Nanoose Harbour. August 30, 2012. 49 16.2N 124 10.2W
10 September 2012
Photo: Nanoose Hill with oyster farm at base.
Anchor in Nanoose Harbour? We hadn’t known that was possible. When we’d come up and down this coast before we’d hardly glanced at Nanoose on the chart. It looked deep, unprotected and crisscrossed with foreboding words warning that the harbor was a “controlled area” due to Canadian Navy facilities on shore. We assumed that if we wanted to go to Nanoose, we had to go to Schooner Cove Marina. But Mexi, whom we had met in Alaska last summer, and who had invited us to visit her and her husband at their home in Nanoose, emailed us that it was a good anchorage. She even sent us the exact latitude and longitude of where we should anchor - all the way in the northwest corner.
We crossed Georgia Strait to Nanoose from False Bay on Lasquetti Island. A brisk northwesterly pushed us along. It was one of the best sailing days we’d had all summer and helped make up for the day before when we had had a grueling beat into a stiff southerly to get to Lasquetti.
As we approached Nanoose, we could see the masts at Schooner Cove Marina surrounded by highrise apartments, a reminder that we were approaching the urban area of Nanaimo. We were still leery of the controlled access area, so when we were close to Winchelsea Island, where the control tower for the Whiskey Golf military area sits, Steve called and asked what the regulations were for anchoring in Nanoose Harbour. The man who replied seemed surprised. “There’s no problem. Boats go in there and anchor all the time,” he said.
The wind died as we rounded the corner into the harbor and we motored the rest of the way in, past the naval docks and past a row of oyster rafts, all the way to the northwest corner where we anchored under the 250 m Nanoose Hill. Steep, dry and sparsely populated with only a few houses, it made me think of something from the U.S. Southwest. Except that an oyster harvesting boat was hauling up bags of oyster just a few yards from us.
Mexi and her husband Adrian (Mexi is from Mexico and Adrian is from Holland) met us on the beach and drove us up the hill to their house in their little Fiat 500. From their living room window, we looked down on Nanoose harbor --and a group of deer in their garden. We enjoyed a delightful afternoon and were served a delicious dinner. Like us, Mexi and Adrian and visited Gardner Canal that summer and it was fun to talk about it with them.
After dinner we walked back down the hill to a quiet evening on Osprey in a pleasant protected anchorage.
One of the delights of cruising is meeting interesting people. In this case the people also introduced us to a new and interesting anchorage.