The Voyage of S/V Estelle

Cruising the British Columbia Coast

04 November 2012 | Shelter Bay Marina, Colon, Panama
01 November 2012 | Shelter Bay Marina, Colon, Panama
29 October 2012 | Shelter Bay Marina, Colon, Panama
24 October 2012 | Shelter Bay Marina, Colon, Panama
01 October 2012 | Charlottetown PEI
15 March 2012 | Shelter Bay Marina, Colon, Panama
06 March 2012 | Maccu Pichu, Peru
01 March 2012 | Puno to Cusco via the Andean Explortr
27 February 2012 | Colca Valley, Peru
26 February 2012 | Arequipa, Peru
23 February 2012 | Shelter Bay Marina, Colon, Panama
18 February 2012 | Portobello, Panama
13 February 2012 | Salardup, Kuna Yale, Panama
06 February 2012 | West Lemons, Kuna Yale, Panama
03 February 2012 | West Lemons, Kuna Yale, Panama
31 January 2012 | Ali Tupu
28 January 2012 | Ali Tupu
26 January 2012 | Nomulu
21 January 2012 | San Bls, Panama
08 December 2011 | Green Turtle Marina, Panama

Fall Cruising in BC Part 1

19 November 2017 | Vancouver, BC
Nice Fall weather
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.

19 September
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.

21 September
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.
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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.
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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.

28 September
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.
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After a good run in the dinghy we were hiking the paths on the island, then back aboard for dinner.

29 September
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Breakfast!
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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!

30 September
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"The Boys"

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!!

1 October
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.
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Henry at the controls

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Ben at the controls

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Playing Trains


Great fun, and before leaving we were allowed to feed the goats and chickens running around.
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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.

2 October
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.
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Telegraph Harbour model boat

3 October
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.




San Juan Islands Part 2

04 August 2017 | Van Isle Marina
Sunny, warm, 16C
June 3
Fisherman's Bay, Lopez Island
Like the Gulf Islands, anchorages in the San Juan Islands are everywhere, so that sailing distances are short. Today's plan was to sail to Fisherman's Bay on nearby Lopez Island, a distance of just 6 miles. So after breakfast we took the dinghy ashore on Shaw for a walk and look around.
Blind Bay, our anchorage, is on the north side of Shaw Island. And at the bay's mouth is the ferry landing and a small marina where we tied u the dinghy for a walk ashore. Shaw Island, in the midst of the San Juan group, is the least developed. According to the girls running the vegetable stand at the landing, the winter population is about 50, and in summer swells to 200, very low by comparison to the adjacent islands. And our walk down the only road leading away from the dock confirmed the solitude.
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Shaw Island highway

In a walk of about an hour, we met one truck, with a friendly wave. In fact, the two deer we met were the only signs of life past the landing.
The landing seems to be the commercial hub of Shaw Island. It contains the ferry landing, a very interesting general store, a temporary veggie stand, and very clean public washrooms. And that seems to sum up Shaw Island. Very nice for a quiet visit.
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Shaw Island General Store

Back aboard, we prepared to get underway. We will return to this very special spot.
Having exhausted Shaw Island's attractions, we headed out for Fisherman's Bay on Lopez Island, just 6 miles away. We timed our departure to arrive at the entrance to Fisherman's Bay at high tide as the guide warned that the poorly marked outer channel was shallow. And it was right on both accounts... poorly marked and shallow. But we made it in where, again, we found lots of room to anchor.
Taking the dinghy ashore, we landed at one of the two marinas on shore. Ashore, we were met by a couple of local boaters. After chatting with them, one introduced himself as Mike and asked our plans. When we told him we were planning to walk into the nearby town of Lopez for some groceries, he said it was too far, and offered us his car. He told us where to find it, saying the keys were in it, and just return it in the same area when we were done. So we had a nice tour of the area and took full opportunity to replenish our supplies. The night was forecast to be windy, but in the excellent protection, we had a pleasant night.
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Jim in "Mike's" car

June 4, Sucia Island
In the morning, waiting for high tide to exit, we were ashore again and rented bikes for a tour of the area. We had the morning to bike the area, finding a nice trail in a saltmarsh, and some nice quiet roads.
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Saltmarsh hike

In the early afternoon, just as the tide was reaching high, we inched our way out the harbor, again with the depth sounder chirping warnings about shallow water. Outside the harbor, we hoisted sails and headed for our next destination, Sucia Island.
Heading northeast, we ran back through Upright Channel, through Obstruction Pass and out into Rosario Strait (the British proposal for the boundary). We had an excellent romp up the strait, rounding Laurence Point where the wind slowly died. Drifting into Echo Bay, we picked up a mooring just off Sucia Island. The island is a state park with a number of moorings. Again, early in the season, we had lots of choice. We just settled in for the night.
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Sucia Island Anchorage

June 5
Stuart Island
In the morning, we launched the dinghy and went ashore on Sucia Island for a hike. Being a state park, the island has both camping sites and lots of trails. We found a payment box and deposited our $20 for the mooring and explored the island. The island has three main anchorages and our stumbling the trails (no maps) took us down to all of them before we found our way back to the dinghy after a 2.5 hour hike.
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Fossil Bay Anchorage

Sucia Island is much more rugged that we expected, so we were glad to be back at our starting point.
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Hiking on Sucia Island
In late morning, we were off. In a flat calm morning, it was an opportunity to charge the batteries. Just outside the anchorage, we were met by a US Coast Guard patrol who asked us all about our documents. But after a few minutes, we were underway again. In this area, with the border just a mile away, there are hundreds of boats drifting from the US to Canada and back. In fact, our route to Stuart Island, our destination, was 13 miles. But the closest anchorage we could have selected was just 6 miles away, on (Canadian) Saturna Island.
Chugging down Boundary Pass, we entered Prevost Harbor on Stuart Island in late afternoon. While much of Stuart is private, there is, again, a state park with moorings and a dock. So we picked up a mooring and settled in. We took a short walk ashore. Although most of the island is private, there is a public road. So we planned a hike for the morning.

June 6
Van Isle Marina
The last day of our cruise. But with only 8 miles to Van Isle Marina, we went ashore in the morning for a walk. Hiking the park trails to the public road, we took off exploring. Stuart Island has a very steep hill in its center, and for some perverse reason, the road heads straight up it! So after a 45 minute uphill hike, we were grateful to find not only a bench to sit down, but cold water for the taking. Run by the island community (probably less than 40), the former school has been converted into a museum, and with a few mementos on offer.
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Stuart Island Museum

I was interested to find the original settlers graveyard, but after wandering around in the woods for a while, we tired of giving blood to the mosquitoes and retreated.
Back aboard, we headed off for our final destination, Van Isle Marina. And a short two hours later, I called Canpass to clear customs. With our Nexus cards, one phone call and we were cleared.
Tied up, we began the process of preparing Estelle for haulout and a 3 month hiatus on shore.
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Estelle awaits haulout at Van Isle Marina


So Estelle is now in the yard at Van Isle, awaiting our return in the fall. Plans are to return in early September and cruise until the weather tells us to stop. Then head for our new berth at the Vancouver Rowing Club for the winter.

San Juan Islands 2017 Part 1

25 July 2017 | San Juan Islands, Wa USA
Beautiful spring weather

Grand Piano and Pipe Organ at Rosario Resort


May 30
Roche Harbor

Our trip today from Royal Cove to Roche Harbor on San Juan Island was just 11 nm, so we had time for a good hike ashore.
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Are you sure I'll like this?

In a "soft" morning we donned wet gear and hiked the perimeter of the island down to Princess Cove and back. A good hike!
Dropping our stern line was a bit easier that rigging it, and we were off for the US! A short trip and we were tying to the US Customs dock in Roche Harbor on San Juan Island. We were quickly cleared in and moved along the dock to tie up for a few hours to tour ashore.
Roche Harbor is not really a town, but a resort centered on the Hotel De Haro.

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The hotel dates back to the early 20th century, and with only a few concessions to modern comfort is today as it was built. We looked through the Presidential Suite and thought it comfortable in summer, but might be a bit drafty in winter.
We found a well equipped grocery store where we replenished our supply of fresh fruit and veggies and wine. After a quick tour, we were back aboard and moved off the dock to anchor in the harbour, sharing the large anchorage with just a half dozen other boats.

May 31
Garrison Bay

In the morning we again went ashore in Roche Harbor where we found an excellent breakfast at a restaurant on the wharf. After breakfast, we took another walk, including a tour of a very curious statue garden.
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Back aboard, we weighed anchor and an ran down Mosquito Pass and into Garrison Bay. Garrison Bay was home to the British Garrison during The Pig War. If you are not interested in this curious piece of history, skip down to June 1st.
The Oregon Treaty of June 15, 1846, resolved the Oregon boundary dispute by dividing the Oregon Country/Columbia District between the United States and Britain "along the forty-ninth parallel of north latitude to the middle of the channel which separates the continent from Vancouver Island, and thence southerly through the middle of the said channel, and of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, to the Pacific Ocean". However, there are actually two straits that could be called the middle of the channel: Haro Strait, along the west side of the San Juan Islands; and Rosario Strait, along the east side.
Because of this ambiguity, both the United States and Britain claimed sovereignty over the San Juan Islands.
During this period of disputed sovereignty, Britain's Hudson's Bay Company established operations on San Juan and turned the island into a sheep ranch. Meanwhile, American settlers had begun to arrive.
On June 15, 1859, exactly thirteen years after the adoption of the Oregon Treaty, the ambiguity led to direct conflict. Lyman Cutlar, an American farmer, found a large black pig rooting in his garden eating his potatoes. This was not the first occurrence. Cutlar was so upset that he took aim and shot the pig, killing it. It turned out that the pig was owned by an Irishman, Charles Griffin, who was employed by the Hudson's Bay Company to run the sheep ranch. When British authorities threatened to arrest Cutlar, American settlers called for military protection.
With that, things began to escalate. The US dispatched 66 American soldiers to San Juan Island with orders to prevent the British from landing
Meanwhile, the governor of the Colony of Vancouver Island ordered British Rear Admiral Robert L. Baynes to land marines on San Juan Island and engage the American soldiers. Baynes landed his troops, but refused to engage the Americans, deciding that "two great nations in a war over a squabble about a pig" was foolish. Local commanding officers on both sides had been given essentially the same orders: defend yourselves, but absolutely do not fire the first shot. For several days, the British and U.S. soldiers exchanged insults, each side attempting to goad the other into firing the first shot, but discipline held on both sides, and thus no shots were fired.
When news about the crisis reached Washington and London, officials from both nations were shocked and took action to calm the potentially explosive international incident.
As a result of negotiations, both sides agreed to retain joint military occupation of the island until a final settlement could be reached, reducing their presence to a token force of no more than 100 men. The "English Camp" was established on the north end of San Juan Island. The American Camp was established on the southern end of the island.
During the years of joint military occupation, the small British and American units on San Juan Island had an amicable mutual social life, visiting one another's camps to celebrate their respective national holidays and holding various athletic competitions. Park rangers told us the biggest threat to peace on the island during these years was "the large amounts of alcohol available".
In 1871, both sides agreed to resolve the San Juan dispute by international arbitration, with Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany chosen to act as arbitrator. Wilhelm referred the issue to a three-man arbitration commission which met in Geneva for nearly a year. On October 21, 1872, the commission decided in favor of the United States. The arbitrator chose the American-preferred marine boundary via Haro Strait, to the west of the islands, over the British preference for Rosario Strait which lay to their east.
On November 25, 1872, the British withdrew their Royal Marines from the British Camp. The Americans followed by July 1874. The Pig War was over after 13 years. The only casualty was the pig.
After anchoring in Garrison Bay and a quick lunch, we dinghied ashore for a fascinating afternoon touring the site. While the entire camp has not survived, there are still a number of buildings and structures standing, including a formal garden demanded by the commanding officer's wife.
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Photographs on display certainly suggest that the British troops enjoyed a very comfortable posting.
We also climbed up the hill behind the camp to the graveyard containing the graves of the four British soldiers who died during the occupation, neatly tended. All died by either accident or of natural causes.

June 1
Friday Harbor/Blind Bay

We woke after another quiet night in Garrison Bay. We are clearly ahead of the season as there were only two other cruising boats here with us. The cruising guides suggest that these anchorages become extremely crowded in the height of the cruising season. But today, finding room to anchor was not a problem.
Weighing anchor, we worked our way back into Roche Harbour then rounded the northern tip of San Juan, and down San Juan Channel to Friday Harbor, San Juan's largest community.
One nice feature that the yacht clubs in the north-west is "reciprocal privileges". It provides, among other features, complimentary dockage in a designated area. Its on a "first come, first served" basis. So we checked out the Friday Harbor Yacht Club visitor's dock, only to find it fully occupied. So we anchored in the harbor and took the dinghy ashore.
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First business, lunch at a very nice cafe on the water where we watched the coming and going in the harbor. Then a nice tour around town, including a stop at the ATM for some US cash. Then, as usual, groceries, or as many as we could carry.
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Although only mid-afternoon, we headed back to the boat.
Friday Harbor is deep, with no anchorage less than 60', so we had over 200' of chain out. But that was still barely adequate if any wind came up. So we decided to seek out a better anchorage for the night. We will return to Friday Harbor as our quick trip only allowed us to see a small part of it.
Leaving Friday Harbor, we crossed San Juan Channel and sailed up Upright Channel, passing one of the many ferries plying the waters of the San Juan's in the narrows. Sailing into Blind Bay on Shaw Island where we found an excellent anchorage with, again, only three other cruisers like ourselves.

June 2
East Sound/Blind Bay

Today we decided to explore East Sound on Orca Island. And with few protected anchorages, we planned it a day trip, returning to Blind Bay for the night.
Sailing up the sound in light airs, we reached the village of Eastsound just at noon... just in time for lunch! Again anchoring was not possible as it was prohibited in the only water under 100' So we picked up a vacant mooring and headed ashore. Another pretty village that, at the beginning of tourist season was quickly becoming busy. After an excellent lunch, a few more groceries, a bottle of local wine (Washington State has some great wines!), and we were off back down the Sound.
The only other anchorage on its 8 mile length was Rosario Resort and Marina.
Rosario Resort features the main "House", hotel rooms, a marina, spa and a few moorings (again, too deep to anchor).
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Rosario Resort
We picked up a mooring and went ashore for a tour of this fascinating property.
The main body of the resort, complete with pipe organ, was built in 1913 by Seattle shipbuilder Robert Moran. Originally from New York City, Moran arrived on the Seattle waterfront in 1875 with a dime in his pocket. Eventually joined in Seattle by his brothers, Moran formed The Moran Bros. Company, a small family ship repair business that grew into a supplier for the Yukon Gold Rush, then a major West Coast shipyard. The Moran Bros. Company quickly became Seattle's largest employer when it won a naval contract to build the battleship U.S.S. Nebraska in 1902.
By 1904, the stress of business had taken a toll on Moran's health and he was given only a few years to live. He purchased 7,000 acres on Orcas Island. He began to build his retirement home with the same integrity as one of his ocean going vessels: massive and solid, yet elegant and gracious. Free from the pressures of his business, Moran recovered and lived until 1943!
In 1938, Moran sold Rosario to Donald Rheem for $50,000. Rheem was the founder of Rheem Manufacturing in the San Francisco Bay area, known today for their water heaters and heat pumps. Rosario was Rheem's vacation home for 20 years, but his wife Alice ended up making it her permanent residence .
Texan Ralph Curtain purchased Rosario from Rheem in 1958, but his dream of turning the estate into a resort quickly ended when his oil wells dried up. He sold Rosario in 1960 for $225,000 (half the original purchase price) to Gil Geiser of Seattle. Geiser sold a bowling alley and hardware store to open Rosario Resort on April 1, 1960.
Today, the Aeolian pipe organ (1,972 pipes), and 1900 Steinway grand piano are still used for concerts throughout the season.
In late afternoon, we dropped the mooring and motored back to Blind Bay where we re-anchored for another quiet night.

Gulf Islands Spring Cruise Part 2

22 July 2017 | BC Gulf Islands
Warm spring weather
Montague Harbour

May 23
Ganges Harbour, Saltspring Island


In more warm sunshine and light airs, we left Victoria. With a forecast of one more nice day, followed by some gale force winds, we contemplated our options. But for today, our options were where to spend another beautiful night before the winds picked up. Working our way back up into the Gulf Islands, we contemplated our options. Passing Sidney Spit, we lost count of the boats at anchor.
The next option was Portland Island. Portland Island has two small anchorages. Both Princess Bay, on the southern tip, and Royal Cove on the north tip are small anchorages, and on Victoria Day weekend, the first "summer weekend", both were full beyond our liking in mid-afternoon. Carrying on, we settled on Ganges Harbour on Saltspring Island.
We followed Swift Current into the harbour and anchored outside the crowded anchorage. Dinghying ashore, we enjoyed a walk, did some essential grocery and wine shopping, and enjoyed a final evening with Swift Current.

May 24
Montague Harbour

The best part about Montague Harbour is its protection. With two small entrances, and surrounded by 125' cliffs, it is an excellent spot to wait out a blow. And that's what we did. And a bonus is the provincial park on its shore. With moorings at $20/ night, an excellent dock for landing and great hiking trails, a great place to waste a day. And so we did. We hiked, wandered, walked through the paths of this well-kept park. We took a short dinghy expedition to the marina where we looked through the store, bought a few groceries, and another walk. And with that, the day was over. In the evening, our Dickeson BBQ again showed its worth, grilling salmon and veggies as the winds swirled arouns us. But tucked in, and in our newly enclosed cockpit, we enjoyed the sunset.

May 25-26
Port Bedwell, South Pender Island


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Resting...
Port Bedwell doesn't really exist. It is a large (1.7 nm long, 0.5 nm wide) harbour with a few homes, a mooring field for Beaumont Marine Park (part of the Gulf Islands National Park), and Poet's Cove Resort and Marina. We planned to only spend one night here, but found too much to keep us busy to leave.
We left Montague Harbour in mid-morning, motoring out into Navy Channel where we raised the sails for a quiet (10-15 kts) west breeze. Down into Plumper Sound where we rounded the southern tip of South Pender Island and up into Port Bedwell.
Safely tied to a mooring ball, we dinghied ashore to the Poet's Cove Resort and Marina. This place takes itself seriously! It is a beautiful resort with all the amenities. We wandered through the grounds, finally unable to resist the charms of the bar and its outdoor patio and the warm sunshine. On our return to Estelle, we explored the landing options for hiking in the park. Signs warned us away from the remains of an ancient midden, but we finally found what looked like a good spot for the next day's hike.
Next morning we landed on the park beach and did some careful adjusting of lines to assure ourselves that the dinghy would not only be there when we returned, but also floating. The reason we were concerned is the height of the tides... 10' to 14'. We didn't want to find the dinghy floating 200m from shore, or high and dry 200m from the waters edge.
The hike, to a lookout on Mt Norman was listed as strenuous. And not well marked should have been added. But after three hours and few mis-steps, we were heading back down to find the dinghy floating perfectly... in a few feet of (cold) water.

May 27-28
Van Isle Marina

We left Port Bedwell in mid-morning, heading for Van Isle Marina in Sidney, just north of Victoria. The reason... a sleep-over with Henry and Johann!!!
Leaving Port Bedwell in a calm morning and with less than 10 nm to go, we decided to do a bit of exploring. Passing north of Moresby Island, we cautiously entered Royal Cove on the north end of Portland Island.
Portland Island has an interesting history. First Nations people utilized Portland Island going back 3,000 years as is verified from the middens that can be found on the island. Subsequently the island ended up being inhabited by Kanaka (Hawaiian) immigrants and was utilized primarily for farming purposes. An eccentric owner in the 1920's was Frank "One Arm" Sutton, a retired British army officer. Frank Sutton acquired the island with funds he had won gambling on horse races within China. The plan was to raise & train thoroughbred race horses on the island. All evidence of the old horse racing track and a golf course have now vanished.
In 1958 the island was presented as a gift from the Province of British Columbia to Princess Margaret to commemorate her visit to the province. It was apparently expected that the princess would accept the island and immediately return it but apparently she had other ideas for the next 9 years! Princess Margaret finally returned the island to the province of British Columbia in 1967 to be used as a park and it became known as Princess Margaret Marine Park. The Canadian Government bought the island from the Province of British Columbia and it became known once again as Portland Island and became a portion of the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve of Canada.
But today we just stuck our noses into Royal Cove where one boat was anchored with a stern tie to shore. There was room for three or four boats at max. Circling down to the south end anchorage, Princess Cove, we just passed by as we could see it was fully occupied. Rounding the southern tip, we anchored for lunch between Hood and Breckman Island where we watched the ferries coming and going from nearby Schwartz Bay.
After lunch, we continued our wandering trip through Stranger Passage and John Passage and into Tsehum Harbour, home of Van Isle Marina. In this small harbour there are three or four other marinas and a couple of yacht clubs, making it a busy spot.
Topping up with fuel we were soon settled in our berth and making ready for our visitors.
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And our visitors arrived on schedule with an impressive array of gear for one night. All settled, playing in the dinghy became the favorite passtime.
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For supper, we went into nearby Sidney. Back aboard, more dinghy play until bedtime.
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And surprisingly, all was quiet until 0700 hrs next morning, when dinghy play resumed.
After breakfast and more dinghy play, we were off to the nearby Buchart Gardens for an enjoyable morning.
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For lunch, we headed for nearby Zanzibar Cafe where we enjoyed a great lunch. When I went up to pay the bill, the waitress said it had been paid! Apparently, a patient of Sarah's had seen her and paid it for us! Very kind!
Back at the marina, we said goodby to our guests and headed back aboard for the night.


May 29
Royal Cove


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Stern Tie in Royal Cove

Plans for the balance of our cruise were the US San Juan Islands. But being the end of the Memorial Day weekend, we decided to postpone our arrival at US customs until the next day. So the plan was to return to Royal Cove on Portland Island for the night. Arriving, there was one boat already anchored, using a stern tie to shore. But with lots of room, we were soon settled, executing our first stern tie without too much confusion.
Stern ties are common in this area, and used for two reasons. First, in crowded anchorages, their use in crowded anchorages reduces swinging room. The second use is a bit unique to this area where water depths can be quite deep right up to shore. By droping the anchor on a steeply sloping bottom, the stern tie means the anchor will pull only "uphill" towards shore where it can dig in. In any offshore wind, the stern tie holds the boat where the anchor would otherwise trip in the deep water.
As part of the Gulf Islands National Park, there was a nice dinghy dock in the cove, where we tied the dinghy for a short walk on one of the trails.

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Curious Racoon

A nice quiet night. Tomorrow, off to the US San Juan Islands!

Gulf Islands Spring Cruise Part 1

21 July 2017 | BC Gulf Islands
Warm spring weather
Swift Current and Estelle, Victoria Inner Harbour

May 15-17
Strait Marine, Steveston

On Monday afternoon we arrived back in Steveston at Strait Marine, where Estelle has been waiting for us. The remaining day was spent restoring order to Estelle after we had packed everything away for the installation of our new cockpit enclosure. On Tuesday, Frank Mastars came down to review the new features. An excellent job, and perfect for north-west cruising. The afternoon was spent on small maintenance jobs and preparation for a haulout next day. Wednesday we hauled out for a quick rinse of the hull, change of prop zinc and to free a frozen seacock (not a job to be done in the water). All jobs complete, we were back in the water for our final night at Strait Marine.

May 18
Royal Vancouver Yacht Club, Scott Point Outstation
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We were off the Strait Marine dock by 0830 hrs. A bit early for us, but Strait Marine is a busy spot and the quicker we were out of the way the better. We also took maximum advantage of the outgoing current in the Fraser River, and were bearing off for Active Pass in no time. In the 15 knot SE breeze we enjoyed a beautiful close reach for the short 13 mile trip across the Strait of Georgia. Unlike our previous passage, we were able to time it so that we missed the ferry traffic and enjoyed a nice 4 knot boost from the current.
Through the pass, we bore off and motored up Long Harbour on Saltspring Island to the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club's very comfortable Scott Point outstation. Here we were met by Howard and Lynn Bradbrooke on Swift Current. As members, they extended a very warm welcome. Rafted up to Swift Current, we toured the very comfortable facilities and settled in for the night.

May 19
Royal Victoria Yacht Club
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Next morning, after a walk around Scott Point, we cast off with Swift Current... cruise underway!! In a light wind day, we motored down through Captain Passage, Swanson Channel winding between the Gulf Islands and dodging ferries. Out into Sidney Channel we passed Sidney Island with its beautiful (and busy) Sidney Spit anchorage. Out into Haro Strait, through Baynes Channel and we were motoring into Cadboro Bay, home of the Royal Victoria Yacht Club. With our membership in the Vancouver Rowing Club and Swift Current's Royal Van membership, we both enjoyed reciprocal privileges, including two free nights. That evening, we walked up the dock to welcome our two grandsons, Henry and Johann, and mother Sarah.
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Henry & Johann with Mommy, Royal Vic YC

For their first visit, they just came aboard, enjoyed a snack and headed for the club playground.
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May 20
Royal Victoria Yacht Club
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A full day of light duties, walking, eating, enjoying warm sunshine. In the evening we welcomed Henry, Johann and Sarah to the club dining room. Another great evening. And we discussed the next day's planned excursion with the boys, a trip from Royal Vic around to Victoria's inner harbour. All set for an exciting day!

May 21-22
Victoria Inner Harbour
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At 0830 hrs we met our eager crew on the dock. Settling in, we prepared to get underway. Clearly Henry had not planned on quite this much excitement, as, casting off, he burst into tears. But minutes later, with snacks coming out, all was again well. And as we rounded Shoal Point and the harbour came into view, he was quickly pointing out the landmarks of the city. Tied up at Wharf Street Marina, we set out to find a restaurant for lunch. Met by Daddy (Hagen) we settled in for lunch at Milestones Grill. Too much excitement for Johann, he put his head down on the table and slept.
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In the afternoon we bid our guests good-by and wandered the waterfront. That evening was fish & chips from Victoria's famous Red Fish Blue Fish. The 1/2 hour line-up and wait were well worth it!
Next day was more touring. Even though we often visit Victoria to see Sarah and family, we somehow never find the time to just wander the downtown. So we spent an enjoyable day relaxing and playing tourist.

A Quick Cruise Through The Gulf Islands

28 April 2017 | Steveston, BC
Cloudy, 15C, Wind SE@15
A Quiet Evening in Pirates Cove

18 April 2017 Pender Harbour
Pender
Last night in Pender Harbour
Today we drove from Whistler to Pender Harbour to begin our new chapter in cruising... Coastal British Columbia. After wintering at the dock of Rollie and Evie Rolston, Estelle was ready for her new adventures. Having arrived late in the afternoon, we just did the essential loading and unloading that allowed us to make supper and find space in the berth for sleeping.

19 April 2017 Pender Harbour
With a forecast for rain, we jumped up and began the job of getting the sails on before the rain began. Fortunately it kindly held off until the job was finally done in early afternoon. Installing the main became more of a project than necessary as the installation of the new Mack Pack was a slow project due to some unclear instructions. But all was complete, all loading and unloading complete in time for dinner.

20 April 2017 Pirates Cove, DeCourcy Island

By 0900 hrs we were casting our lines off to begin our first BC cruise. The plan was for a short cruise back to Strait Marine where we launched last fall. Cruising in BC can be a cool affair, even in summer, so we have ordered a complete cockpit enclosure.
Motoring quietly out Pender Harbour, we passed countless small marinas telling of how busy the small harbour would be in mid-summer. But today we were alone in the harbour. Bearing off, we laid our course for Silva Bay, a small harbour just off the southern tip of Gabriola Island, about 25 miles away. Even in the calm airs the temperatures were cool enough for us to dream about our new enclosure. Our course required a slight dog-leg in mid strait to avoid "WG" zone, a naval testing zone. We watched two military ships moving back and forth in the area and were told by "Winchesley Control" that the area was active, so we stayed well clear. Approaching Silva Bay, we noticed in the current tables that the current in Gabriola Passage had just turned in our favour and was running at just two knots. So, rather than stop in Silva Bay and have to wait tomorrow for slack, we decided to head through.

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Rainbow in Pirates Cove

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Pirates Treasure in Pirates Cove

The Gulf Islands cruising area is an area off the east side of Vancouver Island extending up to about Nanaimo. The cruising area is primarily created by four islands running in a south-east direction with "passes" between. And currents in the passes can run up to 9 knots, so have to be taken seriously.
Safely through Gabriola Pass, we motored down into Pirates Cove, a tiny harbour with a provincial park ashore. We were told by "John", one of about 10 people living on the island permanently, that in summer the tiny harbour could have up to 70 boats in it, jammed in cheek to cheek. To manage it, there are chains along the shore requiring an anchor off the bow and a stern tie ashore, all managed by a busy harbourmaster.
Ashore we went on a nice hike and met a group of early season kayakers out for a cruise. Back aboard, we sat in the cockpit until the cool evening air drove us below to the cabin warmed by the espar heater.
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Anchored in the protection of the Gulf Islands waiting for a berth in Vancouver

21 April 2017 Glenthorne Passage, Prevost Island
Today we woke to another dry day, a rarity this spring, and headed out on our way south. The plan is to be close to Active Pass for Sunday morning when we will head across to the Fraser River and Strait Marine.
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Porlier Pass
Again in calm airs, we motored down winding through the islands and passages until we rounded up in Ganges Harbour. Ganges is clearly the social and boating center of Saltspring Island.
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In the busy little harbour we worked our way in between the mooring field and the seaplane taxi lane. We dropped anchor and took the dinghy ashore where we found a pretty town with everything a cruiser could need... grocery store, bakery, specialty coffee, wine/beer and basic marine supplies. And we supported each one, ensuring an excellent meal for our 44th anniversary.
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Downtown Ganges

Back aboard, we decided to find a quieter spot for the night and motored 3 miles across Captain Passage to drop anchor in Glenthorne Passage where we shared a protected anchorage with two other cruisers. In spite of the forecast for 20-30 knot winds, we enjoyed a quiet night.
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Glenthorne Passage

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44th Anniversary Dinner.


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22April 2017 Montague Harbour, Galiano Island
In the morning we wasted no time in getting underway. In spite of the lack of wind in the night, the forecast was still for even higher winds and heavy rain to start in the afternoon. So we were underway and motoring into Montague Harbour by 1000 hrs. Montague Harbour is surrounded by huge cliffs in all directions. In the north end, we picked up a mooring from the provincial park and headed ashore to hike the park's well kept parks. Although the rain did begin, we were sheltered in the dense foliage of the park. And we could feel the wind begin to rise. After an excellent hike, we were back aboard and battening down for a nasty afternoon.
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Driftwood Art, Montague Harbour Provincial Park
A quick check of conditions out in mid-strait confirmed that the winds really had gotten up to gale force. But in the shelter of the surrounding mountains, we had only a few light gusts. So by mid-afternoon we were headed ashore into the small village of Montague Harbour in light rain and breeze.Montague Harbour does not take a full day to visit. In fact, a 20 minute walk allowed us to see its sights. So back aboard for the evening, we tucked down below, again talking about the anticipated benefits of our new enclosure.

23 April 2017 Strait Marine, Steveston, BC
Sea Lion
Sea Lion on the Fraser River Breakwater

Today's plan had two objectives... Plan A, get through Active Pass at slack and Plan B, enter the Fraser River at its lowest outflow, about 3/4 hr before high tide. Plan A worked, sort of. Dropping the mooring at 0910 hrs, we motored out Montague Harbour and down to the entrance of the pass. The currents felt right, so we headed in... followed by the Spirit of BC, one of the BC ferries between Vancouver and Vancouver Island. And just to make the morning more entertaining, Victoria Marine Traffic (listening to us talk to the Spirit of BC), suggested we contact the Spirit of Vancouver Island, entering the pass from the other direction. So, we just tucked into a small cove and watcher the ferries pass in the narrow confines of the pass.
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Spirit of BC entering Active Pass
Once outside, we set our course for the mouth of the Fraser. But our plan to arrive 3/4 hr before high tide was soon abandoned as we rushed across the strait in a 15 kt beam reach. A beautiful sail. At the river mouth we waited for a tug and tow to exit, and began chugging up the 6 mile channel, against a 3 knot current. But at 1500 hrs, we were safely tied to the docks of Strait Marine. Cruise over.
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Steveston Harbour, Canada's largest fishing harbour

From here, not sure. We're here until the canvas work is done, probably a week. Then, depending on weather, we will begin cruising further north... Desolation Sound and the Broughtons, always weather dependent, but with our new enclosure...

Skiing our way through Winter

14 February 2017 | Whistler, BC
Sunny, Village +1C, Alpint -6C
Exit after a great run through Flute Bowl

Well, winter is passing quickly, and here in Whistler we have had the best (for skiers, that is) snow winter in years.
But we haven't forgotten about Estelle, waiting patiently for us in Pender Harbour. We have been up to check on her a few times finding all well. And with some small "take-home" jobs, coupled with studying BC cruising guides, we have been getting ready for the coming cruising season.
We are looking forward to exploring the vast cruising areas here in BC, with plenty of territory to keep us busy for years.
Plans are to head back to Vancouver to have a new cockpit enclosure installed in early April, then, depending on weather, start cruising some time after mid-April, depending on the spring.
We'll see.

To the Sunshine Coast

13 November 2016 | Pender Harbour
Rain, 12C, Light winds
Downtown Vancouver

Well, October did turn out to be the rainiest month on record... 28 of 31 days! And November started out the same. So Estelle sat at the very comfortable docks of the Vancouver Rowing Club in Stanley Park, downtown Vancouver, waiting for a break in the weather to head to her winter home in Pender Harbour.
Neighbors in Whistler, hearing that we were looking for a winter berth, offered us their empty dock in Pender Harbour, about 60 miles north of Vancouver, and we quickly accepted! The only problem was getting there! With the rains, the marine forecast was filled with gale warnings, so we just sat tight.
Finally, a short two day window appeared, and we headed down to Vancouver to stock up for the short two day trip.
On Nov 8th, we made final preps for the trip, and in the evening walked over to watch the US election results with friends Howard and Lynn Bradbrooke. We met Howard and Lynn in Panama and cruised north with them, and followed their lead in shipping Estelle across to BC. Their boat, Swift Current lies in the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club's Coal Harbour marina just feet from Estelle.
Staring glumly at the depressing forecasts, we called Howard for "local knowledge", and he steered us in the right direction, pointing out the narrow window.
So we walked over to their nearby home to (we thought) celebrate the US election. But we all know the result, so I'll ignore that part of the evening. Other than the election results, we had a great evening.
Next morning, after the rain stopped, we topped off the fuel tanks and headed out First Narrows and north west up the coast. Early afternoon we tied up at one of BC's many marine parks, Plumper Harbour, and hiked an excellent 5 km path through the "temperate rain forest". Back aboard we turned on the Espar for warmth and to dry out the boat. A quiet evening celebrating out first BC cruise.

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Estelle at Plumper Cove
In the morning we were off and up the coast. We only met one sailboat, heading south towards Vancouver.
Passing through Welcome Passage we reluctantly passed such intriguing anchorages as Smugglers Cove and Secret Cove, leaving them for next summer. Our objective was to get Estelle settled in Pender Harbour before the rain returned so we pushed on.
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Entering Gunboat Bay, Pender Harbour
Entering Pender Harbour, we passed numerous quiet marinas and wound our way into Gunboat Bay, Estelle's winter home. Here we tied up at the dock of our neighbours, Bob and Evie Rolston.
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Estelle's winter home
Safely tied up, we took off the sails and arranged a heater and de-humidifier below, and Estelle is set for the winter!
Next spring, the BC coast awaits!!
Vessel Name: Estelle
Vessel Make/Model: Bristol 41.1
Hailing Port: Charlottetown, PEI
Crew: Jeannie & Jim Lea
About: Flag Counter
Extra: After cruising the east coast of North America for 10 years, from Nova Scotia to Panama, it's time for a change. Estelle will be cruising the coast of British Columbia and Alaska beginning in 2017.
Estelle's Photos - The Voyage of S/V Estelle (Main)
15 Photos
Created 19 November 2017
Our cruise of the Gulf Islands and San Juan Islands in May & June, 2017
84 Photos
Created 21 July 2017
Our first BC cruise, from Pender Harbour to Strait Marine in Steveston BC
26 Photos
Created 27 April 2017
Estelle's arrival in Vancouver
8 Photos
Created 31 October 2016
63 Photos
Created 28 July 2016
Our first year cruising... Exumas, Bahamas.
11 Photos
Created 28 July 2015
69 Photos
Created 24 July 2015
17 Photos
Created 31 May 2015
8 Photos
Created 12 April 2015
25 Photos
Created 4 December 2014
3 Photos
Created 30 November 2014
20 Photos
Created 20 November 2014
5 Photos
Created 20 November 2014
13 Photos
Created 13 November 2014
20 Photos
Created 9 November 2014
Pics of our trip from Mount Desert Islans to the Saint John River in July 2014.
64 Photos
Created 14 August 2014
15 Photos
Created 9 May 2014
60 Photos
Created 20 September 2013
18 Photos
Created 3 April 2013
50 Photos
Created 14 January 2013
104 Photos
Created 12 December 2012
40 Photos
Created 1 December 2012
23 Photos
Created 10 November 2012
19 Photos
Created 25 October 2012
14 Photos
Created 13 March 2012
47 Photos
Created 6 March 2012
59 Photos
Created 1 March 2012
70 Photos
Created 27 February 2012
107 Photos
Created 21 January 2012
Nov/Dec 2011
48 Photos
Created 17 December 2011
San Blas Islands
4 Photos
Created 17 December 2011
58 Photos
Created 17 November 2011
23 Photos
Created 29 October 2011
22 Photos
Created 26 October 2011
49 Photos
Created 10 May 2011
52 Photos
Created 29 March 2011
18 Photos
Created 18 March 2011
18 Photos
Created 18 March 2011
Feb, 2011
67 Photos
Created 11 February 2011
33 Photos
Created 7 February 2011
34 Photos
Created 4 December 2010
33 Photos
Created 4 December 2010
62 Photos
Created 17 November 2010
39 Photos
Created 15 November 2010
41 Photos
Created 31 October 2010
25 Photos
Created 4 October 2010
17 Photos
Created 4 October 2010
15 Photos
Created 3 October 2010
13 Photos
Created 1 October 2010
9 Photos
Created 1 October 2010
14 Photos
Created 1 October 2010
Some photos at John Williams Boatyard as we prepare for departure.
7 Photos
Created 14 September 2010
Our trip to various BC ski resorts Jan-Feb 2010
69 Photos
Created 7 February 2010
August/Sept in Maine
58 Photos
Created 29 August 2009
Our trip from Norfolk Va to Mount Desert Island, June 20th to July 7th, 2009. Gerard Watts aboard as crew!
89 Photos
Created 8 July 2009
11 Photos
Created 26 April 2009
65 Photos | 2 Sub-Albums
Created 22 March 2009
65 Photos | 2 Sub-Albums
Created 11 February 2009
43 Photos
Created 29 January 2009
42 Photos
Created 29 January 2009
5 Photos
Created 23 December 2008
27 Photos
Created 22 December 2008
Our trip from Maine to Miami
108 Photos
Created 19 December 2008
Pics from Jan to June 2008, Bahamas to Maine
50 Photos
Created 18 June 2008
Trip south from Maine to Bahamas, Sept-Dec 2007
42 Photos
Created 26 December 2007
14 Photos
Created 25 December 2007
4 Photos
Created 21 August 2007
These are pictures of The Hermitage on Cat Island, Bahamas. It was built single-handedly by Faather Jerome who was sent out by the Church of England to rebuild churches destroyed in the hurricanes in the early 20th century. He then converted to catholicism and built a number of Roman Catholic churches until he sought and received permission to build this hermitage where he spent the remainder of his life.
10 Photos | 1 Sub-Album
Created 24 June 2007
1 Photo
Created 24 June 2007
21 Photos
Created 23 June 2007
3 Photos
Created 12 June 2007
These pictures were taken while on Long Island, Bahamas, in February, 2007
6 Photos
Created 11 March 2007
This album contains some photos of our time in the Jumentos Islands, in the Bahamas
11 Photos
Created 11 March 2007
3 Photos
Created 11 March 2007
9 Photos
Created 11 March 2007
4 Photos
Created 11 March 2007
19 Photos
Created 11 March 2007
18 Photos
Created 11 March 2007
13 Photos | 2 Sub-Albums
Created 11 March 2007
9 Photos
Created 11 March 2007
5 Photos
Created 11 March 2007
18 Photos
Created 11 March 2007