Friday, 30 March 2018

Detailed description of British Columbia marine weather (Free download)

Environment Canada, Canada's national weather forecaster, provides this detailed, highly informative guide to weather patterns on the B.C. coast, including helpful tips for mariners.

Sample page covering Kelsey Bay (Johnstone Strait) winds

It has been "archived", so not all that easy to search for; here is the direct link to the pdf file (click to download):

IF the above link is broken, use this link to download:

Thursday, 15 March 2018

She's back in the saddle again (Michelle skiing)!

Top of Blackcomb's Glacier Chair (March 15, 2018)
Nearly 3.5 months of rehab after tearing the MCL and ACL of her right knee, Michelle finally made it back up the hill today. A beautiful sunny day with easy conditions for 8 runs. Feeling good and happy at the end.

Monday, 12 March 2018

A beautiful day in the neighbourhood...

View towards Black Tusk (from peak of Whistler Mtn)

Looking down from "Cream Cheese Ridge" (Whistler Mtn)

We live (and play) in a beautiful place!

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Cruising British Columbia: Keep your charts updated...

North coast of British Columbia: Rocks keep being found, charts are updated, and new chart editions produced

We've written several posts about electronic nautical charts, especially in Mexico, and have noted that commercial charts, such as Navionics, are not always as up-to-date as the official national charts. Returning home to Canada in 2015, it was a relief to be back in well-charted waters.

Well, not always.... But at least Canadian charts are regularly updated, as well as new chart editions being produced.

Pelagia's Furuno chartplotter uses vector charts from C-Map, which we assiduously update each year (at a cost of about C$120/yr). However, we have learned to always compare these vector charts with our Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS) charts (in raster format), as they are regularly updated (as much as monthly, when required). We also feel less likely to miss a charted hazard on a raster chart compared to a vector chart (learned many years ago, from direct experience unfortunately).

With the excellent CHS charts available here in Canada, it is too easy to become a little less attentive to keeping charts updated. Especially given CHS raster chart packages are pretty pricey (C$522 for all of BC coast). However, their purchase includes two years of chart updates (online), effectively giving one updated charts for three summer cruising seasons. (Sure. It would be nice if CHS would provide our charts for free, as is the case for NOAA charts in the USA. As CHS notes, however, "domestic, fiscal and social policy" is different between the USA and Canada. Yes, indeed. So, given the choice.... ).

Preparing for our cruising this coming Summer (back to Haida Gwaii!), I've started looking into changes in charts since we were last up there in 2011. I'm finding many. New surveys, new charts and, unfortunately, I guess boaters finding rocks. Here are just two examples (in places we are likely to go; see small scale chart above):

Rock in passage between Penrose Island  and unnamed island at North end of  Klaquaek Channel (Rivers Inlet):

Absent on charts earlier than 2016, somebody must have found this rock the "hard" way (shown by the "+" in the circle, indicating "underwater rock of unknown depth, dangerous to surface navigation").

"New" rocks in Windy Bay, Lyell Island (Haida Gwaii)

I found this update after I read a recent local newspaper report of a charter sailboat (that takes guests on week-long cruises in Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve) hitting rocks in Windy Bay, a main stop for cruisers in the park. Don't know if  this is the rock it hit, but: in place of a 5.8m sounding and kelp (pre-2011), there are now two rocks (one awash at chart datum, and the other drying at 0.4m tide level).

Pelagia is too valuable to us to take chances without having the most up-to-date, official* CHS raster nautical charts. C$522 for 3 years seems a small price to pay for the added security. In practice, we compare our C-MAP and CHS charts in advance and then, in tricky areas, we run both the C-MAP charts on our chartplotter and the CHS raster charts on our Android tablet (with both in the cockpit).**

*Technically, CHS raster navigational charts do not satisfy ECDIS requirements for ships over 100 tons. However, Canadian chart carrying regulations make exceptions for ships under 100 tons, provided they have sufficient "local" knowledge. This includes: the location and character of charted lights buoys, marks, shipping routes, navigational hazards, and prevailing navigational conditions, such as ice, tides, currents, and weather patterns.

** We do have and occasionally use Navionics charts (on our Android tablet). However, we prefer C-MAP vector charts, and even more so the CHS raster charts. We have considerable distrust for "Community Edits", especially when it comes to hazards such as rocks, as well as anchorage suggestions.

Friday, 2 February 2018

Mid-(ski)season Progress Report

"Triumphant" return to Winter sports: Snowshoeing February 1

Two months of steady recovery for Michelle, diligently doing her daily exercises and seeing the physiotherapist 2x/week. Follow up visit with surgeon in mid-January concludes 2+° tear of her MCL and slight (1°) of her ACL, both healing well and, importantly, no surgery required! Yeah!

Early January: Michelle in her first "bionic woman" brace (later replaced with much less obtrusive brace)

Yesterday marked a milestone, with Michelle getting out for over an hour snowshoeing (on the Whistler Golf course; actually, a tough slog).  Next up will be x-country skiing.

Looking very good for a return to (downhill) skiing mid to late March!

X-Country skiing Feb 10th...

Late January 2018: on top of Spanky's Ladder

Meanwhile, the snow is piling up on Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. David has some good days, but missing his skiing partner.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Out for the count (and the season): the ACL-MCL blues...

Looks peaceful, but... it's the N2O and ketamine

A small fall on a relatively easy run (Expresso)... the result appears to be torn MCL and ACL* of Michelle's right knee.

Extremely painful for Michelle, the Whistler-Blackcomb ski patrol were excellent. Nitrous Oxide helped but not enough for Michelle's pain; Dr. Chad arrived with ketamine which did the trick for the toboggan ride down to Blackcomb Base II.

Then a short ride by BC Ambulance Service to the Whistler Health Clinic, both excellent.  Fast, understanding and knowledgeable. Pain managed well.

A huge thank you to WB Ski Patrol (Jimmy, Dan and Dr. Chad), Blackcomb Safety Volunteers, the Whistler Paramedics, and the Whistler Health Clinic staff. We're lucky to be here.

First physiotherapy session today and an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon tomorrow. Michelle is tough and a fast healer. We'll see how it goes, but pretty certain that's it for Michelle's ski season.

Not exactly "happy campers", but moving forward.  What else are you gonna do?

* possibly great news today (Dec7th): Orthopedic surgeon says physical exam indicates: (i) MCL is a partial (2°) tear and, even better, (ii) Michelle's ACL does not appear to be torn. Surgery likely not indicated -- we'll know better at follow-up in 5 weeks time (after MCL more healed).

Friday, 24 November 2017

Back home in Whistler... and back skiing

Heading down "Zig Zag" (Blackcomb Mountain, Nov 23, 2017)
A long trip home from Hua Hin (Thailand): 3.5 hours bus to Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport, 3 hours flight to Taipei, 10 hours flight to Vancouver, and finally 2.5-hour drive up to Whistler (plus all the waiting in between). But finally home.

Thought we'd be too jet-lagged to get up the mountain, but decided fresh air and sun (well, a little) should help.

Managed 5 runs, even all the way to the bottom (a good start to the season).

But quite the change from 30°C in Thailand!