Cruising Log of the ForeverGreen

Cruising Log of the ForeverGreen

LOA = 26'

LWL = 24'

Beam = 9.6"

Draft = 32"

88 HP Yanmar

Max Speed 11.5 knots

Cruising Speed 7 - 10 knots

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[Poulsbo 2001]

July 28 through August 5, 2001

ForeverGreen, a Santa Barbara moored cruiser, owned by Dr. Roderick Fraser Nash, visited the Fraser River the last week of July first week of August 2001. ForeverGreen is a 26 foot Nordic Tug that has been modified to 28 feet by the addition of a swimming platform. She was launched in 1989. Since then this vessel has been everywhere from Alaska to the Sea of Cortez and has circumnavigated Vancouver Island. She is maintained in Bristle fashion, appearing new.

Prior to taking on a crew from the Murrelet, the pocket cruiser was trailered from San Francisco Bay to Anacortes on Puget Sound. Her captain views trailering as more dangerous than coastal ocean cruising, being able to compare this mode of transit to frequent ocean trips south from the coastal town of Santa Barbara near Los Angeles California. But trailering is much faster. At 10,000 lbs ForeverGreen's tractor is a standard van with a high end engine.

Nordic Tugs are well known in Anacortes, the manufacturer being near the port in Burlington and a dealer active there. ForeverGreen may be one of the best known of her kind owing to the Vancouver island circumnavigation and several Alaskan inside passages. Her captain is frequently asked to review and comment on cruising guides for these waters.

The streaming media to the left follows ForeverGreen's adventures. Click on the photo of ForeverGreen and Captain Nash and Crew Member Lisa Mighetto (to the left) for a slide show. While loading, review the material below. Use the right mouse button on links to open a new window. After fully loading, position your mouse over a slide for captions.

Day 1 - Cypress Island

anacortes to eagle cliffLeaving from the Port of Anacortes, rough seas were encountered, and while no one felt ill (as is common on the first day of cruises), ForeverGreen's captain quickly altered plans. Instead of anchoring at shallow cove Suchi island we achored at Cypress Island. Later we obtained a mooring ball, the anchor holding only g rass and therefore being unacceptable.

This provided the opportunity of surveying sea conditions from the top of Eagle Cliff. The raptor breading season had just ended and the trail to the top had just been opened. Few boats were spotted from the top of the cliff and none had sails. Winds were likely stronger than desirable. After rowing back to the tug by way of her Zodiac raft, we set about learning the standard operating procedures for the vessel. All cruising boats have slightly different procedures especially in regards to storing personal gear and bedding down.

Most vessels over 25 feet are being marketed to sleep six. But this is rarely advisable. Nonetheless ForeverGreen is wide with plenty of cabin top and fore and aft deck space and I do not doubt that six could be tolerated aboard her. She has a huge dry lazarette and a large amount of gear can be stored there. During the first night, crew snoring kept all but the snoree awake and after a short discussion a white noise maker was deployed in the forward birth. This solved the problem for the duration of t he voyage because there is no door separating compartments so all non snoring occupants benefit when ForeverGreen's battery operated HomeMedics white noise maker, kept aboard for emergencies such as this, is switched on.

Day 2 - Steveston, Ladner Marsh

Sucia Is. to Tumbo chanel

Having computed the tides, we cast off the next morning to make best advantage of them. Our course took us past Suchi to Tumbo where we initially were confused by a rip tide that looked suspiciously like a reef and made entrance to the channel appear much smaller than actual. Very large bald eagles were spotted through out the channel which we didn't break out of until abeam Boat Pass. Once in the Strait of Georga the auto pilot was set and functioned well during the first watch, though wave conditions eventually over whelmed it and the captain took over, surfing the waves to keep us all comfortable. On the first watch a particualarly large ferry boat wake broak over the bow. Standard procedure on the ForeverGreen is to turn the bow into wakes and call out so that persons below can find something to hold onto or secure gear. The procedure was executed flawlessly several times during the voyage. Though we did not cross on one of the 3 out of 10 days it is considered calm in the strait, the passage was not unpleasant.

The captain asked about rouge waves, there being an incident in the Seattle papers the prior winter. I explained that I thought they might be caused by two 8 foot ferry boat wakes combining. I didn't tell him the theory that the victims had been wake jumping their Zodiac, this being an unofficial sport for several years. The young men were rescued in full wet suites on an island hours later, the Zodiac continuing on without them. Without the suits they would not have survived.

I noted that the wind was favorable for cruising sail boats (12 to 17 MPH) as measured by a hand held wind meter. We spotted several sailing cruisers, two flying spinnakers. The boats with sails appeared to have an easier time passagemaking, the sails dampening the roll of the sea. We missed the resident pod of killer whales which usually are between Active Pass and the Fraser River Delta.

Strait of Georga The ferry boats leaving Active Pass and heading south of the Fraser River delta for terminals north of Point Roberts were always visible and eventually navigation aids at Sand Heads for the Steveston Jetty were spotted and we thereby avoided the Roberts mud bank and reached Garry Point and the Steveston fuel dock. We were asked to pull forward to a slower pump, the fast pumps being reserved for commercial vessels. After fueling, our Yanmar diesel would not start. The commercial boat operators were happy to lend assistance. I got the impression that they viewed the Nordic Tug as a kindred spirit. "Yanmar engines are excellent" they agreed, it has to be the starter, solenoid or ignition switch. Our captain called Vessel Assist at which point Lisa, an excellent cruise planner, noted that this particular fuel dock was suppose to hav e a shower.

None being found in the women's facility, the men's was checked and her information verified. She promptly took over the men's bathroom and was pleased that there had been an engine delay. ForeverGreen has an onboard shower with hot water. But there is always a water budget to be concerned with on cruising boats. We later found out that the shower drain had been plugged purposefully to cut engine noise, and an on deck sun shower had been rigged to replace it.

The Captain and I, both owning or having owned sports cars, pondered the starting problem and decided to try an old sports car trick. With a wrench and then a hammer he lightly tapped the starter. Not unexpectedly the engine then started up with out probl em. We used the trick several times during the next few days, the captain keeping Vessel Assist appressed of our situation, and setting up a Yanmar mechanic appointment for later in the week.

We left the fuel dock to motor 200 yards or so to the Steveston Museum, site of the Gulf of Georga Cannery which closed in 1979, but finding no guest moorage were obliged to take one of the gill netter's slips. A local sail boat had also done so and her owner explained that this was accepted by the gill netters when the fleet was out, which it was. Nonetheless, he advised us to leave a cell phone number taped to the cabin door just in case the gill netter returned. We used that procedure at subsequent questionable ties. I am now convinced that the modern cruiser needs to be equipped with a such a phone, radio being unacceptable for shore communications and it often being standard for cruisers to use government docks in spite of signage saying otherwise. Each slip beneath the Gulf of Georgia Cannery was carefully marked as private with the name of the vessel it was intended for. But we were told that all slips were Canadian government property also intended for vessels in transit, such as ours.

We found the Steveston museum worthwhile, and there is an execelent pub (the Buck and Ear) away from the tourist area. The Chart House Restaurant there is not one of the chain restaurants that I have become accustomed to. It may be an excellent restaurant but it does not serve mud pie. So we returned to our vessel to see what the Captain had in mind for dinner. He had secured a salmon from a local fisherman and very much wanted to find a spot suggested and eat at anchor. Which we did, under the watchful eye of a bald eagle and a multitude of birds all of which moved up or down trees depending on the location of the predator. It was quite a dinner show at Ladner Reach on marsh side of a crescent shaped island. With neither the condos of Ladner or the marina visible, our spot was ideal. A shallow draft boat has its choice of wilderness anchorages in this area which is close to Reifel Island which has the largest Canadian Christmas day bird count.

Day 3 - Pitt Lake

The Pitt River enters the Fraser at Douglass Island. Pitt Lake is about 9 miles from there and a towing operation contracted by Vessel Assist is on the way. The Captain had planned a side day excursion to Pitt Lake, perhaps on the way back. But now it made sense to proceed up the Pitt. I figured that any engine problems could be handled by a quick drop of anchor followed by a cell phone or radio call and I discussed this with the captain who obviously had thought the same before embarking. We bypassed the Gill Netter bar near the towing operation, a missed opportunity, by my way of thinking, and instead stopped at a small marina where we gathered information about the state of affairs at the lake.

We learned that an Indian band held a claim on land near the lake and that non Indians were likely to have cabins burned when the leases ran out in about 5 years. We were also told that there were bears, and because there were seals there must be fish. There was indead a hot spring past the lake. We were told to look at the facilities at Christain Cove, our first choice of destination being in the Indian claim area and recently abandoned.

It should be obvious from the above that Pitt Lake is unusual. It is one of only two tidal fresh water lakes in the world and possible owing to that is a provincial park. The tide is 4 hours from A ___ at the marina, and 6 at the lake, a fact that should be known but is published no where (as far as I know) and is usefull information for those going to Christian Cove because cutting out of the channel can lead to a grounding. I have since learned that rain run off makes tide height predictions useless. Nonetheless, the time of high tide is valuable information and we found local knowledge of it, though we were confused by the 2 hour difference between high at the lake versis high at the Pitt river marina, since the distance is a short one.

Christain Cove, a geographical name, is one of those places where magic happens. Sometimes a nice place can delay a cruise like bad weather and this is what happened to us on the ForeverGreen at Pitt Lake.

After meeting the other boaters, we were treated to a hot tub and bond fire. There were stories about Vancouver Island circumnavigations and a Mac26x being transported to Holand with its mast and stainless steel fittings being taken from her in route. As a result of that evening, Lisa added Vancouver island's West side to our Mac26x cruising destination list. I had been working on that authorization for years and happily set out reviewing the ForeverGreen's on-board literature regarding Vancouver Islan d which the captain cheerfully provided, though he did feal that an Alaskan Inside passage was more challenging. Owing to high cliffs, the cell phone and radio were useless. We didn't care.

All the boaters hoped to reach Harison Hot Springs via the Fraser river, as we did. But they intended to leave their cabin cruisers at Christain Cove and make the trip up to Harison in small motor launches that had been towed for that purpose. I suspect that many ocean going cruisers visit Pitt Lake for the fresh water which kills ocean growth. I noted such growth on the vessels in attendance.

Day 4 - Pitt Lake

Having determined that one day Lisa and I would return in our power sailer. I spent the next day observing conditions. Owing to tide, the beach areas diminish on highs. But if there has been sun at lower tides, the water is warmed by the hot beach. So for a brief period of time - perhaps an hour before the tide ebbs - it is possible to swim in the lake's otherwise cold water, which we did. Personal water craft were observed, but not many, and the tour boats from Westminster Quay move slowly so that pictographs, gold mines, water falls, and wild life can be enjoyed. Hence, there is little in the way of wakes to be concerned with.

I was told that there is a predictable breeze on the south end in the evening and both evenings observed same. On the north end, we were told that a logging operation is run by the "Hells Angles". I do not know if this was just a joke, or a sales pitch for a guide, but in any case we found spirited wind there. The captain noted that dropping anchor would not help us should we have engine trouble owing to the 250 foot water depth right up to a cliff wall and the wind which was certainly capable of slamming us into it. We considered tying to the government dock used by the logging operation. But having only one bicicle on board, and knowing that the hot spring might be 20 miles up the logging road, there wasn't a compelling enou gh reason to make acquaintance with the angles. And there was the issue of bears. So we returned to Christian Cove.

Canadian's love their logging heritage. When logging old growth by helicopter became commercially viable, property in-holders at the lake undoubtedly became fascinated with it. Christian Cove is scared by such logging, apparently the result of a government unwilling to wait for a tax payment and an owner tired of being hounded. But my discussions with the owner seamed to indicate that he wasn't happy about having one of perhaps a half dozen small logged areas on the lake. His lodge literature implies that a pristine environment is to be expected. You can get that by avoiding a glance to his cliff. But the scar is healing and it is hardly a clear cut.

We did note a new structure where every tree on a steep squarish patch of slope had been recently logged. Why someone would want to build on that devastation or diminish the property value of his neighbors in that manner is beyond me. Only love of logging explains this peculiar behavior.

That night the crew of the ForeverGreen BBQed the last of the salmon and welcomed a group of massage students who arrived in Christian Cove's Air Castle cruiser which was bu ilt by her owner who also owns Christian Cove. This was a party group, and the Johnny Cash toon "I have been every where" seamed to be a favorite. Since the ForeverGreen has been every where on the west coast of north America it became the unofficial crews song. You can play it by pressing the arrow on the Java applet at the top of this page. The Air Castle has davits to support the same kind of small motor launch our fellow boaters used that day to hopefully reach Harrison Hot springs. Our fellow boaters did not return that night and we never caught up with them. I assume they found lodging at Harrison Lake and returned the next day.

Day 5 - Barston Island

Our trip down the Pitt was speedy (about 9 knots at 2,500 RPM). So when we turned up into the Fraser, we were somewhat dissappointed, dropping to 3.5 to 4 knots. This was one of the few times the tidal push was not in our favor. Our intended distination w as Fort Langley, a national historic site, but the going was slow and soon tiresome. I could hardly believe that square riggers sailed these waters as far as the Fort and specualated that they must have been towed, dragged, or polled, or perhaps they never did so, waiting instead for the goods to be rafted to them and carting the exchange overland.

The Pitt and Fraser are peppered with dolphins that are used for log ties. All of the Pitt river dolphins were empty but most of the Fraser ones were in use. Our captain thought we might be able to tie up to one for a rest, but we believed the unused d olphins on the Fraser were unused for a reason - perhaps they were rotted out.

Eventually the captain instructed us to prepare an anchor. ForeverGreen's Fortress anchor is very light, possible less than 12 lbs, and lighter than the one I carry on my sailboat. But in combination with a boat length of chain it dug in with enthusiasm on the down stream side of Barston Island. This was in stark contrast to our experience at Cyprus Is. It bit with such force that I was certain it would be difficult to retrieve later. On request, the captain checked my half hitch knot around the Samson post. I had never used one before, and his instructions confused me. He deemed my work satisfactory.

I was bothered all night by tugs madly running up river at full speed that put up large wakes. But apparently the others slept well because they were unaware of the volume of river traffic that night. This was an anchorage where one needs an anchor light and fortunately ours was steady.

The anchor came up with out to much problem and I recognized the advantage of a light one. By dunking it several times the captain was able to clean the anchor before bringing it on deck. But he still instructed me to get a bucket and wash things off. Dirty water on a dirty deck leaves a dirty deck, so the result of my washing wasn't good. We reached the fort.

Day 6 - Fort Langley and Mission and Bridge Point

In early August Fort Langley hosts Fur Brigade Days. This is to celebrate the shipping of bulk provisions by bateux (a rowing vessel) to Fort Hope up river and the collection of furs from the interior. Possible owing to preparations for the merriment, we found the Fort somewhat cruiser unfriendly. Having been told by one of the tour boats that no other tours were scheduled for the day we tied up under a do not dock here notice, and thought little of that, based on prior experience at government moorages such as that at Steveston. Having posted the cell phone number on the cabin door it was a very short time in the bar before the call came forcefully recommending that we move before a tour boat came needing the space.

Because the explaination that a to ur boat had told us there were no more tours that day did not get the expected response, and after finishing our lunch, perhaps a bit slowley in defiance, the ForeverGreen was slung arround a piling (not unlike a rocket around the moon) to the same spot o n the shore side of the dock. This is a very long dock, but the caller was convinced that the tour boat would need all of it, and I believe if the boat was the stern wheeler, that would have been true. Of course none came during the several hours we visit ed the fort.

At the fort, the Captain peppered the historians with questions, and we were all impressed at the quality of the answers. Yes boats sailed to the fort in spite of the current. But as soon as the steam ship Beaver arrived the sailing crews would have no ne of that, and there was never more than one visit by sail per year. We were all amused by the answer regarding whether or not Fraser, for whom the river is named and a relation to our captain, was a Canadian hero. The answer was that Canada has no heros in the sence we were thinking, at which point a young boy dissagreed, noting Wane Grezky, the great hockey player. We also thought funny the Indian name for the white man which roughly translates in to "those who are always hungry". The Coast Salish band could not be convinced to enter the fur trade, prefering instead to stick with salmon harvesting. All the fur the Fort handled was collected from other areas with Fort Langly serving as the interior depot for the inland Hudson's Bay Company trading posts .

I learned that Oregon Territory, from which my home state, the evergreen state and the birth place of Forevergeen, was derived, included this part of British Columbia. All parts sharing a common water shed. So when that topic came up it was interesting to think about what might have been if the US had not been weakened by a civil war when James Douglas proclamed British Columbia a Crown Colony at Fort Langley in the summer of 1858.

ForeverGreen went further up the river to Mission. It was here that we could see it was short about 10 feet of water for this time of year. A railroad bridge marking making that obvious. It would be very difficult going much further. So after visiting Mission, which I liked because of the big pub sign and the friendly offers to drive the crew to the community swim center where showers are availible. The swim center is an easy walk to the marina. But this is not true from there because there is a heafty freeway ramp and hill to negotiate. The captain turned the boat over to his crew, went to sleep and we made excellent time to New Westminster Quay and Bridge Point via the middle fork of the river, where the Yanmar mechanic was to meet us the next day and didn't hit a log or other flotsom the entire way.

Day 7 - Vancouver

Ron Chee, looked sheepishly and sighed "glad it worked" while leaving the ForeverGreen. My gut told me the starter and solinoid replacement might not take. The captain and I had spent considerable time trying to plan our encounter with the mechanic. The trick of tapping the starter was annoying but hardly a show stopper, and we had hoped to keep the parts, which Ron Chee needed to bring back to his shop for exchange with the parts supplier. The mechanic had decided to replace the starter in spite of pape r work provided demonstrating that it had recently been refurbished.

But after ForeverGreen started flawlessly a dozen times we had little leverage and Ron Chee did spend extra time with the Captain teaching him how to bypass the ignition system, and providing other valuable engine information that exceeded book price for the service. We let him and the parts go. In hind sight we should have offered to mail the parts to his supplier our self and kept them at least through the week end and the upcoming Monday holiday.

Cruising often involves politics, and the US had not been kind to Canada while we visited. A tariff had been placed on Canadian lumber, the US president had succeded in moving forward with oil exploration in an area where Canadian carabou breed, and he had flatly rejected the possibility of sending more electricity from Canada to California, which owing to drought and some industry manipulation, could not cleanly generate it or cheaply purchase it at the time.

While we were delayed by loggers in the middle fork, I doubt they knew we were a US vessel. ForeverGreen is a chartered vessel, and the Captain preferred to fly no flags whatsoever. There were a couple of "flag freak" comments from Capain Nash during our voyage but I am not certain what they were in reference to. I know that flag traditions have changed over the years and that there are disagreements regarding what is proper with Chapman's by no means the authority, the author falling into the "freak" category. On a vessel like ForeverGreen, the absence of flags does not diminish her classic lines. This is not true on my own vessel Murrelet which compromises on tradition, that compromise being less obvious when flying flags. Upon calling the Vancouver Yacht Club for moorage, the desirability of at least a courtesy Canadian flag became apparent. We were immediately invited to the club, there being so many topics for interesting discussion, and the captain, having a blazer and slacks aboard, agreed to attend and became interested in the flags I offered from my duffel. Lisa and I planned to catch a train that evening.

We really wanted the experience of cruising under Lions Gate and so the ForeverGreen docked at the inner Vancouver Yacht Club floats, quite away from the dinner event, with the idea that her crew would catch a cab and the captain would single hand to the event. But the engine once stopped would not start and the tapping trick would not work with the new starter. What is worse is that Vancouver's bus strike had not yet been called off so there were no cabs, those being used by rush hour commuters. So Lisa and I could not get to the train station and the Captain could not get to his dinner.

The crew made the best of the poor situation, having a wonderful dinner at a piano bar ashore. The Captain worked off his melancholy somehow reaching the Yanmar dealership's owner who agreed to personally visit the next morning which was the first day of the three day holiday. I suppose the timing saved the Forevergreen's next crew from an awkward delay. I doubt that anything could have been done to get her going for at least three days had the faulty new starter been discovered after quiting time on Friday.

My theory on what happened with the new starter is that suppliers no longer test returned parts. Instead they send it on to the next mechanic and only if the part is sent back a second time is the part marked defective.

We arrived home in Seattle on Saturday. Had a fine sail with friends on Sunday and received a message from ForeverGreen on our service that her third starter was working.

The following list of birds were spotted in or near the Fraser River Delta:

  1. Red-winged Blackbird
  2. Bushtit
  3. Black-capped Chickadee
  4. American Coot
  5. Double-crested Cormorant
  6. Northwestern Crow
  7. Bald Eagle
  8. Purple House Finch
  9. Canada Goose
  10. Pigeon Guillemont
  11. Herring Bonaparte's Gull
  12. Green-backed Great Blue Heron
  13. Rufus Hummingbird
  14. Steller's Jay
  15. Dark-eyed Junco
  16. Killdeer
  17. Belted Kingfisher
  18. Common Loon
  19. Mallard
  20. Osprey (nest with young)
  21. Common Raven
  22. Red-winged Blackbird
  23. Bushtit
  24. Black-capped Chickadee
  25. American Coot
  26. Double-crested Cormorant
  27. Northwestern Crow
  28. Common Raven
  29. American Robin
  30. Surf Scoter
  31. Song Sparrow
  32. Barn Swallow
  33. Cliff Swallow
  34. Trumpeter Swan
  35. Common Tern
  36. Unknown Verio
  37. Ceder Waxwing
  38. Downy Woodpecker
  39. Winter Wren
  40. Common Yellowthroat
There were many other experiences not detailed above. Somehow the Gill Netter bar was visited, it being recommended by boaters who moored in the spot we first had at the fort. There was a VHF swap part party. There was a bar maid presentation, actually three free presentations. The Latte deprived Seattle-based crew mistook dehydrated sponges, stored on the vessel, for biscotte, the key to the universe was NOT lost. Custom clearing was the most reasonable of all the ways to enter Canada. And there are the wonderful Canadian charts which show the lowest of low water, rather than the average low water, shown on US charts.

Last modified: 13 August, 2001






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Frank & Lisa Mighetto - 1260 NE 69th St. Seattle, WA 98115 - (206) 525-1458 voice and fax - Internet email address - Internet email address or 72154,3467 from within Compuserve