Ā mi) horseshoe shape, it is associated with a nearly continuous series ofĀ oceanic trenches,Ā volcanic arcs, andĀ volcanic beltsĀ and plate movements. It has 452Ā volcanoesĀ (more than 75% of the world’s active andĀ dormant volcanoes).Ā The Ring of Fire is sometimes called theĀ circum-Pacific belt (Retrieved from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ring_of_Fire).

Ring of Fire__15

From May to December is the tropical cyclone season in South Asia, and from June to October is hurricane season in the American continent. The North Pacific surface currents move clockwise, while in the South Pacific they move counter clockwise.

Random Animal Fact:

Yeti Crab –Ā The Yeti Crab is one of the most interesting creatures to dwell in the Pacific. It is a most peculiar crustacean, and was only discovered in 2005. It got its name because it does actually look like a Yeti with claws. It was first discovered near the Antarctic Ridge and tends to inhabit the ocean floor. As it cannot see, it is believed that the crabā€™s hair acts as a sensor so it can be aware of its surroundings. The crab eats mussels, shrimps and other shellfish.




Paragraphs 2-9: retrieved from http://www.softschools.com/facts/geography/pacific_ocean_facts/1082/

Paragraphs 10-15: retrieved fromĀ https://www.basicplanet.com/pacific-ocean/

Paragraph 16: retrieved fromĀ http://facts.net/pacific-ocean/

Images recovered from Google Images creative commons.


Ocean Adventures: Casting Off!

July 25, 2018 ā€“ Hawaii Yacht Club 21ā€™16.35 N, 156ā€™56.51 W

Tomorrow am we cast off and head to Hanalei Bay for snorkeling before our sail across the Pacific Ocean to home! I am very excited to get out on the Ocean and to see how Turnagain performs with these so-called ā€œmonstrousā€ Hawaiian waves. How rough can they be?

A couple of days before, I had decided to cut out coffee and alcohol. I knew that these stimulants were not going to be good for me on the boat and I didnā€™t want to push my luck. I have never experienced sea sickness, but I was not naive enough to think that I was immune to it. I had done a lot of reading and research prior to leaving for this trip, so I had an arsenal of meds on me.

And so, today I put a Transderm patch behind one ear just before bed in preparations for our departure tomorrow. That’s when things started getting a little weird…



July 26, 2018 ā€“ Hawaii Yacht Club 21ā€™16.35 N, 156ā€™56.51 W

We started off our day heading out for one last breakfast on solid land. We went to our new favourite watering hole, The Harbour Pub, for eggs benedict. We were all excited to get our adventure started.

I am generally not one to use a lot of medications as I tend to be pretty healthy overall. Meds tend to just get me confused and feeling “loopy”. So when we were having breakfast Wren thought it was a little odd that my left pupil was twice the size of my right, but I seemed to be coherent and in good spirits, so there was no mention of my “condition” at that point.

1300 hours ā€“ Casting off!

Off we go! We started off under power while Travis went over the safety briefing. Feeling good and the chop did not disappoint. Maybe these islands do refract and reflect the waves after all?


The sailing was awesome! We were easily doing 12 knots reaching on a steady 15-20 knot breeze. The waves were really something. I have never sailed in such chaos and it was really great helming experience. It was also my first time handling Turnagain, so off to the races!

My team was going to be first up on the overnight watch, so Wren, Joe, Geoff and I had some downtime before we needed to be on deck. The waves continued to toss us about, so naps were few and stomachs were starting to turn. However, I was excited to get a glimpse of the super moon on our first night shift. Wren and I were feeling nostalgic about the night sailing (and we discussed my pupils which were now normal again, phew),Ā Geoff was feeding the fish off the stern, and Joe was getting tips from Coach Wren as he got to know Turnagain. Shift 1 under our belts and back below for naps.


July 27, 2018 – Somewhere aroundĀ 22ā€™27.73 N, 159ā€™36.74 W

Shift 2 started up at 0200 hours and there were millions of stars to greet us. It was short-lived as some clouds rolled in and we were soon getting rained on. This is when I began to feel a little miserable. I was really needing some food, but I didnā€™t pack anything in my jacket. The last thing I wanted to do was go below to try and dig out some snacks. So, I decided to power through the shift. I made it to 0530 hours to when the next shift was getting up and decided I should have some water and Gravol before bed.

I may have overdone itā€¦ I woke up about 6 hours later, famished, thirsty, confused wondering where the hell I was and wondering why people were yelling ā€œDolphins! Dolphins!ā€ What? We donā€™t have dolphins in Nelsonā€¦

To be continuedā€¦

Captain Penny



Photo Credit: Duncan Cameron & Author’s own