Gulf Island Cruise 2018 #11
23 June 2018
We were up early in order to make Gabriola Pass at slack water (0755 hours). All went smoothly, but out in Georgia Strait we found 1 foot waves rolling down the strait very close together, and some were bigger. This made for a bouncy ride and made eating breakfast difficult. One big wave threw Don across the cabin. He crashed into the chart table breaking one of the supports, but happily he was not injured. We got the sails up and had a fast sail in 10 – 15 knots of NW wind almost all the way home. Got the boat cleaned up, dinner at White Spot, long hot showers at home without having to put money in the meter and a big, comfy bed that doesn’t move. Aaaaaah, bliss!
Gulf Island Cruise 2018 #10
22 June 2018
Time to start heading for home, so we motored north picking up some wind as we passed Porlier Pass, and had a nice downwind sail to Pirates Cove Marine Park.
The entrance to Pirates Cove is narrow with drying reefs, so it can be tricky. You have to cross through a gap in the outer reef then make a left turn and motor between two reefs until you get into the bay. There is a transit, 2 markers onshore that you have to keep lined up to get you through the gap in the outer reef. Sometimes this is hard to see, but this time there was a big white cross onshore and a large white arrow painted on the rocks, both looking newly-painted, so that made life easy. The inner ends of both reefs are marked by buoys, so you just go slowly and pass between them. Inside, we saw a lovely new dinghy dock and several chains hanging from the rocks for stern-tying, again well-marked with red paint. The chains are a great idea because if there is only a ring in the rock above the high-tide line you have to go rock-climbing if you come in at low-tide. We chose a chain just on the other side of the dock, dropped the anchor and ran the stern line in record time, with no problems. But, of course, there has to be some drama! Don felt we were too close to the dinghy dock so we decided to just let out more stern line while we motored forward and picked up the anchor then set it again a bit further to the left, then pull in the stern line again. Except that after the first attempt we found ourselves back in the same place! And on the second attempt the stern line jammed in the chain. And the depth-sounder acted up again. (We later concluded that maybe it just can't get an accurate reading in depths less than about 12 feet). But eventually we got ourselves all sorted out. We were feeling a bit lazy so didn't go ashore to explore, although we have been there before.
Gulf Island Cruise 2018 #9
21 June 2018
We were surprised to get a cell phone call from Jay confirming the morning arrangements. In the middle of nowhere, when my cell phone won't pick up a signal at home! The hike to Princess Cove was further and hillier than we expected, especially as Don was carrying his accordion, but we made it to the dinghy dock and Jay came out to get us. Onboard, he had a valve trombone and Anita had her electric keyboard plugged into the boat's electrical system. Afterwards, they walked us back to Conover Cove, stopping to peer into one of the old cabins awaiting funds for restoration. The water was quite calm inside the cove, but outside it was blowing quite hard and we could see white-caps rolling by. A good, sheltered spot to remember.
After lunch, we pulled up the anchor, which was well set in mud, and motored out into the wind and waves. And the depth-sounder started working again! We motored to Montague Harbour, a large bay on Galiano Island, bashing into the southeasterly wind and waves, because Don wanted to try the dinghy in some decent wind. We picked up one of many mooring buoys (another marine park) and later on, when the wind had abated somewhat we rigged the dinghy for sailing and had a grand sail around the mooring buoys and all the way to the other side of the bay and back. Fun!
Don went for another twilight row and met an interesting couple from Williams Lake who spend 5 months down here every summer. They bring their truck and camper and tow a Montgomery 23, which looks a bit like a slightly smaller version of our boat. They explore the coast by alternating between spending a few days on the boat and a few days on the road, depending on the weather. Not a bad way to travel!
Gulf Island Cruise 2018 #8
20 June 2018
We left mid-morning to motor to Wallace Island, yet another marine park with an interesting history that we had not visited before.
A reef lies parallel to the long, thin island so we took the safe route around the buoy at the south end of the reef and then motored back up to the entrance to tiny Conover Cove. There was room for another boat at the small dock, but we elected to anchor with a stern tie (a floating line run from the back of the boat to a secure point onshore, used to prevent the boat from swinging with wind and tide in small anchorages, to avoid swinging into other boats or obstacles) to one of the rings placed in the rocks by Park staff. The rings are sometimes very difficult to see, but in this case they had recently been marked with red paint. All was going well until Don was getting ready to drop the anchor and he asked me how deep the water was. We had been getting readings of 10 to 12 feet. We need a minimum of 4 feet, and the tide was going to drop another 1 or 2 feet, so it was shallow but OK. The depth sounder read 8.8 feet. How deep now? 8.8 feet. How deep now? Still 8.8 feet - uh-oh - the depth-sounder is flashing, meaning the last reading was 8.8 but now it can't get a reading - darn thing is malfunctioning. This is not good. But we got the anchor down and Don got in the dinghy and ran the stern-tie ashore without incident. Just as he brought the end back to the boat a couple of hikers started waving and shouting at us. This was a bit worrying - did they know something we didn't? - until we realized they were boating friends from Nanaimo. We tied the line off and rowed ashore for a chat. Their boat was anchored in Princess Cove, a short hike away. They are both musicians and invited us over the following morning so that Don could join them for a jam session.
We had a lazy afternoon. Don got some pictures of a heron and later enjoyed his favourite cruising pastime - a twilight row around the anchorage looking for wildlife and chatting to other boaters.
Gulf Island Cruise 2018 #7
19 June 2018
Up early to catch the 0924 slack water at Dodd Narrows. Went through with the knot-meter reading 5 kts, but the GPS said we were doing 6.3kts over the bottom with the current! A SE breeze came up so we had a nice sail until it died. Tied up at what used to be one of our favourite marinas, Thetis Island. Looks like the new owners are doing some work – replacing or upgrading the docks and building a new deck off the pub. But we found that the laundry and washrooms were not very clean, and moorage was a bit pricy. However, we needed to buy a few groceries and fill up the water tank, and it was nice to be able to plug into shore power, run the refrigeration and use the WiFi. We had dinner at the pub, but the food wasn’t great and they were short-staffed so the service was incredibly slow. Maybe we’ll try the other marina at the head of the bay next time.
Gulf Island Cruise 2018 #6
18 June 2018
Newcastle Island has an interesting history:
It has long been a recreation spot for the residents of Nanaimo and frequent water taxis ferry people back and forth. (One of the captains was not paying attention and actually went between us and the mooring buoy as we were approaching to pick up the buoy. Where's my paintball gun?) There was also a coal mine there (hence the name, after my old stomping grounds), and quarrying for sandstone. It was a lovely day, so we decided to stretch our legs and go for a long walk around the trails. Don rowed us over to the dinghy dock (the first of many trips) and off we went. Don took lots of pictures. We saw an eagle, some killdeer (a kind of plover) and yellow waterlilies in Mallard Lake. Just as we came up what I hoped was the last uphill stretch, I heard a sound up in the trees like a bird taking off (whap, whap, whap). Then it sounded like a very big bird taking off (WHAP, WHAP, WHAP) and then it became CRACK, CRACK, CRACK! and I turned and looked up to see a tall dead tree beginning to fall right towards us! I yelled at Don, who was ahead of me, ran a little way up the trail and then leaped off into the undergrowth. I don't know why I thought that would help, but it turned out to be a good idea as the tree crashed down across the trail pretty much where I'd been standing. I remember looking up and seeing a large chunk of branch with a bit of twig sticking out bouncing off the trail. Don said he ran up the trail and when he looked back he saw the tree fall and bounce and a great cloud of dust and debris went up. I had stuff sticking to my face, the back of my neck, inside my shirt, even in my ears! But no injuries other than a few scrapes and bruises. That was close. (Photo 27) We wondered why the tree fell at that moment. It was a nice day with a bit of breeze, but no strong winds. Don thought maybe there had been a tremor, this being an earthquake zone. I looked online when we got home and there was a mild one at Friday Harbour at 11.38 and another at Sudden Valley at 1.58pm. We don't really know what time the tree fell, we thought it might have been around 1.30 but it could have been later. So, who knows? There are miles of tunnels underneath the island from the coal mining, so maybe the first tremor loosened the tree and the second brought it down? Anyway, we're glad to be in one piece.
After a wash and some lunch, we caught the aforesaid water taxi over to Nanaimo to buy a large, heavy block of ice at the gas dock. We had a coffee and watched the world go by. Nanaimo has a lovely waterfront. Then it was back to the boat for showers (very good facilities at the park), dinner and bed.