Boat Maintenance Ocean Falls

Sum It Up Sunday: Fuel Filters and Ocean Falls

Sunday, June 29, 2014S.V. CAMBRIA

After six nights in Pruth Bay waiting for the weather to clear, we finally upped anchor Monday morning and made our way back out to Fitz Hugh Sound.  Even though we still haven’t decided what we want to do this season, there was no doubt where we were going that day – Ocean Falls at the head of Cousins Inlet.

Two years ago we met Rob and Corrina Darke, the new owners of Darke Waters Inn & Adventure Lodge, and became fast friends.  Between visits to the dock and the wonders of Facebook, we’ve been able to keep in touch and have been looking forward to seeing them again for months now. Besides, not only are they great people, they have dogs!

With 50 nautical miles to travel, most of it against the current, it was a long day.  And it only got longer when the engine started to hunt around, fluctuating 150 rpm from where it was set.  David throttled back, slowing our speed even more, but it seemed to help and we carried on.  You’re always concerned when there’s something going on with the engine, but the symptoms were consistent with a dirty fuel filter – something David had planned to do before we left Kingston but ran out of time because of the propane locker.  In fact, he already had the filter pulled out of storage and sitting in the engine room waiting until the next time we tied up to be changed even though it hadn’t been that long since he last did the job. 

Ocean Falls, BC.
We arrived at the dock eight and a half hours later and I realized as I was getting off the boat to tend lines that it was the first time I’d disembarked in nine days.  David doesn’t have a problem with that and can literally spend weeks without stepping ashore, but not me. I like to move around and explore but, without Sally by my side, I hadn’t had the motivation . . . or the heart.  It was time to change all that and fast because headed down the gangway was the best welcoming committee we could have asked for – Rob, Corrina and Greg, their friend and guest at the lodge.

That was six days ago and we’re still tied to the dock.  But not by choice.  It’s been really nice catching up with Rob and Corrina and getting to know Greg. And it’s been great spending time with their dogs – Jax, a four-month old white lab, and Keno, a morkie.  But we hadn’t planned to stay so long – the fuel filter, come to find out, had other ideas.

Rob and David with Jax and Tuna.
David went to change it out on Tuesday only to discover that the two remaining spares we have aboard are the wrong size.  I’m not sure what’s dumber – the fact that the wrong filters were on the boat in the first place (we’re still using spares from the original owner), or that we didn’t notice the mistake when we entered them into inventory ten years ago.  Either way, we managed to avoid the wrong ones until now.  If you’re asking yourself, “what are the odds?” I’m guessing you don’t have a boat: It’d be way too easy to discover the problem when we were within walking distance of a solution.  And owning a boat is rarely easy.

We like to cruise in remote areas, and Ocean Falls can only be reached by boat or by float plane. With Cambria out of commission, we had to look toward outside help.  Fortunately, they provide internet at the docks and Rob and Corrina gave us access to a landline.

The dam and falls that helped give the township its name.
Rob found the filter we needed through his source in Port Hardy but they’d need to be flown in. There are a few problems with that: (1) unless it’s a scheduled flight, you’re looking at BIG bucks; (2) the next flight wasn’t due until Monday; (3) the weather in Port Hardy has been bad since Wednesday so, even if we wanted to splash out the extra cash for an unscheduled delivery, nobody was going anywhere.  It was time to look elsewhere.

The most logical place would be Shearwater, a fishing resort about 20 nm from Ocean Falls.  They have a boat yard and marine shop on site but, even then, the chances that they carried the particular filter we needed when there are hundreds of different sizes out there were slim.  But our luck was changing and they actually had two on their shelf.  Now we had to get them here.  We fumbled around with ideas for a bit – maybe there was a boat coming to Ocean Falls from Shearwater or one of the local residents would be making a return trip – before considering the obvious: The ferry!  As it turned out, the Nimpkish would be leaving Shearwater Friday and, after a few phone calls, David was able to make arrangements for our filters to be aboard.

Now that the job’s done, we’re good to go.  The weather, on the other hand, is still wet and dreary so we’ll likely give it one more day to clear out giving us a better view for a trip up Dean Channel where we’ll spend a few days soaking in the natural hot springs in Eucott Bay and Nascall Bay.  What comes next, we have no idea . . . and that’s fine by us.

David enjoying a soak in Eucott Bay in 2012.

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