Underway Labor Day

Jupiter returned to British Columbia during a rare alignment of U.S. and Canadian long holiday weekends, separated only by their sanctioned orthographies – Labor / Labour Day. A visit was planned to Brentwood Bay on the west side of the Saanich Peninsula where warmer than average weather often holds sway.

Cautionary signs line the approach to our marina where we are moored alongside BC Ferry “Klitsa”.

We tied up at Brentwood Bay Marina among a fleet of Crescent Beach Yacht Club cruisers and other fine-weather folks on floats. The protected harbors and nearby bays were filled with land-forsakers and holiday-makers in all manner of craft.

Here we were a short dinghy ride from the remarkable Butchart Gardens which occupy an old limestone quarry repurposed more than a century ago into a heady fireworks of flora.

Stunning displays at Butchart Gardens

We enjoyed the excellent opportunity to observe and ponder the biota, as well as the moorage and mooring culture of the Pacific Northwest. Stern tying is prevalent in the well trafficked inlets that skirt the garden.

A Catenary Tale – The Stern Tie

In order to stern tie a boat in an anchorage you first must seek a location that is too small, too crowded, or too deep to otherwise anchor. Stern ties are best executed by three persons, although if you are organized, agile and extremely lucky the procedure can be accomplished solo, we are told.

The process begins by launching your tender and securing it alongside the mothership while estimating how much of your attached reel of one cable length (600 feet) of heavy floating polypropylene line you will need to run to shore and back. Divide and organize this carefully into two equal lengths flaked into the tender.

Jupiter’s stern-tie line and reel. Oft admired, never used.

Now drop anchor some boat lengths forward of where your bow will end up using reason and accountability, then back down towards shore to set the anchor if possible.

Send two impeccably trained crew into the tender and point them towards the tree, rock, or possibly a pre-installed eyebolt onshore that you have selected. Crew will play out the first division of the line. One of the tender’s crew will attempt a landing while the other, leaps, wades or climbs ashore with the second division of line in hand, reaves this around the secure point and re-boards the tender. Treat wounds.

Various conditions may indicate an unsuitable stern-tie location.

During the beach assault the ship’s helmsman will attempt to keep the stern of the mothership perfectly aimed at shore until the expeditionary force returns with the bitter end of the stern-tie line in hand. Cleat off aboard.

Adjust the stern line and anchor rode so that the ship lies perfectly at peace and perpendicular to the shore. This all works easily if no cross-wind, current, or neighboring vessel interferes with your plan.

Unmooring from this installation is as simple as releasing the bitter end and pulling the entire length of line back through or around your shore structure, unless the line becomes fouled on beach, prop or rudder, at which time you repeat the entire process in reverse with a sharp blade at the ready.

Having accomplished a stern-tie many cruisers raft-up with friends.

Jupiter carries a fine looking stern-tie apparatus that her crew hopes never to deploy on a boat that yearns to swing free!

Our return to sea after an August hiatus inspired a friend to pen this poem:

Must you go down to the seas again, to the lonely Sitka sky?

Surely you’ll ask for more than a motor vessel and radar to steer her by.

When the oil seeps and the backflow valve leaks and the micro-greens are shaking,

You’ll be missed and we’ll think of you, when for safe haven we hope you are making.

Must you go down to the seas again, to the vagrant slack-tide life,

Braving that tricky Vancouver Maneuver, with dire straits so rife?

But it’s a wild call and a clear call and you’re on Jupiter’s Way!

So safe journey dear friends and we know it depends on Refrigerant 134a.

Louise Gazzoli


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