August 27, 2008

The Energy Challenge - Wind Energy Bumps Into Power Grid’s Limits - Series -

The Energy Challenge - Wind Energy Bumps Into Power Grid’s Limits - Series -

"Yet experts say that without a solution to the grid problem, effective use of wind power on a wide scale is likely to remain a dream.

The power grid is balkanized, with about 200,000 miles of power lines divided among 500 owners. Big transmission upgrades often involve multiple companies, many state governments and numerous permits. Every addition to the grid provokes fights with property owners."

Reality will always dampen the dreams and rhetoric of rabid wind advocates. This is not a new problem. Those advocating enormous amounts of renewable electricity from wind should know that the task is not as easy as the politicians and others make it appear. Can it be done? Sure, but not cheaply or quickly.

Here in Vermont we only need to look at the VELCO transmission line upgrade project and the huge costs and extended time for permitting when the NIMBYs and environmental zealots mobilized. The same problem exists here with siting the huge turbine towers that are essential for large scale wind production.

The wind advocates will always bump against the hard reality of towers and transmission line placement.

Al Gore and Gaye Symington, are you paying attention?

August 20, 2008

Cruising the West Coast of Vancouver Island

West Coast, Vancouver Island on the 10&2
August 2- 13, 2008
Ross & Gail Anderson, Vahan Sarkisian and David Usher

Aug 1, Port Hardy
Met Ross and Gail for dinner on August 1 at 1900 at the Quarterdeck Pub

Aug 2, Port Hardy to Bull Harbor
Shopped for provisions in Port Hardy and loaded boat; returned rental car at Quarterdeck and departed 1130 for Bull Harbor. Saw a minke whale surface and blow a few times on the way and a few sea otters, really cute critters that float on their backs with toes and nose in the air. Arrived in Bull Harbor on Hope Island at 1500. Dingy to shore for a walk to a First People’s village. Soon met by a native in broken-down van collecting a $5.00 fee per person to visit island. Vahan paid with $20 bill and the fellow returned with $10; apparently no change smaller than $10! Walked on trail to stony beach and explored tidal zone. Delicious seafood chowder for supper that Gail had made earlier. Yum! Temperatures 50s-60s, clear.

Aug 3, Bull Harbor, Cape Scott, Quatsino Sound & Winter Harbor
Departed Bull Harbor 0600 in good weather for Cape Scott. Rounded the cape at 1015 in 3’ chop with swells. Vahan was seasick and bunk-ridden most of the day. Arrived Winter Harbor at 1515 in sunny weather after run. Went ashore for a walk on the boardwalk which runs for about a mile from the docks along the rocky, wooded coast with various cottages, residences and private docks. Chatted with an old summer resident. Grilled steak with peppers & onions and fried potatoes and ratatouille. Yum! Temperature in 50s-60s, clear.

Aug 4 - Winter Harbor, Quatsino Sound, Coal Harbor & Varney Bay
Departed 0615 for Coal Harbor via Quatsino Narrows (swift current, but Ross timed it for slack tide/current as recommended in cruising books. Otherwise current runs 5-8 knots on tide change) In the bay outside Quatsino Narrows, a school of 30-40 Pacific Whitesided Dolphins were playing with the boat wake, feeding and jumping while slapping tails for 20 minutes. Lots of photos. Just fantastic!
Anchored in Coal Harbor at 1015 and went ashore for a walk along the main street. Chatted with dock tender, a First Nation guy, about the area and he told us his vision for developing income sources for his people now that fishing is poor. He wants to establish an eco-tourism kayaking center on ‘his’ islands. Nice homes on main street overlooking the harbor including a couple of B&Bs.
Went for a one hour ride in float plane in clear weather along the coast and bays to see the area from the air. Plane landed in Varney Bay where Ross had moved the boat for tonight’s anchorage. Ross dinghied out to the float plane to retrieve us. A fun flight! Set out crab pot baited with spiked can of tuna fish and old steak bones overnight. Cocktails and cheese then enjoyed more seafood stew and salad for supper. Temperatures in 50s-60s, clear.

Aug 5 - Varney Bay, Quatsino Sound, Brooks Peninsula & Klaskish Inlet
No crabs in pot! Departed 0930 with the tide for the Pacific. Cooked an omelet for breakfast. No porpoises this time where we saw them previously. Entered Pacific at Quatsino Sound entrance. Usual rollers and 18 knot breeze made the trip not so smooth to our next anchorage just north of nasty Brookes Peninsula. Some fog, not too dense, banked up against the north side of the mountainous peninsula. Will run around that tomorrow with an early start when wind is down.
Anchored in Klashkish Basin up a narrow (60’) inlet at 1545. Three sailboats already tied up to buoys. I cooked a veggie risotto to go with the grilled chicken and a Romaine salad. Hoped we had caught some crawlers for a crab risotto, but none in the pot. We saw them in the shallows of Varney Bay, but none ventured to our pot. Temperature 50s-60s, clear.

Aug 6 - Klaskish Inlet, Brookes Peninsula & Bunsby Island
Off at 0700 for passage around Brookes Peninsula on a clear and calm day with temperature 49 degrees. Really beautiful clear sunny weather, no fog as we rounded Cape Scott on the peninsula tip. CG cutter Tanu passed heading north. At 1130 we spotted a pod of orcas off the rocks in Checleset Bay heading north. Also saw 4 kayakers and a few sea otters.
Anchored in West Nook (and set crab pot) in Bunsby Islands, still clear and calm and 70 degrees. Put kayaks in the water and Vahan and I paddled around the bay for a couple of hours for a close up look at the shoreline. No wildlife, but discovered a campsite marked with flotsam buoys and other items, probably by/for kayakers.
Vahan marinated and grilled lamb and I cooked some ginger sesame green beans. With watermelon for dessert, we were joined by “Capt. Ron and Sue Bauman who live on their boat, Tango, a Majestic 43' made in Finland, in Seattle.
Gail was tired and she and Vahan stayed on board while Ross and I dinghied to Pathfinder, a J-109 from Washington. Pathfinder was owned by an Italian guy with a Swiss wife. Along on their voyage was their son, Tom, who raced J-24s and is a database guru. Ross brought wine and maple syrup and they served us some of their red. Then we all went to Tango for ice cream and cake and a bit more wine, while Ross delivered to the Baumans maple syrup and a bottle of wine.
The Majestic is a beautiful boat and brilliant in all respects, as nice a boat and well-maintained as any I’ve seen. Back to 10&2 at 2300.

Aug 7 - Bunsby Island, Kyuquot Bay & Dixie Cove at Hohoae Island
One tiny crab in the pot, not a keeper. The folks from the other two boats joined us for coffee and flax muffins. Elisabeth, the Swiss lady, gave us a Toblerone chocolate bar.
Off anchor at 1100 headed to Kyuquot Bay and Dixie Cove. Overcast most of the day with temperatures in mid-50s and low 60s. Within minutes after leaving, Tango who had left before us, radioed that they thought they had ‘lost their propeller.’ Closer troubleshooting revealed they had trouble with their cable gear at one steering station (boat has two). We came along side and then followed them for an hour to be sure they were OK. Ron said he would attempt repairs while underway or at next anchorage.
At 1200 saw large group or 30-40 sea otters just before reaching Walters Island in the Mission Group. They sure are cute critters. On this coast their population had been reduce to zero by 1929. In 1969 a few were introduced from Alaska and they seem to have congregated in this bay.
Saw a black bear on the shore near Guillod Point. Later on, we spied a large fire at a log sorting station at Chamiss Bay. It looked like a large pile of bark was burning. We anchored in Dixie Cove at 1525 and set out the crab pot.
Ross grilled salmon that Gail had prepared with a lime-jalopeno sauce and it was excellent along with fried potatoes and a nice salad with the remainder of the watermelon for dessert and some of the Toblerone chocolate. Some reading and to bed early.

Aug 8 Dixie Cove - Kyuquot Channel, Clear Passage, Esperanza Inlet & Zeballos
No crab in pot! Off anchor at 0845 overcast and light wind, down Kyuquot Channel then through Clear Passage heading to Esperanza Inlet. Anchored in Zeballos harbor. Saw a large black bear on shore in vicinity of Graveyard Bay. Vahan, Gail and I went for a walk in Zeballos, an old gold mining town booming in the late 30s and 40s. Visited the local museum and were treated kindly by the young lady in attendance with stories of the old times. Gold and silver ran out in the mid 40s, then iron ore was mined for a while. Now the town has some sport fishing and logging for employment, but is dying with many houses for sale.
Returned for dinner at 1800 at the Blue Heron Motel and Restaurant, about a 20 minute walk from the harbor. Christina cooked and her young teen son served. We all had a wonderful halibut preceded by sauteed oysters for an appetizer. Food very nice. It rained most of the afternoon and evening, probably an inch or so. All the sport fishing boats were gone when we awoke. Temperature in the 50s all day.

Aug 9 - Zeballos, Esperanza Inlet & Friendly Cove on Nootka Island
Off anchor at 0840. Heading down Esperanza Inlet we spotted two dozen sea otters frolicking near Esperanza settlement. Spotted a black bear near Steamer Point Lodge. Encountered Uchuck II, a converted wooden mine sweeper which plys the waters of Nootka Sound between Tahsis, a logging and lumber port, Gold River and Friendly Cove delivering cargo, passengers, kayakers and hikers throughout the area.
Arrived at Friendly Cove and anchored at 1300. Went ashore ($10.00 per person landing fee because this is native land). Visited the old Anglican church where the altar has been pushed aside and which now houses totems and native carvings and serves as a small museum. No sign of current Christianity here. The place is slowly falling into disrepair, e.g., the windows of the church had been replaced recently, but never painted. The native people don’t seem to care for anything very well. Things languish into disrepair.
We visited Sanford Williams, a native master carver who has a “studio” ( a shack is more like it) on the beach and viewed some of his work. He has been carving for many years and is recognized across Canada as a skilled craftsman. He is here only in the summer and lives in Nanaimo in the winter.
The native peoples were gathering here and had pitched tents for a two-week reunion, arriving from many places around Nootka Sound aboard the Uchuck III which was docked, but left at about 1530. About 150 natives had already arrived and more were expected. Their stuff was being unloaded on pallets from the docks in a small Kubota tractor. Rained most of the afternoon, but cleared about 1700.
Friendly Cove is a historic place where Captain Cook in the 1780s first met the natives and later Captain Vancouver negotiated with the Spanish Captain Gorda for the rights to the island. We visited a totem that has been blown over on the island. A manned lighthouse is on the point facing the Pacific and Friendly Cove is right behind this point. We were close enough to the Pacific to feel the swells while sleeping.

Aug 10 - Friendly Cove to Hot Springs Cove
A beautiful morning. Off anchor at 0730 for Hot Springs Cove via the open Pacific. Passed two huge barges of logs towed by tugs heading to see, then southerly. Sighted a humpback whale in the distance shortly after leaving Friendly Cove. Passage was smooth with normal Pacific swells and light fog as we rounded Hesquiat Peninsula and Estavan Point, one of the three potentially tough passages on this side of the island. (The other two are Cape Scott and Brooks Peninsula.) Docked at Hot Springs Cove and Gail, Vahan and I walked the 1.5 miles on a boardwalk to the hot springs for a swim. The walk is wonderful through the cool forest with some enormous old cedars, some with trunks of 15’ in diameter. The geothermal sulfur smelling water comes out of the ground at 122 degrees F at 100 gallons per minute and cascades through a series of pools to the ocean below. The water in the first cascade is too hot for most people. About 30 people were at the site, most arriving from Tofino by boat or float plane. Nude bathing is prohibited, but there’s no enforcement so a few young girls bared it.
This was the first ‘shower’ of the trip and the warm water felt good although no soap is allowed. Steak and a red pepper-anise risotto for supper. Ross walked alone after supper to the springs and was skinny dipping as there were only one or two others there.
A very peaceful night at the dock with hundreds of ‘moon’ jellyfish (about 6”-10” in diameter) congregated at the dock. Never saw anything like it before. We had seen these jellyfish at other docks on this trip, but only a few, never the hundreds congregated between the floating dock and the shore.

Aug 11 - Hot Springs Cove, Flores Island, Hayden Passage, Ross Passage & West White Pine Cove
Off the dock at 0840 and around Flores Island by Obstruction Island and through Millar and Ross Channels to West White Pine Bay, a tiny secure anchorage that convinces you you’re in the wilderness. Passed two large fish farms just outside our anchorage.
Anchored at 1145. Ross and Gail set the crab pot and spent the day lolling, reading, etc. after a lunch of sausages, refried beans and sauerkraut, Gail and Ross had a swim and Vahan and I kayaked around the cove after short naps. Grilled a pork roast for supper. The guide books suggest that bears can be seen along the shores, but we didn’t see any. Very little wildlife here, a few ducks, a kingfisher and not much more. Tomorrow we will be in Tofino and leave the boat a day early (Ross always builds in at least one day for nasty weather, and we didn’t have any that required a layover). Except for the rain in Zeballos and Friendly Cove, the weather has been very nice with temperatures in the 50s and 60s. Will treat the Andersons to a Captain’s Dinner.

Aug 12 - West White Pine Cove to Tofino
This was our last anchorage before Tofino. We headed for Tofino and arrived in the early afternoon without incident. Tofino is a busy harbor because it is a base for whale watching, boat and float plane trips to Warm Springs Cove and a general artsy tourist town. It has been raining most of the afternoon, not pelting, but a steady soft rain which I perceived as typical of this area. Vahan and I walked the town and found a restaurant for Captain’s Dinner. There are several snack bars and coffee shops, but only two good restaurants.
We selected The Shelter restaurant and were overjoyed at the quality of the meal. The salmon was undoubtedly the best I’ve ever had, preceded by one of the nicest seafood chowders on Vancouver Island, I’ll wager.
It had stopped raining when we dinghied in from anchor in Tofino harbor so the trip in and out was dry.

Aug 13 - Tofino
After packing and our goodbyes, Ross dinghied us in after we had called the rental car company for a free pickup. He was on time and he took us to the Tofino Airport (that’s a whole other story) to pick up the car. After a breakfast in the golf club restaurant, off we headed over the mountain to PortAlberni (an overnight) and then south to Victoria and one more overnight in Sidney near the Victoria Airport for our flight to Seattle and home on August 16.

We had a wonderful relaxing trip with the Andersons and very much appreciated the opportunity to cruise with them in this beautiful place.