Photo: Roadside art on Lasqueti Island.
The engine rumbled under my feet as we motored south down Georgia Strait from Gorge Harbour, heading for False Bay on Lasqueti Island.
Lasqueti hadn't been our original destination when we'd put together an itinerary several days ago. From Gorge Harbour we had planned to sail to Comox to visit a friend, then go on to Nanoose Harbour to see two more friends. But then we discovered our friends were all on vacation. And when the weather forecast predicted calms that day and strong southerlies the next we decided to make a long run to Lasqueti instead of a short one to Comox. That would give us a day to relax at Lasqueti while we waited for the weather to improve.
We had just anchored and were relaxing below after a long tedious motor when I heard a knock on Osprey
's hull. I put my head out the hatch and saw a round-faced man in a blue rowboat.
"Hello, I'm Angus," he told us. "We've met before. I first saw you in Nootka Sound (on the West Coast of Vancouver Island) and once we tied up together in Emily Carr Inlet" (on B.C.'s north coast).
I was amazed that he had recognized us. I remembered a pleasant afternoon tied up to another boat in Emily Carr Inlet, but would not have recognized the people or their boat; it was years ago, in 1999. But Angus had an advantage over us; we sailed a recognizable green boat while he sailed a plain white one. He also had a copy of Voyages to Windward
so even knew our names.
Angus told us that he had lived on Lasqueti for over thirty years. He owned a house but in the summer he rented it out and lived on his boat.
"Would you like to use my car?" he asked us when we told him we planned to take a storm day and stay in False Bay the next day. He told us where it would be and promised to leave the keys in the ignition.
But the next morning rain came down in sheets and gusts swirled around the harbor. We would have been soaked by the time we got ashore. It wasn't until afternoon that the rain backed off to a gentle patter.
"We'd better go now if we're going to go at all," said Steve, putting on his foul weather gear.
I wasn't enthusiastic about going ashore in the rain, but I wanted to see the island whose residents have a reputation of living a lifestyle of an earlier era.
We took the dinghy to the town dock, walked up the ramp past the Lasqueti Inn, then past rows of parked cars (belonging to ferry passengers) to a small building with a psychedelic sign announcing "Lasqueti Arts Centre." A row of white-tented booths outside the Centre dripped in the rain. Inside each tent industrious children and adults painted, carved, or sewed. Thursdays are arts days on Lasqueti we learned.
Photo: Lasqueti Arts Centre
The rain had finally stopped and we strolled down the street until we came to a garage with more psychedelic painting over the door. Angus had told us he would be working there (he's a carpenter) and would leave his car behind the garage. It wasn't there.
The sights of Lasqueti Island were better seen on foot anyway. I examined a brightly colored painting nailed to a tree. What was it doing there in the middle of nowhere?
Farther along we came to a small gift shop. We browsed through tie-dyed dresses, pottery and books by local authors. A display of hand puppets of northwest animals caught our attention. Steve bought an eagle for his grand niece.
"The Free Store is open today," the clerk told us as she wrapped the puppet.
We found the Free Store down the road. Boxes of books, old sofas and a toilet occupied the porch. Inside we found racks of old clothes, worn shoes and shelves of miscellaneous toys. Many things appeared to have been used more than once, passed from hand to hand around the island. It was a sobering reminder that life in such an isolated place can be a struggle. But not for everyone. A short distance up the road, we peeked through gate next to a help-yourself vegetable stand to see a veritable mansion.
Beyond the store we came to a quaint wooden house with a sign saying, "The Old Bakery." I was disappointed to read the fine print on the sign and learn it was a B&B, not a Bakery. Painted on the eaves of the house were the words, "No bras allowed on island."
Photo: The Old Bakery B&B
"This place feels like it's from another era all right," I told Steve. "The sixties."
Back in the anchorage we found Angus on his boat. He'd left work early because of the rain. That's why the car hadn't been there.
That evening we shared a dinner with Angus onboard Osprey.
We learned that Lasqueti has no electricity but it does have municipal water, telephones and wifi. "Everyone figures out the electricity their own way," Angus told us. "Some use generators, some solar panels. It's not a problem."
Angus left us with the phone number of his brother in Nanaimo who had a dock we could tie up to there.
We'd spent an evening with a friend after all.