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.