I was born into a long tradition of sailing that begin in England, Whitstable Kent. I learnt to sail in Cadboro Bay at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club. My sailing experience began with my father and grandfather in dingy’s, flying juniors, Stars, wooden classics and keelboats. I have third children, Connor, Marina and Asia.
My partner in life is Connie, an Albertan girl, a sweetheart that has agreed to live with me aboard our Sailing vessel Esperanza.
I participated in coastal, offshore racing and cruising. Before going offshore, I worked in the Canadian Arctic on class 4 icebreakers and for a period of time on the Pacific Coast with the Canadian Coast Guard. In 1990 my best friend and I decided to sail my Pacific 30 to Hawaii and began our refit to this semi full keel sloop. We have captured the highlights of our story for your enjoyment.
Our Sealife Adventure! – Dale Gann & Haydn George
“Peg Leg’s” Hawaiian Offshore Adventure – June 24, – Sept 4th, 1990
Pacific 30. Beam: 8’6”, LOA: 29’6”
Draft: 4’6”, Mast height: 40’. Disp: 10,000 lbs.
Description & History of yacht:
Pacific 30, fibreglass haul and deck construction, sloop rig, semi full keel with a skeg hung rudder. The hull and deck were laid up in Cobble Hill in 1976. My father Peter Gann finished the interior in a barn on Old West Saanich Road, Victoria, BC “Peg Leg” was launched on September 2nd, 1977 at Cattle Point. It was towed back to R.V.Y.C. by my grandfather, (Jack Gann)’s boat “Seatime”.
Our story started in the Canadian Arctic in 1989 while Haydn George and
I were working as seamen for Beaudrill aboard the M.V. “Terry Fox”. After
a cool watch on the deck, Haydn and I found ourselves in the warmth of
the ship’s library thumbing through navigation books as we were aspiring
to be ocean navigators. Our discussion quickly focused on the topic of
celestial navigation, endless horizons and turquoise warm water. Sextant
angles, warm blue-sky endless horizons combined with -40 or –50 temperatures fueled ideas like sailing to the tropical islands of Hawaii (+80). The temperature and need for endless horizons to practice our celestial navigation was all we required at 20 years old to commit ourselves to sailing my thirty-foot sloop “Peg Leg” to Hawaii.
The decision was made: we would leave on June 24, 1990 @1430. We set
about our planning and for the remainder of our time in the Arctic we
imposed on Capt. Peter Kimberley to teach us how to navigate across the
Pacific using a plastic Davis Mark II Sextant.
For the next six months, our plan included making use of our friend’s
time and our family’s money, cars, homes (and rum!) to refit “Peg Leg”
for our Hawaiian adventure.
Day 1 – June 24, 1990 at 1400 hrs
Somehow day 1 was suddenly upon us! It was a beautiful warm summer day in Cadboro Bay, Victoria, British Columbia, and we found ourselves surrounded by friends, family and onlookers. Haydn untied our lines and I passed our good friend Rick Todd the fenders and said “we will not be needed tonight.” Our adventure begins with smiles and tears as we said goodbye and sailed out into the bay. Unlike all the other times, this was not
just an afternoon sail. We would not return to Cadboro Bay until 74 days
As we reached Race Rocks our warm summer afternoon turned into a brisk 35 knot westerly requiring us to reduce sail to a triple-reefed main and a 100% jib. Haydn and I decided to sail into the lee of Bentick Island
to prepare “Peg” for the evening sail to Cape Flattery. Here we stowed
away the wine bottles, cards, chili, cookies and flowers from my good
friends Mugs & Peter Townshend and other loved ones. Yes, the boat
was ready, reefed down, stowage complete!
Haydn decided to go below to update the log as we charged through Race Passage with the ebb tide and westerly. While down in the cabin, Haydn decided to make his first meal. His intention was to prepare a can of something warm before evening sunset.
Great idea, however, between cooking, and updating the log, he launched
himself through the companionway to throw up all over the lee cloth in
the cockpit. We were off to a rough start. After sailing 4 miles through
Race Passage, Haydn was sick in the bulk for the rest of the evening,
leaving me to enjoy the first cold, wet beat to Flattery alone.
Day 2 – June 25th, 1990 at 1020 hrs
The log reads “we are leaving Juan de Fuca strait and rounding Cape Flattery to begin south heading for Hawaii. The intended course now is to sail southwest to get off the continental shelf and offshore to avoid deep
vessel traffic before nightfall. The conditions allow us to sail 190 degrees
at 4.5 knots the entire day.”
The crew spent the rest of the day mounting the E.P.I.R.B. in the cockpit,
preparing our hand fishing line and cleaning up the boat after last night’s
strong westerly beat.
All day we dragged our fishing line without success. However, there was
a backup plan for our first night offshore. Knowing very well that we
would be tired and overwhelmed from our experience thus far, my Nan had prepared us a fresh pot of chilli, bread, and my favourite angel food
cake to energize us after a long day.
It was an especially warm, calm, evening to eat on deck and watch the Washington coast slip away from us. During dinner we each spoke about
waking up the following morning and not being able to see land. We were
excited and concerned for this long awaited for experience. Day turned
to night upon an endless horizon and we experienced our first offshore
sunset and twilight. The sky turn into a blanket of brilliant stars,
and the sea lit up with phosphorescence.
That night I officially began my first watch at the helm. Before Haydn
could call it a night he had to break open the siciaflex and fix the starboard
window from leaking inside. As for our watch schedule, we planned to
rotate on and off duty throughout the nights for as long as we could stand
the watch. Sometimes this resulted in 4 hr, sometimes 6 hrs watches.
That night, Haydn bulked down at about 1930 and took over the helm at
Cape Flattery to Trades and a day at sea aboard Peg Leg
For the next 5 days at sea (June 26th – June 30th) Peg Leg made her way out to 130 degrees of Longitude averaging between 70 nm to 120 nm a day. These days seem to blend into each other as though you were in an extended Swiftsure. We lost sight of land. The ocean and horizon around us turned grey, cool, and sloppy. Life on board was new and exciting. Each day seemed to open a new door into another room of adventure and discovery. By now we were still hand steering as we had not learnt how to manage our autohelm 5000 wheel pilot. She was continuously over-steering, leaving us with only one option to hand steer. During the six months leading up to departure, maybe we should have taken “Peg Leg” off the dock and tested our systems. “Oh well, we will remember sea trails next time in our life when we decide to go offshore again!”
Other than having to hand-steer, sleep in wet wool pants and suffer from
each other’s lack of cleanliness from not showering for the first ten
days, things went remarkably well. Haydn and I shared making meals, watches and our daily routine of preventative maintenance of all systems. Daily, we ran the Yanmar 18 h.p. engine for an hour at noon to charge the battery bank, top up battery fluid levels, top up the kerosene stove and inspect the running rigging for wear.
It became part of our daily routine to sight deep sea vessels, pods of
dolphins or beautiful albatross gliding along the waves. At night while
I laid in the cockpit steering under the stars, I would pass my time tuning
into the local west coast talk radio program and listen to people call
in and talk about their problems. Wow, did that ever consume a watch.
Day 8 – July 1st, 1990
The log reads, “We continue to sail south along 130 degrees of longitude
250 nm off the west coast of Cape Mendocino. By now “Peg Leg” and crew
has sailed 644 nm, reefed the main 30 times and made 15 headsail changes
to successfully gain our sea legs.
Our plan was to sail along the 130 degrees longitude allowing us to break
away from the continent while always pinching up to the Pacific High on
our starboard side. When we met the North East winds, this allowed us
to sail west to 132 degrees West Longitude and approximately 35 degrees
Great Circle and Trade wind sailing to Maui
Day 12 – July 6th, 1990
The log reads “We have finally learnt that the button on the auto helm
that controls the rudder yaw turns to accommodate small to large wheel
rotation. Wow, Peg Leg can sail in a straight line. Auto’s promoted
to Quartermaster and from that day she steers Peg Leg through the rolling
trades right into Maui.”
2100 hrs the log reads, “What a day, the best yet, great winds, wing
on wing and auto works like never before. We assign Auto to the night
watch duty tonight and Haydn and I had a rum, thanks to Trisha & Kaspar
Schibli, and head for the bulk.”
Goes something like this. It’s 0130 hrs in the morning when we are awakening
by the thumping engine noise of a freighter, I run out on deck and I’
m amazed by this very large grey black silhouetted sheet of steel that
passes us to our port side within 100 m. As she triumphantly powers by
the freighter’s watch keeper turns on one of his million candle watts
bridge lights to assist us with our vision. Yep, that was a freighter
all right. Maybe Auto does not make a great helmsmen! Haydn and I proceed
to call up the Japanese Quartermaster on watch and ask if he would mind
advising us if there is any other traffic in the area as there was no
need to ask for a range and bearing for a position update. That day we
spotted two more deep sea vessels headed for Japan and we could not raise
them on the VHF. Hopefully someone was in the bridge standing watch like
the freighter we awoke to ten hours before.
So, we have Auto working now, have learnt a little about standing a watch
and have reached the trade winds to start our great circle route to Maui
1470 NM bearing 230 degrees.
The Trade wind ride lasted for 11 days of down wind sailing at 230-degrees,
wing on wing at 6 & 7 knots of boat speed surfing down 6 to 10 foot
Now this is what you dream about. At twenty years old the world is an
open horizon! The boat hatches are all open, flying fish are landing in
the boat, and it’s flat, sunny, warm, and dry! Our daily routine now
goes: sleep, sleep, eat, read, sleep, eat, read, watch for sheet chaffing,
and oh by the way, drag our feet in the water for approximately six hours
During our daily runs we would rig up a bosun chair off the end of the boom
and drag ourselves along through the water. This placed you in a position
to see astern as well as boat and it’s keel charging along through the water!
Day 17 – July 11th at 1740 hrs
The log reads “We have just launched Gary Nickel’s carved log into the
ocean at the following position:
Lat 28 degrees 41 minutes N
Long 141 degrees 49 minutes W
922 NM from Maui
Our friend Gary presented us a log carving on our departure from the
RVYC and asked us to cast it off to sea. The log contained a drawing
and engraved description about our trip. The description included dates,
names, contact info if found, and a summary of our adventure. The entire
log was sealed in many coats of epoxy and floated quite nicely. To date
the piece has not been returned.
Day 18 – July 12th at 0315 hrs
We made contact over the VHF with a motor vessel called Shirley Eye that
was westbound for Oahu and to be used as a dive vessel. They had the
aft deck full of 45-gallon drums of diesel and a fridge full of salmon,
steak, and chicken. They did not offer to drop any off unfortunately!
That evening we enjoyed a fine can of minced meat given to us by the
Townshends’. Thanks! By now we had seen two Vic Maui vessels as well on
the horizon and that day we listened to a radio report announcing that
Maverick finished at 0450 hrs on day 13. By now Haydn and I where sailing
with the chute during daylight hours when the wind and sea allowed us
Day 21 – July 15th at 1600 hrs
An afternoon jibe results in a rip to the chute. We manage to lower
the sail and untangle the mess, however, we feel the rip is too large
for us to fix. So, we sail on into the night wing on wing with the main
Day 22 – July 16th
We make contact with the SV “Sabrina” on 16 VHF. “Sabrina” is a 34’
Pacific Cup vessel headed to Oahu. While in contact with Sabrina the female
on board asks us why we are not using our chute. We explain that we ripped it and need sail repair. So, she gets on the radio and gives us a blast
about not hand sewing it. With only 113 NM to the entrance to Maui we
regroup and start sewing and two hours later the chute is up and “Peg”
is eating up the miles.
Land in sight!
Day 23 – July 17th at 1133 hrs
The log reads “Land in sight,” on the 23rd morning!
All through my early morning watch I could see a masthead and starboard
light on my port quarter. And as the morning awoke I began to identify
the cute as “Thomasine II” from R.V.Y.C. Peter Su, a good friend of ours,
brought my family out to watch us sail off as Haydn and I left for Hawaii
on June 24. “Thomasine II” was part of the Vic Maui race that left on
July 1 from Victoria. So, Peter had managed to catch up to us and we sailed
into the channel off Maui together that afternoon. We asked “Thomasine
II” to radio ahead and ask if we could clear customs in Lahaina as a Vic
Maui spectator boat. We receive a radio transmission advising us to proceed
to Lahaina and call US customs from the finish line. However, as we sailed
past Nakalele Point after having a shower and watching the people on the
shore party to the sounds of Hawaiian music, we called customs again and
they advised us to sail back around to Kuhului through Pailolo channel.
By now the sun had gone down and the wind was up to 25 knots so we proceeded to anchor off Lahaina until daybreak. Boy, that was tough to sit at anchor off Lahaina and listen to all the partying.
Land fall at last!
Day 23 – July 17th, at 2240 hrs
The log reads “Landfall at last,” 23 days after leaving R.V.Y.C. That
evening we would anchor offshore of Lahaina @ 2140. Peg Leg and crew reached our destination after sailing 2700 NM in 23 days 7 hours & 40 minutes.
After that lovely sleep at anchor off Lahina at 0600 hrs July 18th,
Haydn and I lifted the hook and proceeded around to Kahululi under sail
and entered into the harbour at 1115 hrs. As we powered into the harbour
we passed the French steel SV “Rantoplan.” The couple invited us aboard
but we had to decline and proceed immediately to the customs dock. After
tying up the boat I ran up to the office to sign in. After a cold welcoming
the clerk advised me to return to my vessel as she would send for the
customs officials. Five minutes later, two very large Hawaiian men dressed
in the causal Hawaii / Miami vice look drove up in a jeep, jumped out
and immediately started asking questions. Was I the captain? who’s the
other guy? He’s my crew, Haydn! The man in charge and his buddy instructed Haydn to stand at the bow of the vessel, while I went aboard with the skipper. The official acted very guarded and he wanted to see my chart showing our daily noon position since leaving Victoria. At this point,
I tried to be friendly and accommodating. I offered the Customs officer
the opportunity to go below first. Oh no, for your safety and mine I had
to proceed first. Once inside the boat away from his partner and Haydn,
he began asking me a number of questions about drugs, alcohol, firearms
and our money situation. He advised me that we faced a $12,000 US dollar
fine for not clearing into an official US port of entry. At that moment,
knowing we had only $500.00 dollars between us, I explained why we entered at Lahina and spent the night on the anchor. He was not interested in that story and only reminded me how he had issued many fines before!
After drilling me with the questions he then advised that “Peg” would
be impounded and could not leave the dock until we attended at a hearing
on Thursday morning, at his office, at 0900 hrs to discuss the fine.
Once he had that message out of his system he looked at me and said, “Now
go have a beer and enjoy!” Wow night and day! So, Haydn and I did just
that. We walked up to the town’s bank, withdrew some money, and got a
ride to the other side of the island to celebrate our adventure over some
beer and a hamburger. As we walked through the doors at the Lahaina Yacht Club we met up with Peter Sou “Thomasine II” and had a few drinks at the pub and phoned family and friends at home.
During our calls home, we learnt that my girlfriend at the time, Michelle,
Kim and my brother Ryan would be landing in Oahu on Friday morning. It
was already Wednesday night. It seemed that every time we got near or
on land something was sending us back to sea. So, right then we decided
that the following morning after the official meeting we would be off
to sea again for Oahu.
Arriving an hour late for the customs hearing!
After a few beers and a late night partying on the other side of the island we did not make it back to our boat that night. So, when morning came we found ourselves stranded on the wrong side of the island with no form of transportation to get to the meeting with customs. We decided to find Peter, who was resting peacefully that morning in a beautiful hotel in Lahaina. After getting him out of bed, we asked him if he could take us to the Kuhului for our hearing. Peter agreed, smiled, and brought his camera to film the experience for others back home in Victoria to witness.
Picture this: we arrived very late, hung over and accompanied by Peter our photographer! The front desk officials were not impressed. We walked into a room, with the ceiling fan going around, the bright lights and this large man that sat behind a his desk wearing, you guessed it, the Hawaiian shirt! “You are late! Have a sit,” and not a second after we sat, he began giving us a lecture on how one is to clear into a US port of entry. By the end of the session we could have recited the section from the customs book. He again raised the point about the $12,000 US fine and told us how he had fined others for that amount recently. Finally the officer started questioning our cruising plans for our time in Hawaii. It was very clear that we had not done our homework and he was very willing to lay out our terms and conditions while cruising through the Hawaiian Islands. In the end we got our cruising permit and it cost us $200.00 US dollars for the lecture and cruising permit.
OK, Haydn, lets go offshore again! We have been on land for 24hrs.
Day 25 – Thursday July 19th
The log reads “1217 hrs Peg Leg leaves Kuhului Harbour Maui for Honolulu,
Oahu. We enjoyed a 50 nm reach along the North shore of Molokai Island
past the prominent Kalaupapa peninsula and Kahiu point.
This village, now a national historical park, is on Makanalua Peninsula
on Molokai Island’s north coast. A low tongue of lava separated from the
rest of the coast, the remote area is where a band of lepers were forced
ashore in 1866.
Hugging the nearly perpendicular cliffs, the trail is over three miles
(5km) long and descends 1,600 feet (488m) to the peninsula. Along its
course are 26 switchbacks that corkscrew in and out of canyons and ravines.
In 1873, Father Damien, a Belgian priest, came to visit and stayed the
rest of his life ministering to the victims of Hansen’s disease, also
known as leprosy. He caught the disease and died of it in 1889, becoming
the “’Martyr of Molokai Island”.
Day 26 – Friday July 20th at 0200 hrs
14 hours after leaving Kuhului the log reads “Peg” Secured Hawaii Yacht
Club; time for a rum and our first running water shower in 26 days!” Early
Friday morning Haydn and I made arrangements to spend 7 days at the Waikiki
Yacht Club and 7 days at the Hawaii Yacht Club.
Three in the afternoon we headed up to the airport to meet Kim, Michelle,
and Ryan after their trip from Victoria. We spend the next seven days
sharing stories, swimming, and exploring the island.
Haydn had planned to continue sailing south by picking
up a crew position on board a yacht and I had planned to have Michelle
join me in Hawaii and sail back with me to Victoria. However, with news
of Kim’s arrival and the combination of her presence in Hawaii, Haydn’s
plans turned North. Yes, Haydn and Kim were now looking for a ride North
back to Victoria. As this was a Vic Maui year, they had no problem confirming a ride on board SV “Crissa.”
So on July 27th 1990, after spending 8 days on land in Hawaii,
Kim and Haydn are off again for Victoria via the island of Kauai aboard
Crissa. That day we watched Kim and Haydn sail off into the distance
and my brother Ryan fly off into the sky.
Michelle and I spent the next week relaxing, shopping for supplies, and
working on Peg Leg in preparation for our trip to Kauai. We met the commodore of the Hawaii Yacht Club and explained to him how we had towed a fishing line 2700 NM without a bite. Being a power boater with a coloured past for the sport of Marlin fishing, our commodore friend passed on a few ideas and he began to make us two lines as we discussed the finer aspects of fishing over a couple of rums.
That week we also talked to the locals about our passage across the Kauai
Channel to the Island of Kauai and everyone that we spoke to suggested
that we leave at midnight so that we would arrive in Hanalei Bay before
July 31st at 2130 hrs
The log reads, “After 21 hrs of sailing we are at anchor in Hanalei Bay.
We anchored right next to the SV called Rantoplan and as we sailed by
under the mainsail they said, “welcome to paradise” and again like in
Kuhului invited us over for a drink! We secured Peg to the bottom and
Mark & his lady friend Lawrence rowed Michelle and I over to their
40 foot steel sloop boat for that drink in paradise.
The following morning we awoke to the most beautiful bay surrounded with mountains draped in rich green forest and peaks covered with rings of
clouds producing one of the wettest places on earth. One’s mind cannot
begin to imagine this panoramic scene.
On Kauai Time
On August 1st, Michelle and I decided to go hiking on the
Napali Coast for the day. The trailhead is at the end of the road less
than ten minutes from the Jungle and Beach Retreat studio …
Spectacular Kalalau Valley is 11 miles in, but of course, one can hike
any desired length of the Na Pali trail and get rewarded by incredible
views, beaches, caves, and sunsets… I love to hike to Hanakapiai (1st
valley), and you can go on up to beautiful Hanakapiai Falls…WOW!
A day hike in the magical valley to explore groves of mango and bamboo,
swim in pools banked by wild fragrant ginger flowers, and seek out hidden
waterfalls. By boat you can explore sea caves and beaches on the Na Pali
Unfortunately, after this pleasant day ashore we arrived back to the
bay tired and hungry to find that “Peg Leg” had drifted approximately
2000 feet offshore. Fortunately for us someone in the bay noticed that
Peg had drifted that day and came over and let out a pile of scope. I
had to swim out to the boat because Haydn and I had only brought a $19.95
cdn. blow up dingy from Canadian Tire to save room for storage and she
did not row at all. I reached the boat and powered her back into the bay
and anchored her in about 10 feet of water. I also drove down and dug
the anchor into the sand to ensure that flukes were pointed in the right
direction. The log reads, “Next tim time do not buy an imitation CQR and
purchase 250 feet of 3/8 BBB High test chain!”
While on the Island of Kauai we spent our days exploring the island by
hitch hiking and walking. One day we decided to go for diesel, so I used
Mark’s dingy to bring over the kerosene jug to a single hander that had
sailed a 26-foot converted steel hull and wooden gaff rigged lifeboat
from Alaska to Mexico and on to Hawaii while waiting to depart for the
East! The fellow used only Kerosene for his needs and had no power, just
a long oar to skull by. So, I asked if he could use a little Kerosene
(10 gallons) because Haydn and I over did it a little. Boy, you should
have seen his face light up! Off he went in the dark hole of this vessel
and returned with a handful of containers. And I’ll tell you, 90 percent
of them were not capable of sealing. But that did not stop him. Oh,
I tell you he had no navigational equipment or a sextant. Yes, that’s
right; go west until you reach land. However, he made it to Hawaii after
58 days at sea!
The crews of Peg Leg and Rantoplan had decided to depart together for
Victoria. So, we decided to work together by cleaning the hulls of both
boats the day before departing Hanalei Bay. Mark also helped me build
an antenna that I could host up the backstay to increase my VHF range
to allow us to speak to each other during the evenings.
Well after spending 7 full days of meeting new friends, eating together
on different boats and sharing stories while watching the nightly sunsets
from the spot where they made the movie “South Pacific,” the time had
come for us to say goodbye and begin our voyage home to Caddy Bay, Victoria, BC!”
Back to reality, headed North in search of the Westerly Trades
Day 1 – Aug 8th
After 21 full days of exploring by land and sea, in the Hawaiian Islands
the log reads “1615 up anchor and reach out of the bay on a coarse of
350 degrees with a 18 knots Easterly. Wow, one moment you are anchored
in this peaceful bay and the next minute you are reaching up and down
the ten footers!
It’s like sailing to the mouth of Caddy Bay and walking
right into the ocean! After a few hours my stomach did not like this
immediate change and I found myself out flat on the bunk providing little
help to Michelle for the first 30 hours. By noon the following day Michelle
had sailed Peg 120 NM North of Hanalei Bay where we found ourselves making good miles until 0645 hrs on Day 3, Aug 10th. The wind had
changed to a Northerly that morning and went light for the next 18 hours;
we sailed 23 NM.
Day 4 – Sat Aug 11th at 0400
The new breeze comes in and we are off again on our planned heading of
355 degrees at 5 knots for approximately five hours. This would prove
to be the beginning of our on and off again wind. Like our trip down
to Hawaii we had a plan this time to sail north along the 160 degrees
of Longitude as long as we could in order to not turn West until we reached
some westerlies. We managed to sail on this plan for the first five days
in a northerly direction and on Aug 12th, our trip log “read
422 NM sailed. Stay on this heading until the wind comes from the west.”
Remember the Commodore at the Waikiki Yacht Club? Well we caught our
first Mahi Mahi on Aug 13th at 1200 weighing in at 18 pounds.
The fish was caught on a hand line trailing on the surface behind Peg.
Well this day would also be the beginning of a larger unnoticed problem!
The log reads with no specific time, “Good Sailing, Fixed Auto, and we
are enjoying the Mahi Mahi!”
In the middle of the night our wind is from the north and we spend the
next 75 NM sailing on a coarse of 015 degrees. The log for Aug 14th morning reads “Sunrise was beautiful this morning. It was nice to have
wind all night allowing us to make 75 miles so far. The wind is dying.
Saw two albatross this morning. It’s nice to have time, energy and conditions
to clean up the boat.” We decided to power for a few hours this morning
in the calm conditions to power up the batteries as we expect a long conversation over the VHF from a yacht called “Cool Change” and “Quixute” as they receive an updated weather fax. While in Hanalei Bay we asked them to broadcast the weather faxes over the VHF for us to hear, as we could not receive this message aboard Peg Leg.
For the next couple of days we averaged about 70 NM a day and sail east
more than we had planned as a result of the Pacific High which was confirmed on the morning of Aug 17th 0800 hrs by a VHF conversation we
heard between “Cool Change” and “Quixute” stating that the high was positioned at 37 degrees N and 155 degrees W.
To break up the news about light winds and easterly direction, “Peg Leg”
caught its second fish from sea. Initially and for the remainder of the
trip (until someone saw the photos) we thought that we had caught a 50-pound tuna. However, I learned that in fact it was a Wahoo!
A large, powerful fish, usually loners, found well offshore even to mid
oceanic regions. They are voracious predators, swiftly overtaking prey,
of which flying fish and halfbeaks are favourites. Little is known of
their reproductive habits. Wahoo feed on such pelagic species as porcupine
fish, flying fish, herring, pilchards, scad, lantern fish, and small mackerel
and tuna, as well as on squid.
As much as we were having fun, we still had our problems; there was little
wind and an ill autohelm forcing us to hand steer on and off for the last
Day 12 – Aug 19th
Today the autohelm quit on us. I learnt that at the end of the drive
rod is a little toothed plastic wheel that had worn out from the past
3500 NM. I tried fixing it by tightening the belt but the wheel continued
to spin freely within the autohelm 5000. Boy, I wish I had done my homework on those little wheels. When I returned home after 17 days of hand steering, I learnt that I could have avoided hand steering if I purchased a metal replacement wheel for $5.00 cdn.
That day we saw a freighter and made contact by VHF to confirm our position. After confirming our position with the freighter we plotted our great circle route to Cape Flattery. We had a SE wind freshen up from our starboard quarter that allowed us to sail 040 degrees at 6 knots.
Late that evening we would experience something new. We sailed into and
past a small fleet of fishing vessels. At first, my thought was to turn
on my navigation lights and call on the VHF. Instead, we decided it would
be better to turn off the lights and slip away into the dark of the night
Day 13 – Monday Aug 23rd, at 0125 hrs!
Started with a beautiful show of a pod of dolphins surfing down 6-foot
phosphorescence lit waves. The dolphins raced for the bow. I spent the
rest of the evening on deck listening to my favourite radio talk show
in Victoria (CKDA).
The day ended with a lightning storm that was unforgettable. The flashes
of lightning brightened the stars and there were even lightning bolts
hitting the water.
Aug 23rd Thursday 1150 hrs the log reads “We are sailing at
6 and 7 knots in 22 knots of wind from the NE. The wind has increased
10 knots for the first time since our departure from Hanalei Bay. I have
to bear off as we are pounding too much while trying to maintain our course. All afternoon we beat into the sea. We hear good news from “ SV Cool Change” that there are westerly winds around 40 degrees north. We are currently sitting at 38 degrees North. Only 24hrs away!
Aug 24th Friday at 0850 – Our experience with a storm at Sea!
The log reads “still waiting for westerly winds. Come on wind.”
By 1230 in the afternoon we are still beating into a north wind at 18
knots on our great circle route. 5 hours later the wind has increased
and we are sailing in very windy and choppy conditions. “Peg” has a triple
in the main and a single in the jib to reduce sail down to 80%.
On Saturday Aug 25th at no specific time the log reads; “NW
30 knots 18 foot seas. Later that afternoon the wind has increased to
NW 40 knots and 22 foot seas. The waves were particularly steep and I
was caught off guard once when my hand was not secure on the wheel. We
went up over a wave and fell down the other side and for a moment the
rudder was exposed and this allowed the breaking wave to hit the rudder
throwing it hard against the rudder stops! Boy, from that spilt second
on I didn’t let the wheel go for a moment. I also recall as the storm
built I only felt secure once I reduced sail to a point that I felt I
was not stressing out the rig. That reduction really brought about calmness
for the boat and me. From that point on all I had to do was to stay awake
and hold on!
Finally Sunday morning, Aug 26th, the wind began to reduce.
I spent Saturday night on watch alone while Michelle made her self secure
in her bunk for the evening. I didn’t have the cockpit open at all that
night as I got swamped a couple of times. I wonder what she was thinking
while she peered through the plexiglass glass window that night at me.
It had been a very long windy three days to say the least. This pushed
us east of our great route by approximately 110 NM. However, I really
enjoyed sailing in the large swell after the wind had died down. I had
never experienced such a large swell on our trip south. I felt like a
kid at the fair while experiencing the huge rolling sea, 10 knots of wind,
and a fully canvassed boat to motor up and down these huge waves!
Aug 29th, Tonight we spotted a tanker travelling across the horizon. I haled her over the VHF, had a brief discussion about the storm and I asked her to confirm our position. The tanker gave its GPS position to us and a range and bearing from their radar:
41 degrees 03 mins N
134 degrees 41 mins W
At 1720 hrs the tanker confirmed that we are 600 nm SW of Cape Flattery!
For the next couple of days we sailed in good conditions averaging about
110 to 120 nm a day. We are close reached in a NW wind at 10 knots.
By now the water has changed to the grey-blue colour of the west coast
of British Columbia. As we have been sailing north away from the sun
the air temperature is getting cooler by day and night. While sitting
on the low side that afternoon approximately 400 nm offshore of Flattery,
I saw wood chips floating by the hull. We are almost home for sure; wood
chips can only mean one thing: Seaspan Tugs! = British Columbia.
Landfall and welcoming at R.V.Y.C
Day 27 – Sept 3rd, 1118 hrs
The log reads “Land on starboard bow! From a review of the chart we believe we can see Mt.Baldy in Washington which has an elevation of 4247 ft above sea level.” Cape Flattery is 38 nm north east of us and we are making 5 knots of speed. Little notes estimating our arrival are all over the
logbook that day indicating messages like this:
¾ of a day to go!
80 nm to go to Cadboro Bay!
Day 28 – Tuesday September 4th at 0530 hrs
“Peg Leg” is abeam Cape Flattery. We did not make it home for Labour
Day weekend but this didn’t matter to us As we entered Juan de Fuca Strait
we knew today was the day we would reach the R.V.Y.C. and not sleep aboard “Peg!” I cannot begin to explain the feeling of relief once we rounded Cape Flattery; it was like I was sailing in my back yard. I felt so confident, calm, and secure. I listened to the VHF weather radio that morning for the last time. This last leg, wouldn’t you know it, presented another beat, we had been hoping to be treated to a good westerly to bring us home that day. But no such luck
By 0900 hrs that morning the wind dropped to 0 – 2 knots so we decided
to crank up the Yanmar and drive her home! We did not mind powering after all the sailing we had done. On came the music, out came the food, and
I did a little clean up in preparation of our homecoming.
As you will recall, Haydn had returned to Victoria prior to us. As we
were powering down the Canadian shore I spotted the Coast Guard Ship MV
Sir James Douglas steaming West up the Strait. Knowing that Haydn, Shawn,
and myself had worked for the Guard, I had my suspicions about who was
on board! What a fluke this was running into these 2! I called over on
the VHF and guess what? Shawn answered and advised me that Haydn was on board! There he was off to sea again… It was a very different feeling
for me to wave to them as we powered by because Haydn was a big part of
We decided to use the VHF to call our family and friends. We learnt
that they were all starting to get a little worried about us and as you
can imagine were very glad to hear our voices. I recall calling Grandpa
Jack and telling him to meet us at R.V.Y.C. that evening. This was a
very special call and moment for us; needless to say Jack was relieved
and very excited! We also called Rick and Donna and when they heard we
were back they eagerly announced they would sail to meet us off the waterfront!
1750 hrs on Tuesday evening we spot “Out-Patient” Rick and Donna’s boat
powering towards us. Boy, I knew I was really home now. Rick and Donna
had prepared us tunafish sandwiches with lettuce and tomato, chocolate
milk and beer. We powered along side each other all the way back to Cadboro Bay discussing our adventures. I saw excitement and relief in Rick’s face!
The last log entry for our “Perfect Passage Across the Pacific”
The log reads “after sailing across a vast area like the Pacific, the
first piece of reality comes when you try to manoeuvre back into your
slip at RVYC. Let’s just say, I’ve done it better!”
Day 28 – Tuesday at 2130 hrs
The log reads “Peg Leg” is secure at RVYC, 28 days after leaving Hanalei
Bay Kauai. “Peg Leg” and crew reached their final destination after sailing
2650 nm in 28 days 21 hours1 hours & 30 minutes.
Similar to our departure from R.V.Y.C., we are greeted by a dock full
of friends and family! This was the greatest feeling for me. I especially
remember being greeted by my jubilant Grandpa Jack with a hug and a cheer the same way he saw us off on that afternoon on June 24. I also clearly remember leaning over the lifelines to hug my Grandmother and someone yelling out “how long have you been gone for Dale?” and my grandmother quickly responding “75 long days!” So, with that Jack invited all to the bar for a drink to celebrate our passage.
Legs | Passages | Distances
Peg Leg 1990 Victoria to Hawaii and back to Caddy Bay.
R.Y.V.C. to Maui 2700 NM 24 days
Maui to Honolulu 80 NM 1 day
Honolulu to Hanalei Bay 105 NM 1 day
Hanalei Bay to RVYC 2650 NM 28 days
We sailed approximately 5500 NM sailing miles.
Plus 21 full days of exploring the Hawaiian Islands by land and sea.