Back to Nanaimo and Moving South
26 July 2016
We left Refuge Cove in Desolation Sound at 5 am on Saturday morning, July 16th, and planned to keep moving south as long as the weather would let us. The goal was Pender Harbour on the Sunshine Coast, a place we enjoy very much. As luck would have it, our SYC friends Jack and Cassandra Bazhaw on Sandpiper were at the dock at Powell River/Westview, and as we passed the dock, they were just exiting the jetty and heading up to Desolation Sound! It would have been so fun to cruise with them for a few days, but we are at the point that we have to move every day in order to keep powered up, so we continued South and visited for a bit on the radio.
We arrived in Garden Bay in Pender Harbor and had the hook down by 12, so we took the time to go to our favorite grocery store on the Sunshine Coast – the Oak Tree Market. It is essentially an old time butcher shop with groceries, and they make all of their own sausages and smoke their own meat. Then a stop at the Thrift Shop which supports the community and I find something each time I go. This time, a pair of shorts – 3 bucks, and nearly new. Last time, a great seersucker overblouse and an electric citrus juicer – total 7 dollars. As we returned to our anchored boat, we find a 150 foot boat trying to turn and back into the marina behind our anchored Salish Mist – too close for comfort! When all was done, it was the After Eight, built right in Anacortes, and one of the largest motoryachts in the NW. The owners are the Wheaton family, who have the largest auto dealership chain in Canada, and are from Alberta. The owner was definitely on board as we dined next to them that night at the Garden Bay Pub. As we returned to our boat from dinner, the crew had unloaded 8 bicycles and 4 double kayaks for the owners choice and pleasure I guess. There is definitely another world out there, and it is not for us. The damned boat was at least 40 feet wide – maybe more, and 5 levels of stairs; the thought of meeting that in Dent Rapids or Dodd Narrows gave me bad dreams that night.
It’s starting to feel like a marathon, as we wake the next morning at 4:30 and are on our way at 5 again. This time it’s out Welcome Pass and setting a course for Nanaimo. For those who have not ventured this far, there is an interesting military area called Whiskey Gulf that is located on a direct route from the Sunshine Coast to Nanaimo. When it is active, the US and Canada are engaged in firing live torpedoes through the water defined by those area lines. It is nearly never active on weekends, and not usually on weekdays of high holiday useage. Imagine our delight (NOT) as we hear that Whiskey Golf is active, and we have to jink around the lines, when there is so much morning haze that we are cruising without a line of sight to the western shore. We set our course at a diagonal for the Halibut Bank marker, and then reset again for an angle that will put us in front of Entrance Island, off the Northumberland Channel between Gabriola Island and Nanaimo. The radio is active this morning with traffic from Winchelsea Control, the monitor of the military exercises, which is Channel 10, not 16. Boats are getting their hands spanked right and left for getting too close to the line, which makes us happy that we have chosen to stay off the line a bit more than the bare minimum. The Strait stinks up in the middle and though it is not our worst crossing by far, the swell is a bit upsetting to the stomach.
We take a mooring buoy in Mark Bay (first buoy this trip), on Newcastle Island, at about 11:30, just across from the Nanaimo Port docks. Not too bad. We averaged about 6.4 knots and since our cruising speed is normally 5.5- 5.8, we got about a ½ knot benefit from the ebbing tide coming across. After a little nap (and, frankly, a medicinal snort), we put the dingy together and go over to Newcastle Island for the first time ever. What a lovely park we have missed all these years. Between anchoring (free), docking ($2 per metre), or a $14 buoy, and with showers at 4 minutes a looney (Canadian dollar), if you don’t need water or power, this is the place to be. There are trails, interpretive markers and exhibits, and a Pavillion building that used to house balls and events and I’m sure is still used for weddings and such – built in the ‘20’s I think. It has burgers and wraps and ice cream now. With a dingy ride to the shopping Center across the bay in Nanaimo, and a dingy ride to the Dingy Dock Pub, which advertises as one of the longest continuous licensed premises in BC, you could spend a week easily here. Our club also has reciprocal priveledges at the Nanaimo Yacht Club, which has great water, laundry and showers and water and power on the docks.
We actually love Nanaimo, even though I reported on some negative changes to the economy of the old downtown. On Monday and Tuesday, we took moorage at the Port of Nanaimo docks. We found a very authentic Mexican restaurant about 6 blocks from the marina, and if you like fresh seafood, or mole, or tomatillo salsa, this is pretty durned good! Gina’s is the name, located in a converted old house, painted pink. Combination platters amounted to about 11.99 US, and Ral couldn’t clean his plate.
Wednesday the 20th, we are off the dock at 9:30 to make Dodd Narrows slack at 11:02. This is a big current change from over 8 kts to 7.5 kts. When the change is 2 or 3, or even 4 knots, we don’t worry much about being precise, but this is a large change and we don’t want to make the entrance more than 30 minutes early. WOW. We were about 35 minutes early and going with the last of the ebb, and the Narrows was still moving at about 3.5 knots – we posted 8.7 knots over the ground at one point. When we exited, northbound boats had already been inside with us, and there were at least 20 more boats lined up to go through. That is more boats than we saw in some anchorages in Desolation Sound – it must finally be summer!
Our original intention was to turn in to Ladysmith and anchor for one night, then move along. The weather was fine so we kept on going: destination Genoa Bay, which would put us within a couple of hours of Sydney, and then US waters. Genoa Bay, like many in BC, has rocks obstructing the entrance, a lovely marina inside, attached to ROADS since it is on Vancouver Island, and is across the bay from Cowichan Bay. The anchorage is great, good mud bottom, and about 25-30 feet all around. It still feels like being in the country, if not the wilderness. The Genoa Bay Café, which we have been patronizing since 2006, is still a fixture of gourmet meals in an out of the way location. We treat ourselves to lunch Thursday. The weather is expected to stink up Friday as a low comes in from offshore. Haro Strait and Juan de Fuca are more important over here than Strait of Georgia, so when the reports compete, we give Haro Strait the priority. When we can get off the dock here, hopefully tomorrow, we will skip Sydney this trip and head straight for Roche Harbor and home.
Thank you for sticking with us during our decisions and to-ing and fro-ing. We will keep traveling, and probably keep blogging.
The Passes and the Broughtons, And Back
16 July 2016
We left Blind Channel on the 3rd of July with a full larder, good ice, fuel, and two loaves of homemade bread and headed on the protected route north, avoiding Johnstone Strait as long as possible. Our goal was to take Green Point Rapids an hour and a half early, and Whirlpool Rapids about 2 hours late, and overnight in Forward Harbour until there was a good day to move into Johnstone Strait, and then hopefully into Port Harvey, so we could jink around the back way into the Broughtons by way of Chatham Channel, another rapid of sorts. Green Point and Whirlpool run at 7 knots on spring tides (kinda like Dodd Narrows). Chatham runs to 5 knots; we know this because in 2009 we read the wrong listing for the max flow and ran down it at 1.2 knots. Our friends were out the other side calling to ask us if we had gone aground because we didn’t come out when they did – they were a 7 knot boat. It’s only a mile long passage, and it was one of the longer boating hours we have spent!
Anyway, that was the plan. Remember, we had already run three very large rapids three days prior. And we had been through these smaller ones 5 times previously. If you want to know how two round trips to the Broughtons equals 5 times through the rapids, you will have to ask me in person. So the plan was to get into Forward Harbour, crab a little, and see what the weather radio said. This was Monday morning. Tuesday morning we took a run to the beach at the very low tide and I am so glad we did! The intertidal zone was filled with small stars – green and ruby and yellow. There were sea cucumbers and crab and clams everywhere – cockles and littlenecks and BUTTER CLAMS. This is a rocky beach, just perfect for butter clams. It had loads of green weed, to keep the beach cool during the low tide. We stopped walking, and the beach was talking! I swear if you closed your eyes, you could imagine 200 years ago, the granny clams were gossiping and spitting, the tiny spree of the crabs scuttling sounded like kids playing; the seaweed sounded like it was aspirating as the sun dried out the grass; it was the most amazing sound – the beach was truly alive and talking over the news of the day.
Tuesday morning we ran the engine for an hour to keep the batteries topped up, and decided to do it again Tuesday night because Wednesday was a great weather window for Johnstone Strait, and the back door into the Broughtons. And the engine did not start. (This is the 4th of July, actually.)
Raleigh starts troubleshooting and I start calculating what Plan B – or C or D – might look like. Oh, and I pass tools. I feel like the surgical nurse on Marcus Welby, MD, except I am passing channel locks, sockets, wire strippers and small bowls to hold nuts and washers, instead of scalpels and sponges. By 10 pm, Raleigh has rebuilt the ignition switch, and the starter, tested the alternator, regulator, and everything else he can think of. My calculations, between the wire strippers and channel locks, placed us 59 miles from Pt. McNeil at the north of Vancouver Island, and 58 miles from Campbell River. One distance takes us through Johnstone Strait, and the other through serious rapids.
At the risk of an AHA! Award from our cruising club, I am telling you the rest of the story. We turned off everything on the boat – no mast light, nothing, and turned off the battery switch completely. And we had a few choice words for the really smart technician who didn’t re-ground the alternator regulator after removing and reattaching the alternator, which I say fried our batteries. (At this point, Raleigh says I have to think more charitably about the fellow, but you all know we did not make it to our own cruise in May because of this dude. So I will change the subject so my karma will not explode.) In the morning, after another try and another failure at starting the engine, we had two choices: ask for a tow to Blind Channel, where we had just been – through two rapids and 14 miles, or a tow to Pt. Harvey – through Johnstone Strait and nearly 24 miles. Victoria Coast Guard radio put out the bulletin, and we got an offer of a tow for each location! We accepted the Blind Channel commercial tow first, and knew the 26 year old tow captain (woman) personally; a crabber just outside our bay offered a tow to Pt Harvey, but we could not turn down a tow we had just accepted. It took Jess just 45 minutes to reach us from Blind Channel, and two hours to return through both rapids to the dock. (In case you are wondering, the going rate for commercial tow for us pleasure boaters is 200.00 per hour. We thought it would be more.)
After taking power on the dock for the day, the engine started right up Wednesday evening. But now two days of really snotty weather was predicted (and the prediction came true!) so we spend three nights total, again, on the Blind Channel docks. Silver linings: meeting some great folks from Alberta near Lake Louise and Banff, and having the 120 foot Thea Foss tie up next to us on our last night on the dock. What a beautiful grand dame she is – not a nylon line on her, and it was a joy to watch her come in.
Finally, on Saturday the 9th, the weather in Johnstone Strait is predicted clear and light winds all day. We are off the dock at 6 am, and through the rapids again; the weather and wind are still fine at Forward Harbour, so we keep going; still fine as we enter the Strait and still fine at Port Neville, so we keep going. Still fine at Pt. Harvey, so we go in to anchor in the bay. Progress at last; tomorrow we will go around the corner and officially be in the Broughtons! Sunday the prediction is ok, but near gale in the evening. We made it through Chatham Channel at almost 6 knots (not our best, but certainly not that worst speed I reported!) And as we come around the corner, we can see Lagoon Cove through the Blow Hole behind Minstrel Island and it is full.
So we enter Cutter Cove for the first time ever. There is not a consistent report on this cove in any of the guide books, so let me share with you: if you have ever anchored in Ganges, on Salt Spring Island, and you know the feel of soft thin mud, with hard shale beneath, that is what is in here. Since no one else in their right mind has thought to take anchorage in the cove, we don’t worry about dragging on anyone. It is very pretty; very like Theodosia Inlet in Desolation Sound, or Viner Sound in the Broughtons. It is a low, low flat with a creek meandering through it with high hills, then mountains in the background. There are homestead and logging ruins at the southeastern shore. It looks like a bear beach to me. At about 2:30 we were nearly given heart attacks because a dynamite blast went off in the hills I just described! All of the dust settled out of the air and our hearts returned to our chests. I guess there is a big rock in the way of building a logging road.
The storm blew out and left the next morning fresh and sunny. We passed Lagoon Cove and headed for Potts Lagoon which is at the south end of Clio Channel, a clear pretty pass. As we entered the outer bay, the hillside had been blasted to bare rock and dirt, and there is a warning sign posted on the trees that says blast area. Luckily, we perservered, and went into the inner bay. WOW. A derelict pier, old remnants of house floats, 5 float homes in the bay, an abandoned log deck and log slide. It was just charming! In the afternoon at high tide we took the dingy to the very end of the lagoon. More evidence of pioneering days and fantastic bird life. We watched a pair of kingfishers go through the most amazing acrobatics – it was like aerial dueling banjos! But we were still having conversations about how low we could let the batteries go, and did we have to move every day, and if we went further north, we would be in bigger trouble, not less. And we remembered the year we met friends on Sonsie, in Nanaimo, who had power issues, and had to hang out in Madiera Park in Pender Harbor, and then turn back rather than take the trip they had planned.
So, after just really getting underway, we decide to turn back, cruise a little when we can, but plan to spend the cruising kitty on more docks to ensure power. Those who know us know this is not our preferred travel method.
We had a weather window and used it – two really long days got us back out Johnstone Strait and back through those dratted Rapids – all 5 of them, and collapsing into Squirrel Cove in Desolation Sound, after more than 80 nautical miles. After we fueled up and got water at Lagoon Cove, we saw 6 boats anchored in Cutter Cove in the settled weather, as we cruised by! And out into Johnstone Strait – whales! And as we left Sunderland Channel heading for Shoal Bay for the night – the biggest cinnamon grizzly bear- the first one we have ever seen. And as we left Shoal Bay for the rapids, a superpod of dolphins surround our boat, spashing, jumping, somersaulting, diving under our boat and swimming through our wake. Nearly 40 of them!
The last two days we have done chores at the Refuge Cove dock in Desolation Sound. Laundry, groceries, water, oil change, fuel, and ice – we are an ice-driven boat once again to save amperage. We hope the next two days will be the weather window that takes us back to Nanaimo, and then we can cruise the Gulf Islands for a few days on our way home. We will keep going, and blogging our travels.
The Rapids Are Behind Us
02 July 2016
After leaving Ganges on Salt Spring Island, Father’s Day morning, our choices were to either head up near Ruxton Island to be in position for early slack the next day through Dodd Narrows and on to Nanaimo, or head over to Montague Harbour, put a few more things together, and have a leisurely, sunny Father’s Day. So we did the latter; ice cream at the marina, a trip to the park and a walk through the campground, and a lovely night at anchor with less than 20 boats in the bay. We assembled the dingy, took a great ride around the bay, proving that we had put all the pieces aboard.
Arriving at Nanaimo on Monday, we planned on a Wednesday getaway to cross Strait of Georgia and then up Malaspina Strait. Our cruising friends were in Desolation Sound and we wanted to join them for a few days if we could. We. Could. Not. Leave. Nanaimo. The winds were blowing 15-25 NW in the day, and calming at night, but the sea state was not tame. Finally, on Friday morning, we headed out across a lumpy Strait that blew about 15-20 the whole way across. Notes on Nanaimo: huge swathes of vacant storefronts greeted us across the entire old town. Restaurant s that were lunch/dinner previously, were only dinner this year. Café Frances was one of those, and the Nanaimo Books and Charts has been gone for nearly 2 years – this was an extraordinary independent bookseller and will be missed. The Acme Food Company that has been a stop every year for us since 2003, is gone as well. The newly expanded mall down by the Gabriola Ferry landing is a factor, we are sure.
What has struck us most is that in the last weeks of June, there are no boats yet. As we moved up Malaspina Strait from Garden Bay on the Sunshine Coast, to Desolation Sound on Saturday the 25th, the lack of boats making the journey was profoundly noticeable. We had everything with us on Saturday – the wind, tide and sun were all dandy. And as we passed Lund, prior to turning into Desolation Sound proper, who should we hear on the radio but Take 5! Calling out at the rapids that we plan to pass later this week! We find our other friends Leanne and Comador Stewart on Glider in Grace Harbor, and plan to cruise with them for the next several days.
On Sunday, the 25th, we introduce the Stewarts to one of our favorite places, the Laughing Oyster Restaurant, and all celebrate a belated Fathers Day. We anchored at the head of Penrose Bay, a vee-shaped cove with an outdoor camp for kayakers at the head. This way we could take our dingys to the restaurant and the public dock. Next day we try for Isabel Cove, and one boat and his stern tie have taken up space for several boats, so we move over to Susan Islets which we have never managed to find empty, and it WAS! This was a new anchorage for us so we are totally over the moon. Glider needs ice, as do we, and they need propane and to eliminate garbage so we head for Squirrel Cove, and Glider detours to Refuge Cove and meets us later. We are still agog about the lack of boats; to prove it, we enter in the afternoon, and still are able to anchor right in front of the reversing tidal rapids into the lagoon. Leanne counted 18 boats in Squirrel Cove, where I have personally counted over 70 at the same time 3 years ago.
On Wednesday the 29th, we move to the other side of Cortes Island, to spend the night in Von Donop Inlet, and then we leave from there to go through the Rapids and continue our journey north. Glider will stay in and around Desolation Sound and the Sunshine Coast for several more weeks. As we come out of Lewis Channel and head south down the nose of Cortez, we see a blow, and then another! We did it, we saw whales just outside of the entrance to Von Donop!! OK, it was just one, but it was very large with no dorsal; I think humpback, but could have missed a minke whales’ smaller dorsal. We had a good look before he dived deep, and then negotiated the tricky entrance to the inlet. It’s been more than 10 years since we have been here and have Glider to thank that we diverted in this direction before going through the rapids and heading north. After a wonderful evening visit that ended a great 5 days cruising together, Ral and I set out on the last of June for the rapids.
And we got it nearly right, considering that it was a flood (the water floods SOUTH here, not North as it does between Everett and Desolation Sound), which meant the water was against us slowing us down, and we were going in essence widdershins against the changing current and slack. See, because we are headed north, and the tide was headed south, the rapids, of which there are three, changed furthest first, and closest last. So we had to hit the first one very early, the second one early and the third, Dent, on time. Except our slow boat made sure that we hit Dent about 20 minutes late. This is not incredibly dangerous, but it is a bit of a roller coaster ride, and could have been very bad if we had been off by an hour.
We spent that night anchored in Shoal Bay setting in some of the thickest kelp we have ever set the hook in. Next day it was on to Blind Channel Resort and Marina, where we have wifi for the first time since the 24th. And, Happy Canada Day! We arrive on July 1, Canada’s independence day which is celebrated with fireworks on the beach. About 20 boats were on the dock for the festivities. This was a working stop for us – fuel for the diesel, the outboard, laundry, water for the tanks, propane, REAL SHOWERS!! And groceries and a liquor agency. And, frankly, the most dense ice on the whole west coast as far as I am concerned. Coming in to a dock is a ‘work’ day. We stay one more day; the weather is changeable. We plan to make small progress on Sunday the 3rd, and a bit more on the 4th, then may have to wait out a weather blast.
Slowly, slowly we go. We have not seen a bear yet, but there was one on the beach before the fireworks began. We expect to see them off Johnstone Strait in a few days at Port Harvey. But we have already seen one whale.
Greetings from Ganges
18 June 2016
Greetings from Ganges, on Salt Spring Island!
We will be keeping this blog as we journey to, we hope, the Mid-Coast of British Columbia, with plans to return to our Bellingham home port at the end of September.
Our plans to leave as a small flotilla with our SYC boats Glider and Take Five for points north didn’t materialize as planned. We were plagued with small and large engine, battery and alternator issues since Memorial Weekend. This is why they call it a sail “plan”, not a sail “actual”. But we are underway, nonetheless! And we have determined to spend a couple more days on the way to Nanaimo to make this part of our journey north our “shakedown” cruise. We will hope to see our Squalicum YC friends in Desolation Sound in about a week, before continuing North on our own.
Our first night, Wednesday the 15th, was to be at Sucia, then the next day Bedwell to clear customs, then NORTH! But as we were leaving Bellingham Bay Raleigh checked the engine and found – diesel fuel where it did not belong, OUTSIDE the fuel line. A diversion to Inati Bay on Lummi was the change in the “plan” for Day 1. Complete repairs were made, a lovely afternoon was spent in the late spring sun communing with our boat, and a toast was made to our upcoming journey.
Day two began early, and as we passed Sucia at around 10, we looked at the water and kept going. I encourage everyone to not just dock and go at Bedwell, but to stay over. The Marine Provincial park is lovely, the signs of old shell middens are everywhere on the beach, and I love the name of the bay, Egeria Bay (ee-JEER-y-a). If you take the dingy to the head of the bay, to Medicine Beach, you can beach the dingy and take a short walk up the road to a little community store.
Friday the weather was still favorable, but we changed plans a bit to head to Ganges in the morning. This is the largest town in the Gulf Islands and is truly a water oriented community. We docked at the community dock below the Coast Guard station and at the end was the float plane station, which promised us great people and activity viewing. I am still a little rusty getting the blog back together so will post pictures soon of the many vessels we saw in this harbor.
A very instructive event happened in the evening: I was watching the sun set, and saw 5 Coast Guardsmen coming down the dock. I prepared to pay attention because something interesting was about to happen. Then they came up to ME! Are you Salish Mist out of Bellingham? Yes. We are holding traffic for you. You have been reported overdue. Well, Sir, I said, we docked at noon and have not had the radio on since. I see. Well when we heard the report, we looked out the window and saw your boat, so we thought we should check because it was certainly a coincidence to have another boat named Salish Mist docked in front of the Coast Guard Station. (You can’t make this up!) Since the Canadian Coast Guard have to file their reports as well, they used me as a training exercise and what I learned was that we are in pretty good shape as far as planning and prep. I share their followup questions with you for your own consideration. After some identification questions (names, ownership, hailing port, etc), they asked if we knew the caller (to prevent hoax); then asked if we had a sail plan (we did); and who had it (our daughter); and what kind of instructions did she have (that we would likely be in touch approximately every 10 days by either text or email – that email is more frequent up north than cell service). And did she have instructions on what to do if we were over due (Yes, she has two friends to call who are boaters and know the area we will be in to get advice before calling the Coast Guard Radio); does she know what to report (Yes, we wrote it all out: Salish Mist, a 34 sailing vessel, sloop rigged, white with blue trim and canvas, Rolland and Leora Province, owners aboard, and that she wishes to leave a message to have them call home as soon as possible, family is worried they are overdue). We were complimented on our approach, and asked what our plan was for the next several days. Montague Harbor Saturday night; Sunday to Nanaimo, and Monday in Nanaimo, and Tuesday or after, crossing to Pender Harbor, depending on the weather. Very good, I was told, we will contact the caller and let them know.
Once that was all over, I took a deep breath, blew out the adrenalin surge that arrived when the men approached the boat, and said a little thanks that we are blessed with friends who care about us so much. And went off to bed, thinking about “plans”.
Prepping the Boat for this Year's Journey
25 May 2016 | Squalicum Harbor, Bellingham Bay
Of all the silly things to do, one of the top silliest is to wait til Memorial Weekend for the shakedown before the four month cruise up the Inside Passage.
We have never been know for the best smarts. We are careful; we are prepared - electronics, paper charts, redundant features all round - but we don't always plan our time with enough specificity. We always get done with the punch list - but sometimes we finish a couple hours before we cast off the dock.
That will likely be the story this year. We found the rafting dogs (see our 2013 Cruising Blog), and have determined the shrimp trap will not do.
The Road Home
09 July 2013 | LaVerne's Burger Joint - a Pender Harbor Icon
On Saturday, June 29th, we asked if we could stay at the Blind Channel dock until the afternoon so that we could take advantage of the adverse tides and get into Nodales Channel to Thurston Bay. The fog was coming up off Johnstone Strait and we did not want to find it coming at us as we were feeling our way into an unknown anchorage. But, as time went by, WE became becalmed, and went up to the store to tell them we were staying another night. Good thing, because Raleigh caught a fish off the dock which we ate the next day – delish!!
By Sunday, we were convinced we should leave for the afternoon set of rapids, due once again to gale force incoming weather. But after looking at our watch, at 8:15, we decided to go for the early rapids, taking Dent at 11:16, Gillard at 11:46, and Yuculta at 11:55. “ Look to the left, Marlene – there is a tug (2 TUGS!!) and a big log boom that want to be your “shoot the rapids buddies”!!”, we say to ourselves. In two round trips (4 transits) this is the second time that a tug and his tow want to go through with us. We are always the lucky ones! By speeding up slightly, we get ahead of this train, and now the trick is not to slow down in front of him!! The rapids at Dent are not ever still, I think, but the transit through Gillard is always a treat – on a change to flood, the eagles are just covering the trees at the point where Gillard makes the 90 degree turn into Yuculta – I call it the eagle condo. This time there are adults, juveniles, some covering the tree branches, some diving into the water, more than 50 today. We continue to Squirrel Cove, which we love and consider safe haven – we have ridden out 40+ knot storm winds here. We have two favorite places, one at the head of the bay, in the next left cove from the reversing rapids, and second favorite, in front of the rickety float house with the rock islet at our back. No one is in the bight at the head of the bay, to the right of the charted rock – so we park there for the night.
Squirrel Cove is jointly managed by Desolation Sound Marine Park and the Sliammon Band, so there is no fishing, crabbing or shellfish gathering here. In the morning, with the winds still predicted for 25 and up, we take a little detour to Refuge Cove, for fuel, ice, water, and fresh provisions, and give Dave our garbage. Dave has upgraded his garbage barge, it looks pretty spiff, and he refuses to tell you how much to pay until he can pick it up to see how heavy it is. Ours is not heavy, but we have not been able to burn for about 6 days, so I really want it off the boat. Dave catches the bag and says 5 bucks. I said, too bad, and handed him a baggie that I had already put a 10 dollar bill in. Happy Canada Day, I say, and he grins and says, wow, thanks. And then off to Jack Bazhaw’s favorite place, Theodosia Inlet. This little cove and the inlet that opens out, has a very narrow, S-shaped entry with at least two (and I think 3) rocks in the fairway. And then the valley opens up and the view is really incredible. There is upcoast logging going on on the slope, with trucks bringing the logs to a log slide, into booms already in place, for the tugs to haul out. The rest is just peace and quiet – no other boats. But the wind is getting in here worse than we thought. What was a NW wind outside, is a SE wind in here.
We were stunned to see the pleasure boats in Squirrel Cove and Refuge Cove. WE have spent the last 8 weeks being a lone boat, with only work boats for company. In May it was tugs and barges, and May and June it was prawn and crab boats – Canada has not rationalized its catch yet, and so prawners had a 48 day season that ended June 21st to get their entire annual catch done. This depletes the resource beyond sustainability, and the fishermen know it, but they have to make their boat payments, buy school clothes and eat and pay for a roof like anyone else. They can’t rise up by themselves to demand a longer season with a measured catch. In talking to several prawners, the average license is about $800,000.00 dollars. Not making this up and asked twice to be sure I heard right. Met a prawner inside Drury Inlet named Nick, who had been raised in Drury, nice fellow, early thirties, who said he thought he was the youngest prawner with his own licence on the entire coast. He mourns that a good living is not going to the younger generation because everyone wants to be an internet startup guru without working for their money.
The wind kept spinning us around in Theodosia, and we wanted to go to the Laughing Oyster, an amazing restaurant that you can reach by water, or by road from Lund. So Tuesday we had a lovely late morning, then went to set our anchor in Penrose Bay, about a mile from the public dock in Okeover Arm. Waggoners says there is a dock below the restaurant so you can take the big boat and not the tender, but what there is is the public dock, which charges a 10 ft dingy, 2.50 for up to 4 hours, and a 34 foot boat about 24 dollars overnight or about 11 dollars for 4 hours. We have been twice and pay the dingy fee, and have a very quiet and private anchorage in Penrose Bay. (In the very south sound, there is a point named for Penrose that I grew up less than a mile from, and there is a WA State Park called Penrose Pt. State Park that was my childhood back yard. I actually had a summer job there one year as a park aide.) Dinner at the Laughing Oyster is an almost 3 hour love affair with food, view, and view, and food.
The weather is promising that gale winds are going to come in with the Northwesterly and sit for days, so we set the alarm Wednesday the 3rd, and head out for Pender Harbor. We are anchored in Garden Bay after a totally lumpy ride by 2 pm, and feel like this is our second safe haven. When traveling with friends to Desolation Sound in 2005, we sat out a pretty good storm here for a couple of days. When Ral and I were traveling to Princess Louisa one year, we sat out 40-50 knot winds for 36 hours once in Garden Bay. But this means that we missed a chance to hook down in Roscoe Bay, or to try Sturt Bay on Texada, which has been on the must do list for a few years now. The weather is now HOT, and we appreciate every breeze, but it has gone from downright wet and cold to HOT without a transition, and the winds are keeping us from some of the places we were hoping to see. In fact, they are keeping us locked inside Pender Harbor. The good news is that we are 3 long days from home locked in, not locked in in Desolation Sound, which could be as much as 6 days from home.
We continue to find new things to do in Pender Harbor. The Thrift Shop on the esplanade (the path to the shopping center), yielded a new top and a working citrus juicer – total: $7 bucks. The Oak Tree Market is the best meat market in BC (we think) and they have started to freeze portions for boaters like us who buy in the morning, and ask them to put our purchase in their deep freeze, and we pick it up at closing so that we can get a 5 or 6 am departure from the Harbor. We walked to Garden Lake for the first time – most of the kids and teens swim there. It is the drinking water source for half of Pender Harbor so there are no motorized craft allowed. We get a bacon Cheeseburger at the little burger wagon in the park across from the shopping center. We get the same meal for 18.95 that we paid 48 dollars for at the Garden Bay pub. We vow to only frequent the Bang Badda Bing (Triple B) Burgers from now on – you really can’t make this up. I get stung waiting for the burgers; and the epi pen is on the boat. The pharmacist comes out to check us and to see if the Benadryl is working or if we have to buy a pen. He declares that I appear to have beat the demon this time with the Benadryl. We take our annual pilgrimage to LaVerne’s – the burger joint on the Garden Bay side on the road to John Henry’s Marina, and the only decent milkshakes in Pender Harbor. Full disclosure: Our first voyage in Salish Mist in 2003 to and through Skookumchuck Rapids nearly ended because of a broken Head, and no repair closer than home because we couldn’t afford it. We walked all of Pender Harbor looking for a bucket with a lid; hardware store – no; diaper pail – no; small kitchen garbage pail – no; marine store – no; then we went to LaVerne’s to have a soda and use the, you know, and asked if she had a pail with a lid – YES!!! Three gallon food grade plastic bucket with lid that had held mayo for her burger stand. On the top of the lid was the cursive note: Deliver to LaVerne. Six days later, we were home, and still married. Two years ago we finally told LaVerne the story – she laughed til she cried. Boaters may have heads on their boats, but Salish Mist’s was renamed the LaVerne years ago.
Sunday morning we try to get out of Pender Harbor, and as we are readying to pull the anchor and set a reef in the main, we see a black bear wandering down the hill foraging, and then watch him go back up again. He looks like he is ambling, but we realize how quick he is! He looks like a young black bear, but doesn't look scrawny like the ones we saw in May, just after they came out of their dens. The seas are still very lumpy from the strong NW winds of the past few days. We decide to go into Secret Cove, where we have never been, and anchor well into the head of the north arm, past the Secret Cove Marina to the east of us. (Passing observation: Most of the bays and coves in BC that we have entered have at least one rock in the entrance. Many of the bays and coves are not expansive, and are downright narrow.) There are only a few boats anchored, and Secret Cove is stacked with marinas for permanent moorage. We saw a huge work boat livaboard from Prince Rupert named Curve of Time come in and get scolded off from anchoring in the bay – they took their 70¬+ feet and left – and we vowed to give no business to Secret Cove Marina.
This morning we Sailed across the Strait of Georgia – the whole way. We had no choice – the seas were easily 5-6 feet ON OUR BEAM with more “O SH—T!'s" than we care to remember! It only took 3 hours from Welcome Pass and we will probably never be able to sail all the way across again – most of us make it halfway before the wind dies. We didn’t have that problem today – rather the opposite. We managed to get to the Nanaimo docks by 10:30, and realized there was no medicinal alcohol on board. THAT nearly finished us off! We found some folks with Tolly’s on the dock who know mutual friends in Wheel and Keel in Bellingham. They have been here 4 days, and so have most of the folks who are trying to go north – they say they go out early in the morning, and then come back. Marks Bay, across from Nanaimo, at Newcastle Island, has put in mooring buoys and prohibited anchoring. In the great spirit of the Canadian Northwest, when we went over there to have time to get the lines and fenders set for docking at the Port of Nanaimo, we saw oodles of empty mooring balls (12 bucks), and lots and lots of anchored boats. The constitution of Canada, I am told, spefically mentions a commerce right that the courts have determined to mean that Canadians have the right to navigate; the courts have held that the right to navigate includes the right to choose to stop navigating; i.e., put down the anchor. This right was much discussed in BC boating journals a few years back when leglislation almost passed to charge boaters to ANCHOR in BC marine parks.
There is a marvelous independent bookseller at #8 Church Street, Nanaimo Maps and Charts, that is a must stop (and we do!), and Hill’s Gallery across from the marina, crossing Front Street at the Bastion, has high quality and excellent affordable Coast Salish art. Our new favorite Café is just down from the bookstore, Café Frances, and we still like the Acme Food Company – we have watched it go from steaks to pizza and pasta to sushi, but the food is always good. We have always rushed to get the chores done and get out of Nanaimo, even though we love the town, but since we can still play until Saturday on our voyage, we are going to follow the rules, try out the moorings in Marks Bay, and spend the afternoon on Newcastle Island – we have never actually landed on it - and check out the sights. Hoping to get to Port Browning and Friday Harbor before coming home, but, we have tried to plan this whole trip without much success.
I decided that while the weather is so hot, this is the time to trot out two of our favorite boat soup recipes, which really became comfort food during the early part of our journey. And scroll down after this blog entry for some stand alone pictures.
Cooking and Provisioning
Boat Soup – Chicken: Lori’s Version
1 can red kidney beans
1 can pinto beans
1 12 oz can of chicken breast ( or turkey)
½ large sweet onion chopped (walla walla or texas sweet are best; vidalia is ok)
1 celery heart chopped (inner short ribs with their leaves)
1 can chicken broth plus 1 can of water (15 oz)
2 good shakes soul seasoning (or something spicy)
3 good shakes of garlic powder
Vigorous grinds of good peppercorns
1 T olive oil
Put olive oil in small sauté pan, and put chopped onions and celery in. Saute on medium high until wilted and yellow and clear. Put into 4 qt kettle. Add all beans, partly drained, and chicken broth and water and can of chicken (half drained). Add all parsley and celery leaves and all seasoning. Bring to a boil with the lid on, then simmer for 20 minutes. While simmering, butter two large slices of good bread, sprinkle with garlic powder or minced garlic, and put under broiler in oven. If you don’t have an oven, you can put the bread in a frying pan, butter side down, with the garlic powder on, and cook, turning to toast the bottom side (this is how we make our toast on Salish Mist; I used to use a Coleman camping toaster ring, but realized that the frying pan did the job faster and better). This will serve lunch to two hungry people and the leftovers can be used as breakfast on a very early cruising morning.
How we Roll on early Departure days:
Raleigh is someone who NEEDS to have food on his stomach first thing in the morning, while I frequently (nearly always) skip breakfast. When the girls were young, we always ate a big cooked breakfast while camping. Now, boating, every morning is a good old-fashioned breakfast to start every day (sometimes we even use lo-cal substitutes). So a 4:30 or 5 am alarm clock with a 5 am departure puts a big crimp in our plans. For those very early departures, I make coffee and hot water for cocoa the night before and store them in two thermoses we keep separate for that purpose. After we have been underway for around two hours, we look at the sea conditions. If it is calm, I will make our boat version of a fried egg sandwich (with English muffin, ham or bacon, cheese and fried egg). If it is rocking and rolling, I will use one small kettle with a lid and one burner to make Top Ramen. Add a finely sliced green onion to the bowl. Pour the soup over a small grating of ginger root to make real flavor. (or reheat Boat Soup – see above and below.) The point is to make something hot that has to be chewed. Ral eats while I take the wheel to give him a break, and then I eat, while he takes the wheel back. It really feels like you had a bit of a meal, and something hot went into your stomach. Then when we anchor at noon or one, I am as likely to make breakfast for lunch (Denver omelets and hash browns, French toast and sausage and egg, pancakes and eggs, something really substantial to make us believe we have made up for the light breakfast.) (Because neither one of us looks like we have missed a meal lately.)
Ice: There are now two great places for Ice on the BC coast – John Henry’s in Pender Harbor (they make their own) and Blind Channel Resort beyond Desolation (not quite so large but equally dense).
Boat Soup – Cabbage (with a nod to James Barber, RIP): Lori’s Version
1 small cabbage (not tiny, just smallish)
1 whole sweet onion, chopped
About ½ to ¾ of a pound of garlic coil sausage (Canadian), can substitute Kielbasa
1 good large apple (Fiji, Honeycrisp, Braeburn) sliced thinly around the core with the skin on
½ can beer (you can use apple juice or water or chicken stock, but the beer is on the boat anyway)
Whatever seasonings you like – pepper, bay leaf, savory, or something spicy
2 – 3 T good olive oil.
Cut the cabbage into quarters, and remove any core. Slice each quarter thinly lengthwise, making 4 or 5 narrow slices out of each quarter. Place oil in heavy 4 or 6 quart pan with a good lid (mine is an old Silverstone kettle that started in the campground and followed to the boat). Add cabbage, onion and apple slices and seasonings and stir to coat as much as possible. Stir frequently to keep from burning. When cabbage starts to wilt, add the beer and put on the lid. Turn heat down to low and cook for at least 30 minutes. Now take the sausage, cut into at least ¼ inch slices (1/3 is better), and add to the cabbage. (I cut the slices in half so there are half-rounds.) If the liquid has boiled out, add ½ cup of water. Reduce heat to simmer for another 30 minutes. Great with good thick crusted bread. Soup is as good or better the next day.
Feeds 2 hungry cruisers and there’s a small bowl each for lunch the next day with grilled cheese sandwiches.