Summer 2008

This year our big vacation was a road trip to California, so Alastor didn't get much use. However, I took her to Vancouver Island to vist my daughter at UVic. I figured out how to get my 200cc motorcycle aboard, which turned out to be really useful. So it was more of a bike road trip than a sailing vacation.

Initially I loaded the bike into our van and drove to the marina with provisions etc. Then moved everything to the boat and set off. First stop was Garden Bay just south of Active Pass. Next day I tied up at the government dock on Saturna Island and took the bike ashore. Riding up the gangway was easy. I found a public park at the high point of the island, with a wonderful view across to Pender Island. I also found a winery tucked away on the south side of the island, where I bought a couple of bottles of wine.

Next stop was East Saanich on Vancouver Island, though I later moved to Tsehum Harbour a bit further north near Sidney. Usually I take Alastor to Victoria Harbour, which takes an extra day, but on the bike I just took the Pat Bay highway for about 40 minutes to get to UVic (which is a little ways north of Victoria Harbour, so had I not had the motorcycle I might have rented a scooter). Apart from visting my daughter, I explored the island a bit and found the Herzberg Institute observatory just in time for a free tour (at one time the world's largest telescope). I also found some nice twisty roads in the Highlands (North American roads tend to be boring and straight). I didn't really need to be alongside full-time, so to avoid moorage fees I anchored out in the harbour after dropping the bike off and rowed back in the dinghy.

On the return trip home I stopped off at Pender Island and took the bike ashore again. It was interesting to see many of the places that I'd previously only seen from the water.

Getting the bike aboard (YouTube)
This turned out to be surprisingly easy. The starboard side lifelines have a quick-release catch so it was quite simple to move them out of the way. I had a piece of C-section steel beam about 6ft long, which I laid over the rail and secured with a line aboard. After lining the bike up carefully with the ramp, I started it up and powered it aboard in first gear while walking alongside. When it was aboard I secured it to the portside shrouds. In heavy weather this location picks up a fair bit of salt water, but in the sheltered waters of Georgia Strait this is not usually an issue. I covered it with a tarpaulin just in case, but it stayed quite dry.
Getting the bike off the boat was basically the reverse - I backed it down the ramp in gear but not running, using the clutch to brake the rear wheel. I had adjusted the dock lines to bring the starboard quarter close to the dock - I really didn't want to fall in, or worse, drop the bike in the water. Initially I secured the bike to a spinnaker halyard as a precaution, but it wasn't really necessary. The whole operation is easier than it sounds.

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