Snug Harbour, Bowen Island
Skiing in Whistler has gone off with a winter thaw, giving me time to complete the blog of last fall's adventures. I have also updated the photo gallery with pictures from the fall.
12 October, 2017 Pirates Cove
Pulling out of our berth at the Vancouver Rowing Club in Stanley Park, we motored out into the busy Vancouver harbour and out past the Lion's Gate Bridge, where we rounded up and hoisted our sails to begin a late summer cruise.
Weaving between the anchord ships waiting for a berth in Canada's busiest harbour, we bore off passing Point Grey and heading across the Strait of Georgia, an 18 nm run to Gabriola Passage and into the protected waters of the Gulf Islands. Again, we just headed for Pirates Cove where we anchored for the night with just one other boat to keep us company. After a hike around the provincial park ashore, we were back aboard for a quiet night at anchor.
13 October 2017 Winter Cove
Off early, we were met in Pylades Channel with a nice following breeze, taking us south through the islands. In the light breeze we slowly worked our way south between the islands, and by mid-afternoon were dropping the anchor in Winter Cove off Saturna Island. Again we shared another beautiful anchorage with just one other boat. Ashore at the dinghy dock, we walked through the grounds of yet another part of the Gulf Islands National Marine Park.
Boat Inlet, Saturna Island
14 October 2017 Stuart Island
Our plan for the day included only a 10 nm run, so we were in no hurry to be off. After a lazy start to the day, we headed out in mid-morning, passing Teece Point on South Pender Island, taking us out into the strong currents and busy waters of Boundary Pass. Because all marine traffic headed in to southern BC waters and Puget Sound, it is a busy stretch. So we kept a close watch of the traffic, contacting only one large incoming freighter to confirm our passing.
Safely across and in to US waters, we phoned US customs and with our pre-clearance, were allowed to carry on without landing at a customs dock. That meant we could head straight to our objective, nearby Stuart Island.
Approaching Prevost Harbor, we furled the sails and motored in. Much of Stuart Island is a state park complete with a dock that can accommodate boats up to 75'. Although there was space for us, we elected to pick up a mooring for the night. Ashore, we chatted with a 38' sailboat moored at the dock. They had just left nearby Anacortes headed for Hawaii, delivering the boat for a friend who had recently bought it. But apparently they hadn't done enough to check the systems, as they found some serious problems requiring returning to Anacortes. Problems included such essentials as the navigation system and the head... both extremely important items on a long ocean passage!
In the morning we headed ashore for a hike. Last time we were here, we wanted to hike to Turn Point, but found we had landed at the wrong dock. We enjoyed the walk, but today headed for the dock that would take us to the Turn Point, a hike of 3 km each way.
Ashore we stopped to chat with a couple working on a motorcycle. They confirmed we were today on the proper path and warned us to watch for a bow hunter who was hunting deer near the light house. So we made sure we made lots of noise!! They also told us not to miss the outhouse at Turn Point, a curious comment, we thought. About 3/4 of the way to our objective, we did meet the hunter who had packed up his gear and was heading home after an unsuccessful day.
Lightkeeper's House, Turn Point
Light Building, Turn Point
Reaching Turn Point, we wandered around the grounds of the former keeper's house and out-buildings, all still well maintained as a national historic site. And we inspected the most elegant outhouse we have ever seen!!
Turn Point Outhouse
15 October 2017 Jones Island/Blind Bay
After a quiet night, we dropped the mooring and cast off. In the light air, we motored to Jones Island, another 10 mile jaunt. Jones Island ia another state park, about 0.5 miles in diameter. The only landing is in a small cove on the north end, too deep for anchoring. So we carefully picked up a mooring very close to shore. Although the water was still deep, we were uncomfortably close to shore. In the calm morning we decided to head for shore for a walk. But wide open to the north, it was, for us, a day stop only. For a mid-October day, it was surprisingly busy with both boaters and campers, a crowded island.
Jones Island Deer
It was time to think about an anchorage for the night, and Blind Bay on nearby Shaw Island just 6 nm away won out. So after lunch, we dropped the mooring and headed down Spring Passage between Jones and Orca Island. Running in Deer Harbor we pulled into the fuel dock of the Deer Harbor Resort where we found the only marine self-serve fuel dock we have seen. Topped off, we toured the resort, bought a few supplies and were off again. Through Port Pass we motored into West Bay, finding little of interest for the cruising sailor. Back out into Harney Channel and into Blind Bay, we began to think about our options for the next few days.
October 16-18 Ganges Harbour, Saltspring Island
With a forecast for three days of heavy rain and north winds, we decided it was time to find somewhere where we would be able to entertain ourselves a shore. After discussion and mulling over the charts, we decided it was time to head back north to Ganges Harbour Marina where we had not only a free berth at the Vancouver Rowing Club dock, but also a nice town for diversion.
So we headed out and retraced our path northward back into the Gulf Islands. Across Haro Strait we phoned Canada Customs and were cleared in again with no fuss. In Ganges Harbour we tied up at the VRC dock next to only one other cruiser, also there to wait out the weather.
Jeannie's birthday dinner, Alaska King Crab & Tenderloin
Saltspring Island Farmer's Market, Ganges
October 19-20 Pirates Cove/Vancouver Rowing Club
Ganges is an attractive town, but three days is more than adequate for exploring it. We were eager to be off when the weather improved. But with a forecast for just two nice days before the next system approached, we decided to head back to Vancouver to wait it out. With the need for timing the currents in the passes, the distance from Ganges to Vancouver is just too far for one day. So we cast off our lines in Ganges and headed back with an overnight stop in Pirates Cove. Another beautiful sail across the Strait of Georgi and we were tying our lines in our VRC berth in late afternoon.
24-26 October Bowen Island
With a forecast for nice weather we decided on one last cruise before preparing Estelle for winter. From our berth at VRC to Snug Cove on Bowen Island, where VRC has another outstation, is just 12 nm. In light airs, we just motored out of Vancouver Harbour and across to Snug Cove under warm sunshine and light winds. Arriving in Snug Cove, we tied up at the VRC dock and spent two nice days enjoying the unique culture of this beautiful island.
Ferry Arrival, Bowen Island
VRC Outstation dock, Bowen Island
After two days of wandering the town and the many hiking trails it was time to cast off. Here we found ourselves struggling to get the engine to start. After much coaxing, it was finally running. Plans were for a few more days cruising, but with a questionable engine, we decided to return to VRC and sort out the problem.
Back in our berth, I quickly discovered two wires that had obviously been severly overheated. Repairing the damage, the engine started quickly. But unsure of why they had overheated, we were reluctant to head out. Tracking down the reason will have to wait.
8 February 2018
I have still not traced the engine problem out. But I have been working on it. I have bought a meter to allow me to check the current flowing in the wires (both are ground wires), been studying the wiring diagram, and discussed it with a few people. No answer yet, but I have some ideas to check when we re-commission Estelle in early March. I ran into a technicial from Philbrooks Boatyard at the Vancouver Boat Show who had done some work on our watermaker last spring. He gave me some ideas to pursue. One particularly un-helpful comment came from the Westerbeke representative. I pointed out the wires on a similar engine on display. He had no idea where the wires ran or what they were for, and just dismissed the problem as reverse polarity when the batteries were connected! He then advised me to remove all the engine wiring and trace it out... a brutal project in the confines of the engine room, probably at least a week's work. Thanks for the help.