The Voyage of S/V Estelle

Cruising the British Columbia Coast

27 September 2020
26 September 2020
26 September 2020 | The Broughtons
26 September 2020 | Vancouver Rowing Club
07 February 2020
03 February 2020 | Northern Georgia Strait
30 September 2018 | Vancouver Rowing Club
10 September 2018 | The Laughing Oyster, Okeover Landing
08 September 2018 | Von Donop Inlet, Desolation Sound
08 September 2018 | Port McNeill, BC
08 September 2018 | Port McNeill, BC
16 August 2018
16 August 2018 | Turnbull Cove, BC
15 August 2018 | Pierre's Echo Bay Resort
15 August 2018 | Kwatsi Bay Marina, The Broughtons
15 August 2018 | Potts Lagoon, West Cracroft Island, BC
05 August 2018 | Kwatsi Bay
01 August 2018 | Big Bay
01 August 2018 | Von Donop Inlet
27 July 2018 | Lancelot Inlet, Desolation Sound Marine Park

Cruising 2020, Epilogue

27 September 2020
James Lea
August 15th - 26th
If this is your view off your bow, you know you are not having a good day.
From Port Harvey, we ran down Johnstone Strait in calm winds and a flooding current. But it wasn't until we entered Race Passage that we felt the effects where our speed picked up to over ten knots. Through Race Passage, we headed up Mayne Passage and took a berth at the Blind Channel Resort.
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Blind Channel Patio

We re-stocked from their store, mainly ice for our still non-functioning refrigerator. Then, after a hike on their excellent trails, the main event... Dinner. Blind Channel Resort in well known for its restaurant and we were not disappointed.
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Dinner at Blind Channel

Plans for the following day were to head for Small Inlet in Kanish Bay. But just as we were turning in, we passed through a small tide line with some small sticks and seaweed as the propeller began to make a pounding sound, and shuddering. We had obviously picked up something. After a few failed attempts to free it, we resigned ourselves to a tow. We called the boatyard at Campbell River who gave us the number for Rob Sumner at CR Marine Assist in Campbell River, 15 miles away. Within an hour we were underway and by late afternoon found ourselves back in Discovery Harbour Marina for another unplanned visit. In the evening I located a diver and next day we were off again at noon, no permanent damage, except to my wallet!
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Ready to dive
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Propeller Freed!
From Campbell River, we enjoyed a beautiful sail up to Von Donop, then through Hole in the Wall to Waiatt Bay.
Here we met Howard and Lynn Bradbrooke. In the morning we hiked up to Newton Lake, a vigorous hike, for some swimming, well Howard and Jeannie. Lynn and I just watched.
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Hiking up to Newton Lake

And after two nights, back to Squirrel Cove to wait out some bad weather, and south. A spinnaker run to Texeda Island Boat Club, a favorite stop, and another the next day to Pender and dinner at the Painted Boat Restaurant to celebrate a great cruise. Next evening we were back in our slip at the Vancouver Rowing Club, cruise over.
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The Broughtons

26 September 2020
James Lea
Lacey Falls, Tribune Channel

July 30th - August 14th Cruising The Broughtons
Our route up Havannah Channel led into Chatham Channel. I had forgotten how strong the currents in the channel could be, and we entered facing a 4 knot flooding current. It seems strange to me that Chatham Channel floods S-E, but it does. So it was a slow trip through the narrows keeping the range markers aligned in the narrow channel. Out into Knight Inlet, we turned north-east and motored up into Tsakonu Cove. With only a few crab pots to keep us company, we edged up to the head of the bay. Although it is reported to shoal rapidly at the head, we were anchor in 25' at low with lots of swinging room if the wind pushed us further in. Jeannie set off on her paddleboard while I annoyed the Pink Salmon feeding on the profusion of bait fish. But I did no harm to the salmon stocks. We landed in the dinghy on the shore, but the dense woods were too much to try to work our way through, so we just stumbled over the rocks for a while. There is one old log dump that might provide better walking, but its landing looked too rough.
Next morning we motored down Knight Inlet to explore the profusion of islands at its mouth. This area is the designated Broughton Archipelago Marine Park. Past Village Island, we turned into Eliot Passage, passing the Village Island anchorage. This is the location of the landing to visit the abandoned Mamalliculla village. Although we later learned that landing was permitted, we weren't certain, so carried on past. Down into the Mound anchorage where we met our first fellow cruisers. In a large anchorage capable of holding a dozen boats, we anchored, sheltered from the rising north-west wind. Although Mound Island is reported to have trails, we couldn't find any. But with the open forest, we had excellent walking. The small campsite for kayaks was empty, as was the small shell beach.
Next morning we had another unsuccessful search for the elusive trail, and hoisted anchor just after lunch.
Up past Village Island, across Knight Inlet and through Spring Passage, we slowly edged our way into the "Seabreeze Anchorage". The anchorage is not actually in Seabreeze, but inside two unnamed islands to the east of Seabreeze. With room for only one or two boats, we dropped anchor in 20' and excellent holding in mud.
This was our first time in the area, so we launched the dinghy and set out exploring. Health Bay seemed a bit open for our liking, but in Health Lagoon we found significantly more water than the charts indicate, an excellent anchorage. Back at the boat, Jeannie got the paddle board out while I attended a few jobs. One was to replace the controller on the refrigeration as it had stopped again. Job done, no luck. So the search for ice would require serious planning. Obviously the compressor had failed.
Next morning we headed out towards Lagoon Cove Marina where we had a reservation for two nights. One reason was ice! Also, its a nice stop, although their famous happy hour of prawns on the deck was a Covid casualty. Retracing our route from yesterday, we crossed Knight Inlet and ran down through the well-named Beware Passage. Although open for most of its four miles, the southern end requires some very sharp "visual piloting". Safely through, we anchored for lunch in Potts Lagoon where we found three other cruisers. Then an afternoon sail up Clio Channel to Lagoon Cove. Although not empty, it was far from full. Speaking with the owners, they said that business was well down, but they had only been "shut out" a couple of nights.
After two nights and ice replenished, we were off again after another walk ashore. Across Knight Inlet, we entered the spectacular scenery of Tribune Channel. With its towering cliffs plunging straight down 1000' into the water, we just admired the beauty as we motored north. In late afternoon we motored in to Wahkana Bay, a well protected circular bay about a half mile in diameter. Although just over 100' deep in most parts, we found a 45 foot spot in the south east corner with good holding. We shared this anchorage with one other boat and three kayaks, just setting up as we took the dinghy over to the mouth of a stream with a short trail to stretch our legs.
Next morning we headed across the inlet and tied up at the floats of the Kwatsi Bay Marina. With the help of Anca Fraser, owner, we were tied up, the only boat on the dock. Settled in, we took the dinghy across the bay and hiked up to a nearby waterfall.
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Kwatsi Bay Falls

Then a tour of the bay and it was Happy Hour. We spent a very pleasant evening sitting talking with Anca and her husband, Max Knierim. This summer their business was down by 80% due to the Covid restrictions. They started the marina 25 years ago, spending every summer there. It is now for sale. We can only hope that the new owners will maintain it in its pristine wilderness.
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Max and Anca

Although our ice would last a few more days, there wasn't much else in the refrigerator, so it was time to head to Port McNeill to re-supply. So we cast off heading down Tribune Channel, Hornet Passage and into Cramer Pass. Passing empty docks at Pierre's Echo Bay Resort, normally full and busy, we were reminded again what a different summer it is.
We were headed back to the Mound Island anchorage, arriving to an empty anchorage just as the heavens open up on us. But after a soggy anchoring, we settled in as the sun returned. Next morning we headed out Whitebeach Passage into Blackfish Sound. We had checked the current tables and planned to enjoy a nice lift from the ebbing current. But as we headed into Cormorant Channel at the eastern tip of Malcomb Island, we found ourselves in some excellent tide rips, pushing us in every direction. But in light airs, we slogged through, safely tying up at North Island Marina at noon.
Port McNeill is an excellent place to re-supply. Grocery store and BC Liquor Store are just 10 minutes from the marina, and the grocery store allows you to use their carts to carry your supplies back to the marina. And the marina can re-fuel you from any slip... very convenient!
From Port McNeill we enjoyed a beautiful sail back across Queen Charlotte Sound into Fyfe Sound, Raleigh Passage and into Laura Cove for the night. This is a small anchorage, one of the most popular anchorages in the Broughtons. But we found just two other boats moored, and settled in out of the freshening breeze.
Next morning we were off to Turnbull Cove, a favorite anchorage in the north-west corner of the Broughtons. Just outside the entrance we dropped our prawn trap again. Although we had no luck to that point, we decided to try one last time. Inside the cove there were two other boats anchored. In a normal season we would expect to see twenty or more boats here. But its a half mile in diameter with excellent anchoring depths and holding, so it is rarely a problem to find room to anchor.
Today, no problem! We dropped the anchor for a three night stay. Ashore, we took the short but steep hike up to Huaskin Lake for some warm fresh water swimming. We met the family off one of the anchored boats and began chatting. We soon learned we had friends in common. They had met Cabot and Heidi Lyman (who live in Maine) in French Polynesia while they were cruising. We met them in Roatan when cruising the Caribbean!
Next morning we checked our prawn traps...Success! That evening Kevin and Joanne joined us again, with another fresh Chinook, so we feasted on fresh seafood that night.
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Kevin has the appies ready for Happy Hour

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Fresh Chinook Salmon for dinner!

The following day, we ran through Kenneth Passage into MacKenzie Sound and down to check out the very elegant Nimmo Bay Resort. Luckily they weren't serving dinner to cruisers this year. Lucky because the prices are as spectacular as the setting.
After another dinner of prawns in a garlic cream sauce, we were ready to begin our trip back south. We retraced our steps past Laura Cove and into Simoon Sound for the night. In the morning as we left, we met a bear swimming across the entrance, a good mile of open water.
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We have no idea what possessed him to do it, but he was just calmly swimming.
We were headed for Kwatsi Bay where we were surprised to find a full dock, just room for us, but no Max and Anca. It turned out that Max had fallen the day before and injured his wrist, requiring a trip to Port McNeill. We sent Anca a photo of their full dock, their best night of the season.
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We left Kwatsi Bay next morning, not before pulling up another full prawn trap. A short run up Bond Sound where we anchored just yards from shore, and explored the Ahta River. It is reported to be one of the few remaining watersheds of old growth timber and an important salmon breeding ground.
Because of our tenuous anchorage, we only spent a few hours here. Then back through Chatham Havannah Channel to Port Harvey where we anchored for the night.

Summer Cruising 2020 Part 2

26 September 2020 | The Broughtons
James Lea
Sunset in Lagoon Cove

July 27th - July 29th The Back Route
It was time to go. The forecast for Johnstone Strait was for light south-westerlies for three days. And we had been checking conditions at Fanny Island for the last few days, seeing light morning winds, so conditions looked good.
From Von Donop to the Yucultas is 16 miles. With slack at 11:05, we set out up Calm Channel motoring in a warm sunny morning. No matter how many times I check the current tables, I always feel a sense of relief when I see other boats heading in the same direction. By the time we reached the beginning of the rapids, we were third in a line of six boats travelling north.
Through the Yucultas and Big Bay entering Gillard Passage, we could sense the beginning of the ebb. From Gillard Passage to Dent Rapids is just 2 miles. However, slack at Dent is 30 minutes earlier than Gillard, so as we passed through Dent, we could feel the current building. But all was well as we were swept into Cordero Passage, with the strongest rapids behind us.
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Sealions in Gillard Passage
Today we were headed for Chameleon Harbour in Nodales Channel. Heading down the channel, we decided to look into Hemming Bay on the east shore of East Thurlow Island. We were interested in hiking up to Hemming Lake, however the profusion of "No Trespassing" signs discouraged us.
Inside Chameleon Harbour, we looked into Handfield Bay. It can accommodate two or three boats in excellent protection. But we decided to anchor just outside, setting the anchor in the lee of Bruce Point in 25' and excellent holding in mud. A short walk around tiny Tully Island, and it was time for dinner.
Next morning we were off to a late start, retrieving an empty prawn trap as we headed back up Nodales Channel to Cordero Channel,. Passing through Green Point Rapids two hours after slack, we were swept through with a 2.5 knot current boosting us. By the time we turned up Wellbore Channel into the Whirlpool Rapids, we were just at the end of the ebb, with less than 2 knots pushing us north towards Farewell Harbour.
In Farewell Harbour we found two other boats already at anchor. By days end our fleet had swelled to seven. Taking the dinghy ashore, we found a trail across to Beesborough Bay, looking down into Johnstone Strait nine miles to the west.
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Beesborough Bay Beach
In the evening I hoisted a crab trap full of undersized crabs, all tossed back.
One last check of the weather, and we were in bed early. Next morning, we had the anchor up at seven and underway down Sunderland Channel, passing tiny Fanny Island as we ran out into the glass calm of Johnstone Strait. Just before noon, we turned in to Havannah Channel, passing Port Harvey and the former Port Harvey Marine Resort. Although the marina is closed, boaters are welcome to tie up.

Summer Cruise 2020 Part 1

26 September 2020 | Vancouver Rowing Club
James Lea | Sunny, 17C
Sunset in Prideaux Haven

July 10th to 25th Desolation Sound
We left our berth at the Rowing Club at 1000 hrs, catching the outgoing current to sweep us out the harbour northward. In English Bay, we found a bumpy ride as the light north-west breeze fought the outgoing current. But our plan for the day was just a short 20 miles to Plumper Cove, where we picked up a mooring and settled in. In the warm sun, we took the dinghy ashore and hiked the park trails.
Next morning we were off north again, destination Pender Harbour. In mid-afternoon, we were anchoring in Gerrands Bay, a first for us. With our outstation dock full, we decided to explore this area. Although we have been in Pender Harbour many times, we had never looked into this small protected bay. Circled with docks, and a few anchored boats who had obviously seen better days, we were one of only two cruisers. We thoroughly explored the area by dinghy, including a short walk to the shore-side trails of Francis Point Provincial Park.
After a leisurely start to the morning we took the dinghy over to the public dock at Madiera Park and topped up our grocery supplies. Back aboard, we got underway over to John Henry Marina to top up fuel and propane. Well stocked, we motored out into Malispina strait in early afternoon into more light northerly winds. No sailing today. Our destination, Ballet Bay, was just 12 miles away. Entering, we found the anchorage nearly empty. In a "normal" mid-summer, this anchorage can easily have 20 boats in it. But today, we found only two other boats. We had read about a trail ashore leading to Hidden Basin, so set out to try to find it. Although not well marked and obviously not well used, we did work our way through to a recently graded road. Not sure which way to go, and concerned about trespassing on private property, we wandered for a while, then decided to retreat and do more research.
Next morning we headed north again, and again in light northerlies. Late in the afternoon, we motored into Tenedos Bay only to find it too crowded for our liking. With the closed border, we expected to find much more room, so headed out again. Heading for Prideaux Haven, we rounded Otter Island and peered in at the tiny anchorage between it and the mainland. We found excellent anchoring depths, but after repeated anchoring attempts resulted in kelp balls on the anchor, we gave up and headed on. Again to our surprise, Prideaux Haven was far from empty, but there was room for us to anchor comfortably for the night.
Next day we headed for Roscoe Bay, but not before carefully checking the tides to be sure we had sufficient water to get across the bar, which shows 2' at a zero tide. Safely in, stern tie secured, we waited for the arrival of our Whistler neighbours, Kevin and Joanne in their Osprey, Ocean Fog.
Next morning we all set off for a day of fishing, returning in the evening with a beautiful Chinook for dinner.
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Joanne preparing dinner!

From Roscoe Bay, we headed across to Squirrel Cove where we stayed for three nights, hiking and fishing. But we were also heading ashore daily for ice as our refrigeration had died. That required some impressive cooking, as all our frozen food had melted. So we had plenty of lunches prepared!
After a few failed attempts to diagnose the problem, we decided to head to Campbell River for some professional help. This was our first trip to Campbell River, and we were impressed. Securely tied up in the Discovery Harbour Marina, we arranged for a refrigeration mechanic.
Ashore we found a very impressive waterfront development with everything the cruising sailor could need... groceries, wine/beer, restaurants all within a 3 minute walk from the marina. And also a boatyard with a 60 ton travelift!
After a couple of hours poking and sniffing, the technician decided that the controller was faulty, causing the compressor to shut down. I had a spare that I was ready to install when it came to life, so decided not to tempt fate, and off we went, enjoying an excellent sail in 15 knots of wind back to Cortes Bay.
Fully stocked, we were looking at the currents in Cordero Channel. So next morning we headed north to Von Donop inlet to stage for our run through the rapids.

Summer 2019 Cruise Part 2

07 February 2020
James Lea
July 20-26

After Kevin freed our prop, we headed for shore. We spent the balance of the day and the next morning re-stocking and preparing for our visitors. Our grandsons Ben and Ethan were arriving for a week cruising with us. With their appetites, that meant lots of food, so that the cupboards and refrigerator were all full by the time they arrived in mid-afternoon.
Plans for the week were to head slowly from Pender Harbour across to Nanaimo and down through the Gulf Islands and meet their parents in Sidney.
After dinner, we were invited ashore by Evie and Rolly's neighbors for a campfire and marshmallow roast, a great start to the cruise.
In the morning we headed out of Gunboat Bay, through Pender Harbour and across Malispina Strait to Jedediah Island. Just a 16 mile trip, we rounded the southern tip of Texeda Island up Bull Passage and into Boho Bay where we anchored for the night. We chose Boho Bay for its shelter from the forecast north-west winds. By evening we had been joined with just six other boats in a large anchorage, lots of room for all. Anchored in 60' of water, we were glad of our chain counter, allowing us to be certain that we had he proper scope out. After some instruction, Ben and Ethan were handling anchoring duties. Arriving in early afternoon, we launched the dinghy and headed for Sunset Cove on Jedediah Island. Ashore we walked the paths looking for the wild sheep, left from the last permanent residents of the island. We saw lots of signs of sheep, but they kept out of sight as we crossed the island.Our only sightings were some bleached bones of a long gone resident.
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Back in the dinghy, Ethan took over the controls and took us back across Bull Passage to Boho Bay.
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There was talk of swimming, but only Ben managed to get wet, and just barely.
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Next plan was put out the crab trap for the night using the head of Joanne's Chinook from the previous week (kept in the freezer).
Next morning we hauled a trap full of rock crab. But they were all too small to keep, so with great care to avoid the snapping claws, we dropped them over the side.
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Anchor up, we headed down Bull Passage and around the south-west tip of Lasquetti Island. We headed SSE across Georgia Strait for Nanaimo. Like our trip north our course crossed the weapons testing area WG. Calling Winchesley Control, we were given permission to pass through. In a fresh SE wind, we were close hauled for the entire crossing, with just 2 tacks needed to lay the entrance to Nanaimo Harbour.
With the sails furled, we motored down the narrow Newcastle Island Passage lined with marinas and literally thousands of pleasure boats. At the southern end of the passage, we rounded up into the mooring field in Mark Bay where we picked up a mooring for two nights.
Newcastle Island is yet another of the many provinccial parks complete with mooring field, marina and dinghy dock. Ashore, Newcastle Island has a campground, small canteen (complete with ice cream), bike rentals and miles of trails.
At low tide, we walked the shoreline, checking out the tidal pools and skipping rocks.
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Next ice cream and a game of checkers on a large outdoor board.
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Next morning we rented bikes and took a trail around the island, a 2 hour trip.
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Across to the Dinghy Dock Pub for supper, then ashore again on Newcastle Island for ice cream for dessert.
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Next morning we were headed down into the gulf Islands. From Nanaimo, getting into the Gulf Islands requires passing through Dodd Narrows. Dodd Narrows is yet another set of tidal rapids that can only be transited during a 15 minute interval around slack. And to complicate this one, it is frequently used by tugs towing large log booms to the mill in Nanaimo Harbour.
Checking the current tables showed slack at 0956 hrs. With six miles to the narrows from our anchorage, we dropped the mooring just before nine. We have finally learned to trust our calculations and not rush out of the anchorage when we see others begin streaming out.
Arriving at slack, we made another "Securitay" announcement of the VHF to assure we wouldn't meet any surprises in the very narrow passage, and we were through and into Stuart Channel.
The Gulf Islands are a group of islands along the south-east coast of Vancouver Island. Sailing conditions inside the islands are distinctly milder than on Georgia Strait, and we enjoyed the light winds and sunshine sailing as we slowly made our way down from Stuart Channel into Clam Bay for lunch. In the dinghy we motored through the very narrow cut between Thetis and Keuper Islands into Telegraph Harbour. At the north end of the harbour we watched two model sailboats tack back and forth across the harbour. They are tethered to wire below the surface that they follow to one end, tack and sail back. Ashore at Telegraph Harbour Marina, more ice cream servrd. Then back aboard Estelle and
across to Trincomali Channel and into Montague Harbour, another provincial park with mooring field and dinghy dock. We anchored just outside the mooring field and dinghied ashore to the park for a hike.
In the morning, we went back ashore with Ethan's fishing rod and a "stick" rod for Ben. Our targets were the tiny bait fish that swam around the dock. We secured bait by cutting off a very sticky and slimy tube worm under the float. Two hours later we had caught and released countless tiny fish
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Then, off again, this time to nearby Ganges on Saltspring Island.
Mid July is peak boating season in Ganges, one of the most popular destinations in the Gulf Islands. Rather than try to find space in the marina or crowded anchorage, we anchored in nearby Madrona Bay with just three other boats in the large anchorage. From our anchorage to the Ganges dinghy dock is just over a quarter mile, yet boaters seem to insist on crowding into a tiny anchorage as close to the dock as possible, leaving us lots of. room next door... not sure why.
Ashore for dinner at The Tree House and after... ice cream.
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It's been an ice cream trip. Only in Boho Bay, with nothing ashore, did we miss a day.
Next morning marked the boys last day aboard. We raised the anchor and set out for Van Isle Marina in Sidney. Out in Captain Passage, we hoisted the sails and enjoyed a light air sail through Moresby Passage past Portland and Coal Islands where we rounded up and dropped the sails. Motoring in to our assigned slip, we were secured to the dock at 1620 hours, cruise over.
Next morning we walked up the dock to meet Andrew and Meghan and we were left with a strangely quiet boat.

Summer Cruising in BC Part 1

03 February 2020 | Northern Georgia Strait
James Lea
Sunset in Bull Passage, Jedediah Island

Well, it is now well past time to bring this blog up to date on our 2019 cruising activities. As I write, I am waiting in Whistler for skiing conditions to improve. It has not been the best season, but I still have some how not found time to write.
Basically, our 2019 cruising season can be divided into Three more or less different cruises.

July 7-20, 2019
Our plans for an early start to the cruising season were obviously not a reality. A renovation project at home meant that we had a myriad of decisions to make, involving many trips from Whistler to Vancouver for selection of more things than I could imagine. But by early July we had had enough and headed off, relying on cell phone and email to make any more necessary decisions.
On July 7th, we finally backed out of our slip at the Vancouver Rowing Club and headed out. Plans for the trip were Princess Louisa Inlet, followed by meeting our Whistler neighbours Kevin and Joanne Fogolin in Desolation Sound for a few days of fishing.
Although our destination was north from Vancouver, we headed across the Georgia Strait to Nanaimo, a better sailing angle. After a beautiful sail across the 35 miles of Georgia Strait, we were picking up a mooring at Newcastle Island Park. Ashore, we stretched our legs in a short walk, then back aboard for dinner and bed. It felt great to be cruising again!
Next morning, after a call to WG Control to confirm we were allowed to transit the WG weapons testing area, we were off. As forecast, the wind had swung to the south-west, giving us a nice broad reach on our NNE course to Jedediah Island.
Last spring, we had a few jobs done at our friends Strait Marine. We replaced our primary chain (200') with 300' for better security in the deep anchorages. And we also installed chain counter/remote windlass control. So now, we can not just raise and lower the anchor from the cockpit, we know how much chain we have out, excellent additions for the challenging anchoring conditions in many areas.
At Jedediah Island, our destination, we tested the new system out anchoring in Bull Passage and were pleased with it, giving us real confidence in making certain we have the proper scope out.
Ashore we walked the paths of the island, with the wild sheep keeping well away from us. We have been here a few times before, but always enjoy its feeling of remoteness. And although it can attract lots of boaters, it never seems crowded.
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Overlooking Home Bay, Jedediah Island

Next morning we were off to Pender Harbour to stock up for the remainder of the trip, meaning ten days of supplies. We anchored in Gunboat Bay, off the dock of Evie and Rolly Rolston, Whistler neighbours.
Ashore next morning, Evie took us up to her vegetable garden and with that we had all our vegetable needs for the trip! They they loaned us a car for more shopping in nearby Madeira Park.
To enter Princess Louisa Inlet means navigation the narrow but turbulent Malibu Rapids right at the mouth of the inlet. We chose our day by studying the current tables to find a day with slack current in late afternoon, giving us time to make the 45 mile trip in one day. So it was late afternoon when we approached the rapids. Because there is a curve in the rapids, you can not see the entire rapids before entering, so we called a "Securitay" on the VHF announcing our plan to enter. And luck we did, as a boat already in the rapids out of sight responded telling us they were exiting. So after they sailed out, we began our entry. Although not exactly slack, we were safely through followed by two other boats that had been waiting outside when we approached.
Although we didn't have time to look at it, we swept past the Malibu Club Young Life Camp, a luxurious camp perched on the rocks overlooking the rapids.
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Inside the inlet we stared in awe. At its widest Princess Louisa Inlet is just over half a mile. From the rapids at the mouth to Chatterbox Falls at the head is just under four miles. With cliffs soaring straight up over a mile, the effect is spectacular.
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At the head of the inlet, there is a dock with a few short hiking paths ashore. Motoring up the inlet, we tied up next to a boat we had met in Pender Harbour a few days before, so we had helping hands to take our lines. Much of Princess Louisa Inlet is a provincial park, but not all. Dock fees are by donation, and a park ranger comes and goes from time to time. There are rules posted about garbage and noise, all seemingly adhered to on the honour system.

In two days, we kayaked around, hiked the small trails including one beside the falls with a sign warning not to go further or you might risk death, as others who ignored the sign did. We heeded the warning.
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After two nights, we dropped our lines and motored down the inlet to a small mooring field with a dinghy dock and some larger hiking trails. We also took the dinghy down for a tour of the Malibu Club where we were warmly welcomed.
Next morning it was time to catch the morning slack at the rapids and head down towards Georgia Strait. In light airs we motored down Queens Reach, Princess Royal Reach and Prince of Wales Reach before heading in Sechelt Inlet to Backeddy Marina.
Backeddy Marina is well named. It is just one mile in Sechelt Inlet and two miles above Skookumchuck Rapids, the strongest rapids in BC. So currents at the marina can be strong. But the marina staff are well versed with docking and with their guidance, and three men on the dock, we were safely tied up in late afternoon.
We quickly hiked up to the nearby West Coast Wilderness Lodge to try to make a reservation for dinner, but too late, so we settled for breakfast the next morning.
It was now time to head for Desolation Sound to meet Kevin and Joanne, so we left the dock and across Malispina Strait to the docks of the Texeda Island Boat Club, where we tied up for the night.
Next morning we were off to Squirrel Cove on Cortes Island to meet Kevin and Joanne. We stayed in Squirrel two nights and went fishing during the day.
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Lunch while fishing

Joanne celebrated her birthday (a significant one) by catching an enormous Chinook Salmon that we had for a birthday dinner.
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Joanne's catch

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Dinner with Joanne's catch

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Nice Rockfish

Next morning it was time to head back to Pender to meet our grandsons Ben and Ethan for a week cruising. As it is a bit too long for a single day, we again headed for Sturt Bay (home of the Texeda Island Boat Club) for the night. But this time, the club floats were all occupied, so we anchored in the north-west corner of the very sheltered bay. With six other boats in the small anchorage, we found a spot for our anchor and tied off to shore to reduce our swinging. Although this is a common technique in this area, we have not yet really mastered it, but are improving.
Next morning we were off down Malispina Strait in light following winds, prompting the spinnaker to come out. In mid afternoon we pulled in to Gunboat Bay and dropped the anchor. Backing down we nicely wrapped the dinghy painter (line) around the prop just as Kevin and Joanne motored in. As I prepared to dive on the prop, Kevin insisted on doing it. An hour later, with a very cold and tired Kevin, we were back in operation!
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A cold Kevin!

Heading Home

30 September 2018 | Vancouver Rowing Club
Late Summer
Seafood Buffet at The Laughing Oyster

This is the final set of blog entries for our summer cruise to Desolation Sound and the Broughton Island Group.

August 23
From Okeover Inlet, we headed out Malispina Inlet, rounded Sarah Point and began the trip south. In a light NW wind, we quietly sailed down through the Copeland Islands, past Lund, Savary Island, Harwood Island and Powell River into Sturt Bay on Texeda Island, where we tied up to the very accommodating docks of the Texeda Island Yacht Club. Since our first stop here, we have not passed without visiting. Ashore, we walked the quiet streets of the village of Van Anda up to a store for some supplies, then to the village Inn for cash from the only ATM in the area. Then back to the boat.
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Jeannie and chef/owner of The Laughing Oyster

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The excellent Buffet

August 24
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Mary Mary Cafe, Van Anda, Texeda Island

In the morning, we were in no hurry, so walked up to the Mary Mary Cafe for breakfast. Then we were off south again, still enjoying the nice NW breeze. Our destination was Jedediah Island off the southern tip of Texeda Island. But by late afternoon, with a forecast for uncertain winds, we decided to divert into the excellent shelter of Secret Cove for the night. It also gave us a chance to refill the dinghy gas tank again.

August 25
From our anchorage in Secret Cove, we set out for Jedediah Island, just 9 miles away. Jedediah Island is part of the Lasqueti Island group. Although the islands are not far from Nanaimo and Powell River, we expected it to be remote and quiet... we were wrong! Every anchorage was filled, so we found another deep (65') anchorage. It was fine for the day, but we would need to find better protection for the night.
In the dinghy we soon found a trail head. Ashore we crossed the island, passing a few abandoned buildings and kayak campsites (Jedediah Island is a provincial park). The island has a colourful and fascinating history.
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Abandoned home on Jedediah Island

By late afternoon we decided that a return to Secret Cove was the best alternative, so we motored back.
And we motored slowly! The boat bottom has a healthy marine garden on it, slowing us down significantly. So much so that I called to arrange a haul-out and cleaning in Sidney.
Back in Secret Cove we settled in just as the first rain in 8 weeks started. And it was here in Secret Cove that we last had rain!

August 26
In the morning the sun had returned and we set out across the Strait of Georgia for Newcastle Island (another provincial marine park) in Nanaimo harbour.
Down through Welcome Passage and out into the Strait, we set sail, crossing area WG, the naval weapons testing area (inactive today) and enjoyed yet another beautiful sail until the winds died as we approached the harbour.
Safely anchored, we went ashore for a short walk, then over to the Dinghy Dock Pub for dinner.
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Dinghy Dock Pub, Protection Island... it is actually floating.

Good news!!! The smoke is gone, blown away by the recent NW winds!

August 27
With the now clear air, we have decided to head down to Victoria for the long weekend to visit our daughter Sarah and family.
So today, the first order of business was to get through Dodd Narrows. The currents in Dodd Narrows (over 8 knots is not unusual) are not the strongest in BC, but add the heavy traffic, and it can be quite an experience. Our calculations showed us leaving the anchorage at 11 am to arrive at slack, But at 9:30, we watched other boats begin to stream out in the direction of the narrows. We checked the calculations and waited... more boats streaming out. Finally at 10:30, we could not resist the "herd mentality" any longer and got underway... arriving 1/2 hour early. But we made it through and sailed down in the quiet airs to yet another provincial marine park and Montague Harbour.

August 28
Our scheduled haulout was two days away, and just 30 miles, so we headed over to nearby Ganges Harbour. Rather than head into our yacht club outstation dock, we decided to anchor for the night. We called Mike and Paula from Verstovia, who we met in Desolation Sound and had kept in touch with. They live on Saltspring Island just a few miles from Ganges, so we met for lunch. They took us to the Saltspring Island Cheese Factory, just a few miles outside Ganges, where we had an excellent lunch, followed by a tour of the cheese-making and some purchases in their shop. Then a stop at the Ganges Farmers Market, always fun. A great afternoon!
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Ganges Farmers Market

August 29
This morning, we began hoisting the anchor as usual. But as the anchor was coming over the bow roller, the chain swivel snapped, sending the anchor (a 20 kg Rocna) to the bottom!!
Jeannie hit the MOB button to get our coordinates, and we set off wondering how to retrieve it. A call to Paula and she had us in touch with a local diver. His fee was $250 if he found the anchor, $150 if he didn't. Well, I paid him $150... no anchor. We motored into fresh southerlies over to Canoe Cove Marina, where we tied up for two nights. In addition to the haul-out, I had called a marine contractor on the site to arrange to have some work done on the engine. Since it was new, 4 years ago we have had an intermittent starting problem that I finally traced to a faulty pre-heat solenoid. When we arrived at the marina I walked up to the shop (Raven Marine) and also ordered a new swivel. Since I had to have them cut off the remains of the old one, I asked them to install the new one. Nelson (my contact at Raven) asked me about how I had installed the previous one and suggested a modification to prevent a recurrence.
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Haulout at Canoe Cove Marina

Next morning, the solenoid was installed, haulout, cleaning and new prop zinc installed at noon and new anchor swivel installed in the afternoon, along with our back-up anchor, a Fortress FX-37
In the evening, we met Sarah and family and went to dinner at the Stonehouse Pub, just a short walk from the boatyard.

August 31
In the morning, we cast off for the Royal Victoria Yacht Club for three nights. With our very active grand-sons, we enjoyed two days of fun, fishing, kite-flying and play.

September 3
With a boost from the current, but in flat calm ait, we motored back up the shore and back into Montague Harbour where we picked up a mooring for the last night of our cruise.
We had it on good authority that the restaurant at the marina was worth visiting, so we took the dinghy over for dinner, their last evening dinner of the summer. The Crane and Robin has a small but excellent menu, highly recommended. The fish tacos are delicious. We found a seat in the restaurant overlooking the harbour and had a great meal. After dinner, we walked back to the shore to watch the sunset, a perfect last night for our cruise.

September 4
With slack currents in the cuts not due until noon, we had a leisurely start to our last morning. Evenings are getting chilly, but with the sun on our cockpit enclosure in the mornings, we were still able to have breakfast in the warmth of the sun.
Heading out, we decided to motor north 16 miles to Gabriola Passage to give us a better sailing angle across the Strait of Georgia back to Vancouver. Slightly late for slack, we still pushed through with 2.5 knots of opposing current. Safely through, we bore off for Point Grey, 20 miles across. In another beautiful afternoon, pushed by a 15 knot NW breeze, we finished our cruise with a perfect sail. Furling the sails as we approached Lions Gate Bridge, we were back in our berth at the Vancouver Rowing Club in early evening, cruise over.

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

10 September 2018 | The Laughing Oyster, Okeover Landing
Smoky, warm, light winds
Smoke at Manson's Landing

Getting to the Broughtons is more difficult than getting back. From Port McNeill to Desolation Sound was three great sailing days, with a bit of motoring through the rapids. But as we entered the Desolation Sound area, we were ready to stop. We decided to spend two nights in beautiful quiet Von Donop Inlet. Although just a few miles off the beaten path to the favourite anchorages in Desolation Sound, it gets far fewer boats. Here too we saw far fewer boats that when we left in mid-July.
Anchor down and set, we headed ashore for a short hike to stretch our legs. We had not really done any walking since Port McNeill, four days ago. Then back to the boat for dinner. We are still working our way through the freezer where we stocked up hurriedly on our way north. We still have four big steaks from Big Bay and tonight, we split one. With fresh veggies from Port McNeill and a BC Cab Sauvignon, a nice dinner.
In the morning, we did the reverse hike we did a few weeks earlier... we hiked from Von Donop to Squirrel Cove, where we counted just 14 boats. Although we could not see the full anchorage, there were far fewer boats in the inner anchorage that we could see. Clearly the season is winding down here. Back in Von Donop, we did a dinghy tour of the area, a few boat jobs and the day was over.
When we came through the rapids into Desolation Sound, we noticed a change... smoke. With the wildfires raging in the interior of the province, the smoke has been slowly working its way to the coast. We noticed signs of it when heading north, but today it was noticeably heavier, with warnings about health concerns and not exerting yourself.
Next morning (August 20th), we raised anchor and rounded the west side of Cortes Island and headed for Manson's Landing. We arrived to find a crowded anchorage, typically very deep everywhere but some very small areas between deep water and drying flats. Rather than anchor in 70', we crept up to a nice 20' and set the anchor. Not a spot for low tide as we would be just a few feet from grounding, but fine for a few hours around high tide.
We clearly need more anchor rode. We carry 200' of chain on our main rode. That means safe anchorage in about 40'. But many of the anchorages in the areas we have been cruising are significantly deeper. So we will have to decide whether to replace the entire chain with 300', or add to the existing with 150' of rope. A project for next winter.
But for now, we were well set for a few hours, so we set off ashore. We walked up the road about one kilometre to the commercial centre of Cortes Island. It contained a couple of cafes, grocery store and a few other shops. We decided on a small cafe for lunch and were not disappointed... excellent. Then a few groceries in the attached co-op and we headed back to the dinghy. We took the dinghy into a lagoon, accessible only for a few hours around high tide, found a path up to Hague Lake where we stuck our toes into the warm water. But time to catch the tide and avoid finding ourselves trapped inside the lagoon.
Back aboard, we hoisted the anchor and rounded Sutil Point and dropped the anchor in Cortes Bay in better anchoring depths.
The smoke is getting worse, causing us to re-think the remainder of our stay here. We have some areas we would like to see, but with the smoke, little of the spectacular scenery is visible, not to mention the effect of breathing the smoky air. Our eyes are sore and we are doing little that requires exertion.
But we had one stop we were not going to miss... dinner at The Laughing Oyster. We had a delicious lunch there on our way north and wanted to try dinner. And we learned that Wednesday was Seafood Buffet night. So we made reservations and headed down.
Leaving Cortes Bay (August 21), we motored in light air across the Sound down into Malispina Inlet and up Lancelot Inlet to the Susan Islets for the night. Next morning, we dug clams at low tide, only to find the area closed due to shellfish poisoning, so back they went. In the afternoon, we headed down Lancelot Inlet and into Okeover Inlet. By now the smoke was at its worst. With less than 1/2 mile visibility, we watched the radar screen all the way down. But we met little traffic. Boats were just staying put in the dense smoke. But the meal was worth the trip.
Vessel Name: Estelle
Vessel Make/Model: Bristol 41.1
Hailing Port: Charlottetown, PEI
Crew: Jeannie & Jim Lea
About: Flag Counter
Extra: After cruising the east coast of North America for 10 years, from Nova Scotia to Panama, it's time for a change. Estelle will be cruising the coast of British Columbia and Alaska beginning in 2017.
Estelle's Photos - Peru, Days 1 to 3
Photos 1 to 70 of 70 | The Voyage of S/V Estelle (Main)
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