Almost 11 months ago, we left Blaine Harbor for a little sailing adventure down the western US coast and on to Mexico. We've now "closed the loop" as it's called and Thor is now tied up at a slip in Blaine Harbor. Yesterday, we safely crossed the Straight of Georgia over to Point Roberts, WA to clear customs and then the final stretch to Blaine. After leaving Montague Harbor, we had to transit the last pass on our voyage, busy Active Pass. Active Pass is a wider passage than several of the others we transited, and the current is not quite as strong but we planned to go through with the flood current and enjoyed a 2 knot boost of favorable current along the 2 mile stretch. While in the pass we encountered two very large BC Ferries...one coming and one going, and in the pass at the same time! These mammoth ships travel at speeds up to 22 knots and can be very intimidating especially in the confined space of a pass. But we gave them plenty of room and had no problems. On the other end of Active Pass is the Straight of Georgia and we motored the 10 miles to Point Roberts with no wind and a choppy confused sea. Point Roberts is a small community on a penninsula that juts into the Straight of Georgia...to get to Point Roberts by vehicle, you have to pass through Canadian Customs into Canada and then pass back through US Customs into Point Roberts. Kind of interestesting...Google it and look it up on MapQuest to see what it looks like. After clearing customs, we set sail toward Blaine. A nice breeze came up from the southeast and we had a very nice sail all the rest of the way...and the sun was out, too! A nice end to our trip.
The trip was great...we'd do it again and probably will sometime in the future. It's great to be home but still bittersweet as we will miss being on the boat for the extended time. This will be our final post to the blog although will be posting pictures to the previous blogs now that we have internet service available. And we also will be trying to post additional pictures in groups or "albums" if I can figure out how to do it, so check back for that if you are interested!
We left Silva Bay at 07:30 this morning in order to catch the slack tide at yet another narrow pass between islands. This one is Gabriola Passage
between Gabriola and Valdes Islands. The current can run up to 8 knots through here and passing through on the slack is the safest way to do it.
We had a 20 mile run down Trincomali Channel and soon anchored at Mantague Marine Park. This park is the most popular marine park in British
Columbia and there are well over 100 boats anchored and on mooring bouys here. This will be our last stop in Canada before heading back in to US
waters and clearing US Customs. We plan on doing that tomorrow at Point Roberts, Washington.
We arrived in Silva Bay after a long run south in the Straight of Georgia. Conditions were not the best...12-15 knots of wind right on the bow causing a
chop of short period wind waves. It was an 8 hour day and we are glad to have the hook down. We had two options for today's
destination...Nanaimo or Silva Bay and since we had not been to Silva Bay before, we opted to check it out. Silva Bay has the only services for
boaters on Gabriola Island...there are two marinas here and our cruising guide mentioned a wonderful small store. We were running low on a few
things and the store sounded like a good idea. But after rowing ashore, much to our dismay, the store was closed down last fall! So no groceries!
Guess we'll be eating out of cans for the next little bit. While ashore, we stretched our legs with a 4 mile walk along a nice island road. It was a pretty
day with a mostly sunny sky. Silva Bay is another bay in which a number of locals have filled up the anchorage with mooring bouys. We have found
it pretty common in Canada...apparently there are no regulations against anyone placing a private mooring bouy any place of their choosing. So
many choice anchorages are full of local boats on mooring bouys. Many of these boats are either "project boats" or downright neglected derelicts.
Visiting cruisers like us have a hard time finding room to anchor among the moored boats.
While on the subject of Canadian boats...we've noticed that many (even most?) of the boats registered in Canada don't fly their national flag. Kind of
sad actually...it's a tradition to fly your national flag from the stern of your vessel. We also have noticed many names on Canadian boats that will
have a II or III or IV or V after them (Roman numerals). This is because if a vessel is registered in Canada that already has the name that you would
like to use, you have to add the numeral after it. Just an observation, but I know if I have a boat that is "my boat" I would not want to share a name with
anyone else and would be very hard pressed to come up with a name that is unique and custom to my own vessel. Where is the sense of creativity
for a boat name?
Oh, and finally, it seems that it must be customary for many of the boaters here to leave fenders hanging over the side of their boats. We sure have
seen them that do just that while underway and at anchor. Not sure why that is?
Today is America's Birthday...which makes it 235 years old I think? Way older than us anyway. Glad we live in the good old USA. Canada is nice, too, but I prefer to be an American. Canada does not have a paper one dollar bill for currency. They have a 5, 10, 20, 50, and so on but no one dollar bill. Instead they have a one dollar coin that is called a "loonie". Not to be mistaken for the Loon, a common marine bird. And get this...there is also a two dollar coin. And it's called a Toonie! I kid you not! Having a bunch of loonies and toonies in your pocket makes for a pretty heavy load but we go with the flow.
We left Gorge Harbor and had a full travel day cover just about 40 miles to Musket Cove Marine Park. Conditions were really nice, the wind was from the northwest (behind us), but light at 5-8 knots all day. We sailed much of the day, going wing and wing with the drifter up on the pole. We also had a favorable current, picking up about a knot over the ground. Musket Cove is another marine park, not real big but a popular stopover for boats heading north or south and we are sharing the anchorage with 8 other boats. However, besides us there is only one of the others that is stern tied with the rest swinging at anchor. The reason we stern tie is to provide room for more boats to anchor. I guess some others find it inconvenient to stern tie. If any more boats come in they will be hard pressed to find enough room to anchor.
Since we had a long day, yesterday, and today is now day number two with mostly sun and no rain, we are hanging out and relaxing today. Tomorrow, we are planning another 40 mile run to Silva Bay on Gabriola Island.
Today is Canada Day...Canada is 144 years old. Today is also the 10th day in a row that we have had rain. Today also happens to be the crappiest weather day that we have had...rain on and off all day with strong southeast winds. And cold, too, barely above 60 degrees. We are snug and protected in the anchorage at Gorge Harbor. Lorrie has beat me in three straight games of Scrabble. And we made brownies! A couple of days ago, we made a short run from Rebecca Spit to Gorge Harbor. Although it was only 8 miles, it was a nice sailing run with a northwest wind. We had a nice reach in 12-15 knots of wind. There is a marina here that reminds me of Deer Harbor on Orcas Island where we used to take the kids when they were younger. Mostly because they have a pool and the kids got a kick out of getting off the boat and going swimming. Gorge Harbor Marina is like that...since it is a holiday, the docks are full of family cruisers out for the holiday weekend. And despite the rain, the kids love the pool! There is also a restaurant, small store and laundry where we did our 5 loads that had piled up over the past few weeks. Our time is getting short and we have started our way south towards home one anchorage at a time and plan to be home sometime in the middle of the month, probably just in time for the sun to shine!
Today was day number 8 of rain...not steady rain, but we have had at least some rain, showers, every day for the past 8 days. Oh well, that's why we like the Pacific Northwest so much...keeps everything nice and green. It's doable. We spent 4 really nice days at Octopus Islands and even had some partially sunny days, too. Leaving there, we had to go through yet another tidal rapids this time called Surge Narrows and Beasley Passage. But like all of them, you read the tide and current tables and plan your passage for slack water. We did as we have before and since it was low tide, the big rocky shoal in the middle of the passage entertained us with a number of seals basking in the morning sun and clouds. We again had no wind and motored the 13 miles or so to Rebecca Spit. We took the dinghy across Drew Bay to Heriot Bay, visited the store there and picked up a few necessities. That evening, we spent a couple of hours on board Eagle with Tom and Jeanne out of Seattle. They were anchored at Octopus Islands with us as well and have been out cruising since the middle of April. They plan to head to Mexico later this summer and we traded some cruising stories and boat ideas. Yesterday was a shore day, walking part of the 2 mile shoreline of Rebecca Spit, both inside the bay and outside. This spit is one of those that has tons of driftwood logs at the top of the rocky beach along the entire length. Plenty to poke around in and beach comb. Lots of eagles, here of course, and smaller water fowl. This marine park is very popular park with pit toilets, picnic areas, and benches. And since it's part of Quadra Island, there's a ferry that services Heriot Bay right next door. We enjoyed our stay here.