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Rough First Time

Rough First Time

July 7th, 2008  · stk

A trip to California with the Oop, a new hot-tub project and the normal run of web work ... things have been pretty thin at Randsco for a while. We recently took a family boat trip to the floating cabin . Read about the adventurous ordeal in this floating cabin log entry.

First Solo Trip to the Floating Cabin

Our first solo trip to the floating cabin was very memorable. Some of the memories will actually be GOOD ONES!

A flat tire, a bloody nose, getting hung up on the dock while launching, a rough-as-cobb trip (during which, we almost turned the boat around and headed for home), a four-hour boat ride, locked out of the cabin and running out of gas ... are some of the not-so-good ones.

We're new to the floating cabin and also to our boat. As a bunch of newbies, we're learned a BUNCH of valuable lessons during our ill-fated trip! HA!

There were some positive events. Despite pouring rain all Friday night and Saturday morning, it did - eventually - clear up and we had a rain-free (and sometimes sunny) Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. We spotted a couple of sea otters (a baby one on the back deck, which we watched from about five feet away). We also saw loads of bald eagles and a few bear (one of which we watched all morning, as it meandered along the beach, flipping rocks and eating various sea creatures). We met a few of our cabin neighbors. We also learned where we can get gas, along the way to the cabin.

To read the cabin log entry from our first solo trip to the floating cabin ...

Cabin Log - July 3rd, 4th & 5th

The adventure began before we even made it to the cabin. Heck, it began before we drove as far as Parksville, just north of Nanaimo, while we were towing the boat down the highway.

POW! Flap ... flap ... flap!

A look in the rear-view mirror showed a flat tire on the boat trailer. Stopping, we saw that it wasn't just any old flat tire, but a catastrophic failure. The tire blew out and caught the back edge of the trailer fender, bending it into to the wheel well and destroying the aluminum license plate, in the process.

Fortunately, the truck jack and lug wrench worked (kinda) on the trailer, so we were able to get the trailer jacked up and the wheel off (all the time while traffic whizzed by in the freeway and Rachel did her best to direct traffic into the passing lane). Because we happened to be bringing along an 8-pound sledge (to bash up the big rock that causes the cabin-to-shore walkway to list crazily, at low tide) Scott used it to bang the trailer fender back into place.

With the tire off, Scott and Alex headed into Parksville, where he bought two new trailer tires ... not the cheap, old car tires that are currently on the trailer.

While Scott was putting on the new tire and wheel, the spinning wheel and lug nut wrench slipped out of his hands and bashed the tip of the wrench into his nose, ripping it open and spewing blood onto his shirt and onto the roadway!

New trailer tire in place and with a throbbing nose, we drove the rest of the way to Port Alberni. We stopped in, to visit with Candace (one of the main cabin owners). She's recently had arthroscopic surgery on her knee and is recuperating. When we arrived, she was sitting in the front yard, reading a book in the bright sunshine.

We tempt her with an offer to haul her to the cabin, but she declined the invitation.

In town, we picked up our annual fishing licenses, adult refreshments, and fuel supplies (stove oil, kerosene, propane and 2-cycle engine oil). It's now time to launch "Blue Yonder".

Having been born and raised in the desert, Scott is pretty 'brand new' to the whole ocean and boating scene. It showed when he went to launch the boat, getting too close to the dock and managing to get the trailer and truck into a "situation" (where neither could be moved forward or backward, very easily). It took the better part of an hour, plus the help of 4 other people, to get the trailer/truck disengaged from the side of the dock. Fortunately, we came away with only minor damage to the truck and trailer, but Scott (bloody nose and all) suffered major ego bruising and learned a very valuable lesson - there is such a thing as "too close to the dock", when launching a boat!

So now it's 4 PM and we're finally on our way to the cabin.

The waters in channel are rough as all get-out and the boat ride is poundingly painful, so Scott slows it right down. BAM! BAM! The boat is lifted high, then slams down and water sweeps over the deck and canopy. (Of course, with a soft-top, it means oodles of water leaking in, despite having sealed the front windshield shut with "sikaflex". Heck, it's even leaking water into the cuddy cabin, entering along the seam, where the top of the deck is mated to the fiberglass hull.)

It's rough going, for sure!

Then, Rachel says, "Do you hear that sound? I think something is wrong with the 'leg'. I think we should turn around and go back."

Scott stops the boat dead in the water and we have a debate about what to do. Divorce is mentioned during the debate (and even a couple of four letter words) ... "boat" among them.

Against Rachel's desires, we press on. At some point, the waves lessen and Scott is able to open up the throttle. We get 'on plane' and put up with the pounding that results, just happy to be traveling at 24 miles per hour, instead of four. The boat (sound of the leg) seems OKAY and we're finally making some headway to our destination, some 35 miles away.

We get to the cabin at 8 PM, just in time for Alex's bedtime. We put the key in the padlock and then try to undo the deadbolt. None of the keys work! We've left the newly cut key (the one that works) at home! We're locked out!

We've come all this way - flat tire, busted nose, hung up on the dock, rough waves, argument about the leg, almost turning around - and now we can't get into the cabin?!

We're tired and pissed off (at ourselves and the world in general). Our first trip to the cabin has ended in disaster.

We hunker in the boat, get Alex in her pajamas and eat chocolate chip cookies, potato chips and a peanut butter sandwich for dinner. Yummy. :| With no where else to go, we prepare the boat for sleeping (of course, we have no blankets and Rachel is worried about being cold).

It turns out to be a crappy night's sleep, even though there was hardly a wave. We were fighting off mosquitoes all night, trying to stay warm using only the clothes on our back and a thin sheet. The Oop slept the best of everyone, in the cuddy with Dad, while Mom took a folded out seat (which she said was more comfortable than it looked).

The next morning, we padlocked the propane tanks, gas tanks, kerosene, stove oil and other stuff into the shed. We hid the 12-foot kayak on shore, in the brush. Then we boarded the boat and headed back up the Alberni Inlet, planning on just heading straight home.

The ride up the inlet was smooth and easy. Waves were less than a foot and the weather was cloudy but dry. It was a nice, fast ride back and as we pulled into Port Alberni, we debated getting the key from Candace and heading out again.

Rachel and Alex left Scott with the boat tied up in the river and took the truck in search of Candace and the keys. Within an hour, they were back with both keys and a fast-food lunch. We turned the boat around and headed back to the cabin for the second time.

The trip back was uneventful, with on exception. We started the journey with over a half of tank of fuel, according to the gas gauge. By the time we got to the cabin, the gas needle was firmly planted on "Empty". :( (Fortunately, we'd brought five gallons of extra fuel).

We ignored the gas situation, as we were just happy that we could get into the cabin. We unloaded the boat and set down the two crab traps (using an old chicken leg and some halibut scraps, we landed two huge 'keepers'!) Yay ... crab!

We also spotted a young mother bear and her cub, not far from the cabin, on shore. Scott managed a couple of blurry photos (we need to start a blurry wildlife photo album)! Scott took the kayak out to get a closer shot, but the bears beat it into the bush, when he got too close.

Friday night it rained hard, but we were snuggly warm and dry, sleeping in the cabin. It rained all morning on Saturday and we hung out in the cabin, periodically checking the crab traps. We tossed the small ones back and kept only the big males, but our crab tally was increasing. Scott fell into the water, off the gangplank to shore, because it was slippery and listing badly (really need to bash up the rock that's causing it to twist at low tide .. and add some anti-skid fabric to the walking surface).

The afternoon dried out and Scott got another series of blurry wildlife photos - this time of a blue heron, fishing in the nearby creek. Oh, speaking of wildlife, I forgot to mention that we spotted a baby ocean otter on the back deck, yesterday. It wasn't five feet from where we were standing, rubbing its face on the deck as it walked along, using it as a napkin.

Scott did spend some time pounding the sledgehammer against the offending gangway rock, but only managed to chip off a few tiny shards (and get a blister in the process). Foiled by the rock, Scott found success at high tide by pulling in a nice, long, straight floating log. He lassoed it with a rope and towed, pushed and pulled it to the cabin using the kayak, where we tied it off with some other "found" logs. (You never know when you might need to use a long floating log). ;)

We both took turns kayaking. Scott went with the Oop, over to Ken's cabin, where two guys were scuba diving underneath, removing mussels and other clinging debris. Then they headed across the water, investigating other unoccupied cabins, making a big loop and returning. Later, Rachel took the kayak, at high tide, up the nearby creek (Scott jokingly warned her, "Don't lose your paddle. You'd hate to be up that creek without a paddle!")

It looks like the kayaks will be a great addition to the cabin (once we lash down and drag out the second one, visitors can go off to have their own little 'mini-adventures'.

We had a dinner of BBQ steak and crab on the front deck. It was a tad chilly, but at least it wasn't raining!

After dinner, Scott again took the kayak out. Along the way, he spotted an otter, black bear and the eagle (sitting on 'his rock' overlooking an inlet).

Back at the cabin, we walked down to the last of the three cabins tied together and met Bill and Bob (friends of Gary's, who owns the cabin). They had spent the day fishing, but hadn't gotten anything.

Sunday morning dawned dry and we had a lazy bacon and egg breakfast, then sat on the deck watching a black bear turn over rocks all morning. He was finding lots of stuff to eat and we could see him munching away, through the binoculars.

We hate to leave (especially after all the headache involved in just getting to the cabin). Until next time ...

-Scott, Rachel & the Oop

P.S. - We're worried about having enough gas to make it all the way back.

Epilogue: Though we had learned of a couple of places to get gas on the way back we bypassed both, in favor of 'pushing it' and finding out exactly what kind of range the boat had. The gas gauge read "just over half", after putting in our spare 5 gallons. It was still at half by the time we got to the first gast pull-in, but it was just above "E" when we passed the second.

In hindsight, we should have stopped at the second, because we ran out of gas not too far past it. It was a good test for the spare, 2-cycle 9.9 horsepower "kicker" motor though, which we used to head back to get gas. It took us nearly an hour to make it there, fill up and hit the water at full-speed again. Sure is a big difference in speed (and time)!

We've learned lots from our first trip! We've now got new trailer tires. We know our boat has about a 100-mile range, that we can only go up and down to the cabin three times on a full tank and that once you get to half a tank, you'd better fill up - SOON! Oh yeah, the cabin key is with the boat key (and we have a spare).

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1.flag Rachel Comment
In hindsight, despite everything, it was fun. Maybe it is all the misadventure that made it such a memorable trip. The best part of it, however, was spending three and a half days with my hubby and daughter.

Thanks, Scotty, for doing such a good job of documenting the mis-adventures to help us remember this trip, and laugh, in the years to come.
2.flag stk Comment
Overcoming adversity is the handmaiden of adventure. :D (OKAY ... I just made that up, but it does seem that it's the worst stuff that makes the memories more vivid and humorous).

If you can't laugh at yourself, who can? (Hmmm ... don't answer that) :p

It certainly was an "adventure" though! (Forgot to mention that we killed a few crab, in the process).
3.flag Gran Pilley Comment