Mystic's Adventures

04 September 2014 | Bahia de Los Angeles
08 July 2014 | Santa Rosalia, BCS
24 May 2014 | Puerto Ballandra, Isla Carmen, BCS
22 September 2013
22 September 2013
30 August 2013
03 August 2013 | Port Townsend, Washington

Oh! Canada

22 September 2013
Joan-Marie aka Cricket
We left Garrison Bay on Monday morning, August 12th and picked Bedwell Harbour, South Pender Island, British Columbia as a check in point for Canadian Customs. It was a short hop across Haro Strait. Unfortunately, it was cloudy and a bit chilly and I found my wool socks again along with jeans, long underwear, fleece, heavier jacket, and gloves. Ron was in denial and had his shorts on; he kept telling me that it was summer and he was wearing shorts even if he had to wear a jacket.

Checking in was fast and easy; the docking process took longer as did anchoring later. These days when you arrive in Canada, you arrive at one of the designated ports of entry and check in by phone. There was no agent to personally greet you or come aboard the boat. Only one of us could get off the boat at this point; I could only get off the boat to help dock and had to jump back on while Ron found the phone. The official asked a few questions; in this case they asked Ron if we had any firearms on board, how much alcohol on board, and how long we were staying. That was pretty much it. We were given a number to keep for our records. We raised our Canadian courtesy flag and left the dock. (We fly our American flag off the stern and when you entered another country you fly their flag. It’s usually a smaller version and in our case flown on a line near the mast.)

We had gotten there at a good time because right after we checked in other boats started to arrive. We made a beeline for the anchorage just outside the marina, and, as usual we were slugs. We did our usual “that looks like a good place”, etc, etc, only to have someone beat us to the very spot we had spied. Slow learners. Oh, well, it looks good right here, drop it!

It was at this point that we started really noticing the “cars” that people are driving. Basically the boat is the house and the car is the dingy. We drive a late model economy size dingy with a four stroke engine that has six horses powering it. Nothing fancy, but it gets us where we need to go. We usually keep the dink, as we refer to it, on the forward deck and the engine secured on the stern rail, most configurations that you will find on sailboats. We occasionally tow it short distances, but always with the engine off.

But we started to notice the size of people’s car and the engines, lots of horses – in some cases they are half the size of the boat towing it; usually the power boats. But, one in particular caught our eye that evening, a sailboat. And, once we saw what was on board, we were, like WOW!

The sailboat was just a little longer than us. We were guessing forty feet. The dingy, or this case, the skiff was around eighteen feet and had an 80 horse powered engine on it. The skiff was rafted on the port side of the boat. We couldn’t figure out why until we saw the first dog, then the second, and finally the third-- one Saint Bernard, and two Newfoundlands. Our minds were busily thinking about dog food, water for the dogs and, huh, the size and frequency of, well, you know. Oh, and there were also three adults aboard. We now understood why they needed the big skiff and the big engine.

We both wanted to visit Butchart Gardens. We tinkered with the idea of anchoring behind the gardens in a nearby inlet, but had talked to people about there being lots of boats in the cove, so we decided to stay in one of the marinas close by in Brentwood. After being out for nearly ten days, it gave us the opportunity to top off our water tanks, do a couple loads of laundry, and replenish our fresh fruits and veggies.

Butchart Gardens was within walking distance of the marina and it was a warm, cloudy, and humid morning. We took our time wandering through each of the gardens often letting crowds of people go by us before we continued our tour. The history and the splendor of the blooms were incredible. It took years and a labor of love and several generations of the Butchart family to complete this once quarry into what is now one of the most visited and a National Historic Site of Canada ( The picture that is featured above is of the Sunken Garden. This picture does not even begin to display the true splendor.

We kicked ourselves for not researching better, but favorite Canadian musician Bruce Cockburn was scheduled to perform that evening. It was included in the price of the admission. The only catch was that you couldn’t get stamped to come back in for the evening 8:00 concert. We entered when they opened that morning to allow ourselves the day to slowly wander. We had planned on an early night so that we could take off to our next destination the next morning. Needless to say, as much as we kicked ourselves for missing the concert, I felt sorry for the folks that got rained on later that evening. The skies finally opened up in the early evening and being an outdoor venue, it had to be a wet one!

Our next stop was Montague, an anchorage on Galiano Island. We left later than planned from Brentwood and the rain followed us. We had ferries on our six as we made our way through the Gulf Islands. Ron had remembered this particular anchorage before as being quiet and not too many people around. August is a busy month. We found a spot in amongst the other boats and settled in for the night as the rain finally fizzled out to a beautiful sunset.

The weekend was upon us and we left the next morning, Friday, bound for Ganges on Salt Spring Island. Since it was Friday, we got an early start because we wanted to anchor out for the next two nights. And, with the upcoming weekend, we knew that the Saturday farmer’s market was a must-do on our list as well as everyone else’s.

As it turned out, it was delightful place with float planes landing and taxiing right next to us on the water, a hungry white swan that visited in the evening. . .we had some left over bread for her, and my favorite yummy tomatoes from the farmer’s market. We also enjoyed this incredible group of drummers, a marimba band called Ruwadzano. The group drummed traditional music of Zimbabwe and I couldn’t believe that they didn’t have a CD out. I went up asked as I would have bought one on the spot, but they are working on it.

After two days in Ganges, we looked at the calendar and it was time to think about heading back and checking in. We pulled out the charts and the one cruising guide we had and decided to head back to Pender Island, but this time to Port Browning, which is on the other side of the island from Bedwell Harbour, our first stop.

As it would turn out it was our favorite place. Although it had a small marina, it also had a great anchorage. The dingy ride was quick to get ashore and they had a great little pub where we discovered something called a Caesar, a drink that is, something along the lines of a Bloody Mary, but made with Calmato Juice. Ron has become a very proficient bartender!

It was time for this part of the cruising adventure to end. After two nights at Port Browning, we made our way back across to Friday Harbor to check ourselves back in to the good old U.S. of A. From there it was back to Port Townsend. We still had follow-up to do on our notorious engine adventure.

Vessel Name: Mystic Island
Vessel Make/Model: Island Packet 38
Hailing Port: Astoria, Oregon
Crew: Ron & Joan-Marie (aka Cricket) Ash
We retired, but joked that we are just 'tired'. Mystic is a relatively new boat to us and we are still working out the kinks. We've started a shake down cruise in the Pacific Northwest before heading south to warmer weather in September 2013. [...]