Winter, Xmas and all that OTG sort of thing….

We went down island to Victoria for Xmas. We left our OTG island on the 22nd. Turns out that was the last reasonably safe day for travel. Or, so they said. Our trip out started early and first required the assistance of a friend who picked us up in his boat on our island and who then dropped us on the other island (the communal dock there is too small for boats to stay there for more than 48 hours so our boats stay home). We had pre-packed the car the day before. It was a bitterly cold morning going out and, of course, the old logging road was covered in snow and the traction was iffy. But, no trees were down and the old Pathfinder really performs well in snow. It is a very well balanced 4×4 SUV and we have really good tires. No problem.

I bought some lumber in Campbell River to do a small repair on Grandma’s house, filled the liquor request and, after gassing up, headed off. There was one more chore a few miles down the road – take the dogs into a DIY dog wash and clean em up. And so, an hour later, we all headed South somewhat damp. It all went well until the very southern part of the island and, in particular, Grandma’s neighbourhood not far from Langford. There the snow was pretty deep. Cars had spun out. Littered in ditches. Roads slippery, icy, treacherous. But, again, we lucked out and made it safe and sound.

I won’t bore you with the whole itinerary but suffice it to say, we are always dependable in the foolish department. We pack whatever time we intend to be there with so much activity it is ridiculous. And the older we get, the more ridiculous we are. We never plan a nap-time for instance. Rarely plan for traffic. We were there for four days (plus two travel days) and, of course, we planned enough events to fill out a week. And we seem to overdo it that way every time!

Anyway, a Xmas of chaos ensued and kids, dogs, babies and grandparents were hugged and kissed, a turkey was devoured, a bunch of presents were exchanged and there was the obligatory dog-on-beach walk (Sal’s family is British, after all) and, of course, we stocked up at Costco for our run home.

The run home back up island is more daunting than the trip down because we have to catch a ferry, cross an island and travel by boat at the end of the day when it is getting dark. And we have a ton of stuff. Catching the ferry and maybe a storm on our home waters and the goal becomes a bit more stressful as the time marches on. Plus we need another pick-up at the dock. However, despite all the warings to “STAY OFF THE ROADS”, we made it and got home just as dusk settled into evening. BUT………………………

…………….and this is the tiny, non-story that makes the point of the blog. When we got home late in the day, the house batteries were dead. That means the funicular won’t work. If the funicular won’t work, everything we are bringing back has to stay in the boat. We, of course, can get into the house and get it warm but the water system won’t work because the pump needs juice, too. Clearly we have to address the electrical requirement first by getting the genset up and going. The genset has to run for about an hour and half to get the batteries up enough that they can operate the funicular. So, in theory, we have an hour or two to kill before we finish the final packing and unpacking to actually make our return home complete. BUT………….

…… turns out we also had a so-called ‘KING’ tide during the time we were away. Our typical ‘really high tide’ might be as much as 17 feet (rarely). Usually 16 feet is the highest. But this ‘KING tide came in at least two feet higher and, worse, there was a storm out of the Southeast at the same time. Storm surge. That made the King at least a 20-footer. I built our lower deck at the 20’ 6″ level. The dock at our neighbour’s (where we tie the boats) is set to adjust right up to 19 feet. The anchors we used (being a bit tight) held the dock under water a smidge and the storm surge swamped over the docks. Our neighbours down the way have a similar height ramp-and-dock and the docks floated two feet higher than the ramp leading to them. And, behind the head of the ramp, is a large half acre area of land used to for storing materials and ATVs and such. It had two feet of water over it. This King tide was higher and wetter than anything previous. This one was a record.

Turns out we have three or four more in store but each successive one is a few inches lower and no storm surge is expected. That minor crisis seems over. Amazingly, there seems to be no damage. The neighbours dock needs some adjustment and there are trees all jammed up in it but we can handle that today. My electrical winch on the lower funicular must have gotten wet but it was still working. The genset put the juice back in the batteries. We’ll get pressure water today. And the house is now warm. Not an unusual homecoming all in all.

The dogs are ecstatic, Sal and I are happy and all is good in our world right now. But…….

……who knows what 2023 will bring…..?

4 thoughts on “Winter, Xmas and all that OTG sort of thing….

  1. Yeah that end of year or early Jan King Tide is a weird one.
    I was working in North Van on a boat over Christmas. ( I took Christmas day “off” to clean and do laundry)
    But the tide was unreal. The boat ramp went UP to the boat from the almost submerged dock.
    I also went to Victoria yesterday to deliver much needed material to a crew and the amount of wood and logs in the water from the King Tide dragging it out was unreal.
    And this is before the sea level rising from Global warming?

    What was the problem with the batts?
    Solar Panels and windmill not online ?


  2. I have 400 ah of lead acid batts. But they are old-ish. About half their life left which might translate to 300 ah. From Dec 22 to Dec 27 is 5 days of electricity drain and, without any sun, my array produced very little if anything at all. We killed every draw before we left save for the two freezers and a heat tape on the water heater all three of which are miserly users but the cold also drains and we were at 45 v when we got home. Maybe 47. Why? Because Sal worked the lower funicular OK but the upper one wouldn’t budge after that.
    I took the wind turbine down last summer. It was a very annoying non-performer but the alternator might be useful in making some kind of tidal/ocean current generator….a project I have not even started. If I had another 400 ah to make 800 ah or, perhaps just a really good extra 400 ah of LiFePo batts, then I might have a week of ‘minimal draw-no charge’ time. Ideally, I would have 800 – 1000 ah of LiFePo batts but the cost is prohibitive. Beyond doable. But batts are all the rage and some new ones are coming down the pike. The ones I like right now are Salt-based. 80% cheaper (they say) and 85% as good as LiFePo. So, in theory, I could afford to get a lot more AH. Wahoo.
    Regardless, I really do need a second generating system even if it is a small amount of ‘naturally occurring’ juice. Say, 400 watts all the live long day would be fab. I have two 400 watt alternators but I have to find a never-ending force and, NO, the stream won’t do. It’s so far away, line loss and sediment would reduce the trickle charge after a helluva lot of effort. That’s why I keep looking at the ocean current sweeping by at 2 knots and thinking…pondering…imagining…


  3. Hate to be the downer but 2 knots is the very, very bottom of turning a very efficient computer designed water genny. You do not have the resources
    To do that. You can buy a lot of big lead acid, think of 4 of my 6-25-13 which are 12 volt 1182 amp@20 hr. New price about 9000.00 which is 8-12 times cheaper than equivalent lifepo. Mine is still very good 10 years on. But consider getting a autostart charge controller to a 7-10 kw diesel generator instead. Locate it over the hill to limit any noise and let it turn it on everyday until your system is happy. Diesel is cheap compared to tec. You really only need this help for the 5-7 months your massive solar array is useless. By the way I got 25+ amps for 3ish hours today with my auto tracking system, 3/4 of what I burn daily.


  4. We will follow closely your exploits in this technology! Price of batteries willcontinue to go down as consumption picks up, unless automobile industry snatches away all the production capacity and prices go up. LiFePo4 is very succeptible tocold and yo should not charge them below 20 degrees C (or so I read)


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