Captain, we are trapped in the ice!

Braesail is certified as Lloyds Class A ocean cruiser, it’s not really an icebreaker.” So what does the crew of Braesail do in the cold, the snow, and the ice? We headed north (but mostly west) to Gibsons.

From Vancouver to Gibsons

After two and a half hours of ogling the snow on the mountains on the mainland, the snow on Vancouver Island and the snow on the islands in between, we pulled into the fuel dock at Gibsons to top up the diesel. With that done we asked for water and…


No problem, we tied up at the dock, and went in to register. All is good. We’ve got a quarter of a tank, or close to it, so we’ll just tank up in Pender Harbour.

Tank gauges on a sailboat. Most of the time when you think about a tank gauge, you think of a continuous sort of sender. For example, if you have 120 gallons in the tank, the sender might show 85 ohms resistance. Then, after you pump a glass of water, and you are all the way down to 119.75 gallons, the sender will show 84.5 ohms. There’s a problem with these sorts of senders: they are fragile. The kind of weather we had on Christmas morning will bend the arms and break the rheostats on the sort of sender you might have in your car’s gas tank. As a result, many senders on boats use magnetic floats and reed switches. The one in our water tanks has eight switches, so it shows more or less every 25 gallons.

When we woke up the next morning, the tank read empty. Sounds like we used a lot of water, but all we did was click over one of those reed switches in the sender. But what was clear was that it was time to fill the tank, no matter what.

Martin and Karen went out to fly his drone. That’s ice behind them, ice beside them, and

Martin and Karen on the dock

Ice beneath them.

Braesail (below) from Martin’s drone

Walt then got on the phone and called all the marinas and fuel docks between Gibsons and Egmont, only to find:

Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink.
(or fill our tanks)

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Water at every marina and every fuel dock we can call is either shutdown in expectation of the freeze (good on them) or frozen (hard luck; fixing that can be expensive). What can we do? No water behind us, No water in front of us. Time for a team meeting.

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