Ben taking us out Vancouver Harbour under the Lions Gate Bridge
Well, it's been a bit of time since I last updated the blog... since June, in fact. But we have been sailing, and I'm sitting out a snowstorm in Whistler, and Estelle is tucked in for winter at the Vancouver Rowing Club, so no time like the present!
We arrived back in BC on September 14th, planning to spend the fall cruising.
We arrived back in Victoria and checked out Estelle in the yard of Van Isle Marina where she spent the summer. All well aboard and we arranged for launching.
We arrived back at the boatyard to see Estelle crossing the street to the launch way and were back afloat and underway to our slip by noon.
Estelle being launched
A couple of nights in the marina saw us re-stocked and re-organized. The logistics of returning both the car and boat back to Vancouver took some thought, but finally sorted itself out and on September 23rd we were off.
Plans were originally to do some extended cruising, but plans don't always work out... life interferes, and plans were altered. So our first objective for the fall was to head for our new slip at the Vancouver Rowing Club.
Estelle's new home
We had been on a waiting list for the past year, and with a marina expansion, a number of vacancies occurred and we were in! So from Van Isle Marina we headed up the Gulf Islands and through Gabriola Pass to anchor in Silva Bay.
In the off season, the small anchorage was still full of boats on permanent moorings, but we found a small corner to drop our anchor and headed ashore for some exploring. It turns out there is not too much to explore ashore in Silva Bay, and in off season, the only restaurant was closed. Back aboard we were just settling in for the evening when a seaplane swooped by us, landing just off our bow. Turns out the reason the area was free of boats is that it is the seaplane landing zone. But it was sunset, so we just turned on the anchor light, assuming correctly it turns out, that the planes, don't run at night.
Next morning was a beautiful sail across the Strait of Georgia to the Lions Gate Bridge where we furled the sails (no sailing allowed in the harbour) and motored into our new slip. Next morning was our safety inspection required to keep Estelle in the marina. That completed with no issues, we headed back to Whistler where we had some commitments.
Back aboard, we left Vancouver and headed back to the Gulf Islands, and with a new crew member!!! Our ten year old Grandson Ben decided to come cruising with us. Although the weather was beautiful, the light airs meant that Ben didn't see any sailing on the crossing. To get into the Gulf Islands requires running through one of a number of passes, all requiring timing the currents. We were a bit early for slack and were swept through in a two knot current.
Through the Pass we motored down Pilades Channel to Pirates Cove, only two miles from the pass. It is a great anchorage, with excellent protection and, in the off season, uncrowded. Safely Anchored, with Ben anxious to learn how everything is done, project number one was launch the dinghy. With the outboard on, Ben was more than anxious to try it out.
After a good run in the dinghy we were hiking the paths on the island, then back aboard for dinner.
Fishing in Montague Harbour
This morning we headed out down the Trincomali Channel towards the southern part of the Gulf Islands. With a fresh wind on the nose, we hoisted our reefed main and jib for an exhilarating sail. But by mid afternoon we were drifting with the fishing line out, without success. Our destination for the night was Montague Harbour, and by mid-afternoon we were picking up a buoy at the provincial park mooring field. Ashore we found a group fishing on the dock for small baitfish, using just sticks for rods, a short piece of line and marine worms found attached to the dock as bait. Soon equipped, Ben and I soon began hauling in our share (all returned for another day's fishing). Another hike, a quick trip to the marina for ice cream (closed yesterday) with Ben at the helm of the dinghy and time for dinner!
We were up early and off to nearby Ganges Harbour on Saltspring Island, where we were meeting our daughter Sarah and her two boys, Henry (3) and Johann (2) for the night aboard.
One of the great benefits of the VRC (Vancouver Rowing Club) are their "outstations". In this case it is a large section of dock space at the Ganges Marina, reserved exclusively for club members, no fees. So we tied up and prepared for the chaos to come. Sarah and the boys had taken the ferry from Vancouver Island and met us at the excellent farmers market. In the evening we ate at a local restaurant and settled in for the night in cozy quarters!!
Today our crew departed, leaving a very quiet boat. But before everyone departed we went touring and found the most incredible miniature train setup. Running indoors and out thorough the woods, the boys were mesmerized. And after some instruction, each one was permitted to operate the trains.
Henry at the controls
Ben at the controls
Great fun, and before leaving we were allowed to feed the goats and chickens running around.
In the afternoon we said a sad goodby to Sarah and the boys, but only for a week when we would be together again for Thanksgiving in Whistler.
Casting off from the Ganges Marina, we began our trip back to Vancouver. Sailing north towards Gabriola Pass, we headed for Telegraph Cove on Thetis Island. Up Trincomali Channel, through Houston Passage rounding the southern tip of Keuper Island into Stuart Channel, we ghosted into tiny Telegraph Cove on the dying breeze. With no room to anchor, we tied up at the Telegraph Harbour Marina.
Telegraph Harbour model boat
In the morning we took another walk, looking for a vineyard that we later learned no longer existed. But we did discover a small custom coffee roasting shop where we bought some interesting, and later confirmed, excellent beans.
Back aboard, we sailed a short 10 miles to Pirates Cove where we spent the night. We seem to have been here in Pirates Cove more than any other anchorage in the Gulf Islands. And although it is a nice anchorage, the real reason is that it is so convenient for staging for passing through nearby Gabriola Passage, as we did the next morning, with another beautiful sail across the Strait of Georgia and back to our berth at the VRC.