Thursday, June 29, 2017

North to Nanaimo

Tumbo Island
Canada has been a news/phone/email blackout for us for the last ten days.  Our phones, which we thought would work in BC, don't. We've had nilch, nada, nothing.  It's kinda nice.

I've been able to wean my way off the ever present news cycle of craziness and angst and our daily cycles have moved to more natural rhythms of sea, sun, and tide.

A few evenings ago we were afloat in Pirate's Cove on De Courcy Island, the only sailboat in the harbor. Those of you who know the Canada Gulf Islands might be wondering why we haven't gained more northing by now.  It's been ten days, for Dogs sake. As the crow flies, we're only 40 miles north of Orcas Island.  But we are not crows, we are slugs, and we've meandered. And isn't that what the summer is for... meandering.

Picking up from where we left off on our last blog entry .....  A stiff southerly kept us at the Orcas Island Yacht Club docks for an extra day.  With the wind easing somewhat, we drove over to the West Sound Marina to take on some diesel fuel and drop our garbage and recycle.  It is a tight passage into the dock with a rocky islet 40 feet off the starboard and the fule dock on port, shallow water all around. The wind pinned us to the dock as we finished our chores.  It took a couple of tries to get off the dock but with a little help from a local fisherman we made it, did a short turn-around and snaked our way out of the marina complex.
Off Tumbo and Cabbage Islands where we set the crab traps.  Looking out on Strait of Georgia.
 We sailed across West Sound and entered Wasp Channel.  I'm up top.  Connie's down below playing music.  Suddenly I hear a roar and looking back I see a big white powerboat coming up my port side.  She's big. Must be 60 feet or more. And she's moving fast, pushing a bow wave.  By the time she's past I can judge the size of her wake and start to worry about everything down below getting tossed side to side, The accordion getting tossed to the floor, the ukelele jumping around, the dishes in the strainer falling in the galley, and Connie trying to grab everything at once.

There was a second, smaller powerboat coming up behind on the port and land was very near on the starboard so I could not turn to starboard so I turned hard to port and took the wave head on.  Better to pitch than to roll side to side. The bow went up, the bow went down, water streamed down the side decks. Expletives erupted from down below.  I turned hard to starboard, most of my speed gone, as the little powerboat (who was keeping a good lookout) turned to port a little to avoid me. Wasp Passage is only 650 feet wide. Seems like a good place to watch your manners.

We left Jones Island on our starboard and sailed northwest to Stewart Island, Prevost Harbor where we tied up to the linear moorage.  Having not done so before, we thought it would be a new experience.  Linear moorage is made by two huge buoys with cables in between that you side tie to. There is enough room for four medium size boats or two big ones. Unfortunately, an hour later, a power boat took the south side of the same linear moorage and choose to run machinery most of the night.  Why O Why do some, not all, power boaters have to have a fossil fuel device running?  Don't
they get tired of the hum, the clank, the smell, the vibration?  Just turn it off, why don't ya?  Enjoy the quiet. As you see, the power squadron is getting tiresome to the Travelers.

From Stewart we risked crossing the border and checked into Pender Harbor where I sat on hold for 20 minutes to answer the border control agent's questions with "no, no, no, nothing, no, no, no, thank you." We had raced to the dock after spying three other boats making a bee line for the
custom's dock.  Honestly, they were going full tilt, trying to beat out old Traveler to the customs check in.  I played that game, yes I did, I'm embarrassed to admit.  I pushed the throttle over and got MY bow wave happening, roaring to the dock and leaping off the boat, documents in hand.  I took the first phone and waited on hold.  Two other people grabbed the remaining phones and they sat on hold as three other boaters queued up to wait their turn.

Port Browning
From Pender Harbor we sailed around the corner and into Port Browning, anchored, and had a nice little walkabout.  The next morning the fog had set in.  I could hear boats talking about it on the VHF radio.  We stayed put.  I saw a powerboat leave the port and after tracking him for a while on the AIS I hailed him on the radio and asked about the density of the fog... less than one kilometer, he said.  Staying put sounded like a good idea still. After all, we are meandering.

The second day the fog cleared and we sailed around the corner to Tumbo Island, just off the south end of Saturna Island. Our friend Scott Tobiason had told us that Tumbo was a good crabbing place so we set our two traps near Cabbage Island.  The anchorage was wonderful. Being exposed to the
Strait of Georgia, it was wild and wolly.  Lots of eagles and sea birds.  Very few boats.  Taking the dinghy out a few hours later we were delighted to find three crabs in the trap, two of them legal size.  Mmmmm fresh crab for dinner.

We befriended Peter and Steven who were cruising around in their nice 30 footer fishing boat and got good advice on where to set the shrimp trap. The next day we motored around the corner, set the trap, waited two hours, and brought up 50 shrimp. Mmmmm fresh shrimp for dinner. We saw Peter and Steven again and they came over and gave me a Norwegian cod jig to use for catching bottom fish for crab bait.
Norwegian Cod Jig

Sailing north up the Strait of Georgia we turned into Active Pass, dodged three ferry boats and made our way into Montague Harbor where we dropped the hook and had a quiet evening.  The next day we sailed to Ganges to provision.  Our mode now was to sail and keep sailing unless the sails hung slack and the boat speed was zero.  We've got all sorts of time. Why motor? What's the hurry? It took us all day to sail into Ganges.

In Ganges, on Saltspring Island, there are two government docks for use for up to two hours free.  We stretched the two hours to three and  got our provisioning done quite nicely, thank you. 

From Ganges we sailed (very slowly) to Wallace Island and did our first stern tie mooring of the trip.

To stern tie, you drop a bow anchor, and watch it set well.  Then you back towards land and take a line ashore.  Once we were in position, Connie jumped into the dinghy and rowed a yellow floating line to shore where she looped it through a chain bolted to the wall and brought it back to the boat.  We tightened the lines and there we were, Traveler strung between a well set anchor and a line to shore.  We spent three nights at Wallace Island and met some nice folks there. Near sunset after we blew the conch shell horn we saw a neighbor having trouble resetting his anchor.  I jumped into the dinghy and became the little tug that could... pushing our neighbor's boat away from another boat and helping maneuver it to a better position.  Then I visited the neighbors and we talked about where to go in Princess Louisa Sound.

Later I noticed a boat down the way that was drifting free.  So I drove our little dinghy down there and helped those good folks reset their anchor and retrieve their stern tie lines.  Whew, it was 11:00 and time for bed... a little glow still visible in the west thanks to the summer solstice.

At Wallace Island we set more crab traps and caught a few. We also set out a shrimp trap in 200 feet of water and when I went in the dinghy to check it I could not find it anywhere.  I returned to Traveler, running out of gas just before the anchorage.  Then I got more fuel and spent an hour looking for the trap.  Disappointed, I returned.  When we finally left Wallace two days later, we returned to the exact location (latitude and longitude) and I swept the water with the binoculars.  Nothing in site.  So we continued north and I kept looking.  Finally I spotted my floats and
dancing a jig I pulled the trap aboard.  No shrimp, but two small crabs were small enough to crawl through the funnel opening. I set them free and we slowly sailed north through the Tricomali Channel.
Crab Sushi

We've had steamed crab for dinner.  Fried shrimp.  Crab cakes. Crab Omlettes. Crab cocktails. Can we ever get enough?

We arrived at Pirate's Cove, anchored in the center, then took the dinghy ashore for some nice fresh well water.  We haven't un-pickeled our water maker yet so we've been filling five gallon jugs with nice drinking water when we find it.  Otherwise, we've got 150 gallons of chlorinated water in our tanks for washing, cooking, etc..  Soon we'll get the water maker going and start using that for drinking water.  Here in the Gulf Islands the water has been pretty murky and we don't want to clog up our system with this thick stuff. I'm hoping that further north, the water will clear up.  And we're hoping for warmer water so we (meaning Connie) can jump into the water and clean the bottom of the boat!

Wonderful tasting well water at Pirates Cove
Next up we visited the big town of Nanaimo where we finally found internet so I can post this blog.  After anchoring at Newcastle for a night we moved over to the Nanaimo Yacht Club docks for two nights, one of which was covered by our reciprocal.  Here we worked on the windless some more, painted the anchor chain at 30, 60, 90 feet intervals, provisioned, and took long luxurious showers.

Nanaimo Yacht Club docks.  See Traveler out there on the end?

We are set to proceed north to Deep Bay to meet up with Hal and Kathy, our friends from Mexico.  Then the next week we cross over towards Princess Louisa Inlet and try to hook up with Scott and Karen on their sailboat Tula for the run up to Chatterbox Falls.

We are getting into the slow rhythms of the tides, the sunsets, the wildlife and doing our best to just appreciate the world we are traveling within.