Monday, July 10, 2017

To the Sunshine Coast

The cavernous holds of Traveler were chock full of seafood when we sailed north out of Pirate's Cove on the 27th of June, timing it such as to approach Dodd Narrows at a slack ebb current predicted for an hour past noon.  Our GPS track showed that we'd been here southbound last September 9th 2016 on our way from Ketchikan to Olympia. That time we caught the slack flood and rode the ebb, trying to make good time south as we were in boogie mode.  This time I could see a few sailboats up ahead hovering as they waited for the current to turn the other way. When we arrived at the pass the time was right, and we all poured through the channel, which is about 175 feet wide at it's narrowest point.

Because there is a dogleg at the north end of the pass, boats must transit carefully so as to not be surprised by oncoming traffic.  Some people announce on VHF radio channel 16 that they are coming through. However, since there are normally only two slack times per daylight hours, when those times occur during busy summer months, a parade of boats will be coming through. No need to broadcast guys, everyone is doing it.  We crept through slowly, keeping to the right and hoping that nothing huge would come around the corner when we did. Nothing huge did.

I'd been talking to a power boat operator the day before who witnessed what he called "road rage" in Dodd Narrows.  A few powerboats were coming through at slack when right at the tightest point they came upon a small fleet of sailboats, all trying to sail through without the benefit of their auxilery engines.  The powerboats, being "give way" vessels, had to dodge the sailboats who were "stand on" vessels by maritime law.  Channel 16 erupted with road rage as power yelled at sail. 

When I heard that story I remarked politely to the power boater, "Seems like those sailboats could have just motored through like everyone else.  Maybe they were in a race."  And of course that's what was happening, a normal occurrence there at Dodd Narrows.  To myself I chuckled and thought of the times I'd been going through narrow passages when a powerboat roared through tossing me about in an unsafe way.  Can you say, "Just desserts?"
In Nanaimo we anchored two nights and tied at the dock two nights with the Nanaimo Yacht Club. Canadians, what friendly people. They invited us to a party and gave us hamburgers, hot dogs and cheap local beer or wine. We left Nanaimo on Canada Day, avoiding zippy little boats, jet skis and the fireworks display that was to take place right there in New Castle marine park where we'd anchored.  Everyone wondered why we gave up our precious spot...

Exiting through Departure Bay and seeing big wind and waves in the Strait, we hauled up a reefed main, rolled out the jib, and pushed out into the bigger water.  With the wind and waves on the stern, we sailed north.  The Strait of Georgia gets up some big blocky rollers, we call it chop, when the wind blows across that long stretch of fetch, not unlike the Golfo de California. We were battened down well and stayed on deck so as not to get seasick; such it was as we galloped north.  Traveler was happy to have wind in her sails and to get playfully tossed about. 

Eventually we rounded the corner and found Northwest Bay with a sheltered anchorage for the night.  I fired some flares (half of them failed) to celebrate Canada Day and we listened to the people ashore on the beach celebrating around their camp fires by singing Oh Canada.

The next day was similar weather and sea state.  By early afternoon the rollers were about three foot high and we were happy to again turn the corner, this time into Deep Bay where we found Hal and Kathy on their summer boat, Ms Kathryn.  This couple has two boats, one in Mexico (Airborne)and one in Canada (Miss Kathryn) and that's where they call home.

Summer home, Miss Kathryn

Hal and Kathy arranged reciprocal moorage for us there at the Deep Bay Yacht Club dock and we spent three nice days with them there, sharing meals and tall tales.  Deep bay is deep, the marina being in about 50 feet of water and just the right depth for me to catch crabs off the back of the boat. Could't be any handier.  We took the opportunity of having Hal's 18 year old nephew, a lifeguard and recent graduate, available for labor, and he cleaned the bottom of the boat for us.

Boat bottom cleaning team: Boss #1, Boss #2, and Diver

I'm amazed that after 15 months there was very little growth and no barnacles!  That's what happens when you keep the boat moving and then put her in cold Puget Sound waters.

Oysters a plenty!
North of Deep Bay we found Henry Bay on Denman Island for a quiet night.  The next morning we took the dinghy ashore at low tide and harvested 20 beautiful oysters before raising anchor on the mother ship and threading the needle through Comox channel to go around the corner to Hornby Island and the popular anchorage and beach at Tribune Bay where boys chased girls in bikinis, and kids dug in the sand. We joined the crowd for a warm afternoon of walking the beach, swimming, and drinking beer sitting in the sand.  

I was worried about the weather forecast as it predicted 10 to 15 knots from the SE rising to 15 to 25 knots early in the morning.  Tribune Bay opens to the southeast so I had good reason to be concerned. The night was calm. The early morning was flat as a pancake. The big gaff schooner, Pacific Grace had anchored a quarter mile off our bow and we watched her three boats row ashore, each young bosn steering with an oar, the bow person calling out the cadance to the four oarspersons.  Each of the three boats beached, then got carried up the tide line.  The 30 crew then set about playing an active game of frisby.  About 09:30 the wind started softly from the SE.  A few boats up-anchored and left.  At 10:00 the wind became brisk and a short chop came up.  A few more boats left.  At 10:30 I looked at the small sailboat next to us and the skipper on the bow was having difficulty hanging on while trying to pull the anchor up.  Time for us to go! 

Tribune Bay
Connie road the bow like a cowgirl, running the windless to pull the anchor on board as I struggled to keep the bow into the wind.  Finally we got her secure and, full throttle, headed out of the bay right into the teeth of a 20 knot blast with three foot building waves. After an hour of upwind progress I climbed onto the cabin top and raised the main, putting in three reefs.  Then I brought up the little staysail and Connie turned to port bringing her under sail and pointed at Lasqueti Island, eight miles to the north.

Crossing the Strait of Georgia
We had closed all the hatches and put everything away down below.  With the reduced sail she still made 4.5 knots which was plenty for us as the waves were rolling in on the starboard side and sending spray onto the boat.  As we neared Lasqueti the wind veered from a beam reach onto the nose so we had to crack off and head toward Texada Island.  Once we found that shore we tacked our way SE up into Sabine Channel to finally find refuge between Lasqueti and Jedediah Island. We'd sailed 25 miles, taking about six hours to do so.  If we'd been a powerboat, we could have motored a straight line and made the trip in 15 miles. But hey, we are a sailboat and should sail whenever there is wind. Just think what we saved in diesel costs!

Pacific Grace

 As we came across the strait I saw on the AIS that Pacific Grace had also left Tribune Bay as was making her way south.  Just think of the team building experience those kids had launching those boats in the surf and pulling hard to get back to the mother ship.

Lasqueti and Texada Islands are right in the middle of the Strait of Georgia and serve as stepping stones for boats transiting from Vancouver Island to the mainland.  Between Lasqueti and Texada are a group of little islands that seem remote, but aren't. They have excellent anchorages.  We found our spot and spent a quiet night.  The next day I set out a shrimp trap in 200 feet of water and a crab trap in 50 feet then we went to work on projects.  The day before when Connie was stowing the staysail halyard she inadvertantly pulled the wrong end and it got lost inside the mast.  Now somebody had to go up the mast to drop a weighted line down inside the mast so we could re-run the halyard.  Normally the person named "somebody" is me.  However, there is an old saying "She who 'skies' the halyard, climbs the mast".  Nuts up the mast.JPG CB up the mast.JPG

It took a few tries but finally I was able to retrieve the line from inside the mast as Connie fed it in from the top. When I looked up I could see her way up there above the deck clenching the mast between her thighs like a vice. I'm darn proud of my wife for facing her fear of heights and scampering right up that mast.  And what a relief to have the halyard back in service!

While Connie continued work on her new song, I went back out in the dinghy to search for the shrimp trap and at long length found it just where I left it.  Empty.  Then the crab trap. Empty. With my head hanging low I stowed my traps, floats, and lines while my wife fried up some fresh oysters for dinner.  Then while bread was baking in the oven, we watched one of the new videos we'd scored from Hal and Kathy. Thanks, you two. Such nice people. They are Canadian, you know.

Lonely anchorage on Lasqueti
From Lasqueti we sailed across Malaspina Channel in a light southeast wind, flipping the jib out to the port side and the main out to the starboard side in a maneuver called "wing on wing". We sailed into Pender Harbor on the sunshine coast of British Columbia.  Oh my Dog, what a bunch of boats they had in there!  We tried to squeeze into Garden Bay but unless we'd be comfortable with a scope of 3 to 1 we'd not fit.  Then we tried near Wellborne Cove and fished up a bunch of rocks with the anchor.. grind, rumble, rumble.  I spied a Hans Christian 38 off to the south in Gerrans Bay and thought, "There is a kindred soul.  He'll know where to anchor".  We coasted by, engine off, and had a conversation with the Vancouver sailor who directed us around the corner where there was lots of room and a submerged wreck to avoid. 

While boiling two pots of water I hung various pieces of fabric around the cockpit creating a bit of privacy then got naked and had a wonderful bath/shower/cleanup there in the cockpit.  Connie followed suit and then we're both squeaky clean.  Me shaved. Fresh clothing on, ready for tomorrow when we go ashore to seek out the following:

Gasoline  ( for the dinghy )
Hydrogen Peroxide ( for a splinter in somebody's finger )
Prescription refill ( my rosacia is acting up )
Internet ( to post this blog entry )
Wine ( always )
Trash ( depositing, not acquiring )
Panko ( for all that seafood stuff we are catching )
Kale or Chard
Broccoli or Califlower
1/2 and 1/2 ( for my dear Connie's tea)

I look at the GPS trail and see that we sailed right by here ten months ago, making good time to cross the Strait of Georgia, bound for Nanaimo.  That was a different time, a different plan altogether.  What we did then in two days we now do in the opposite direction in five.  Taking life at ease. Meandering.

Pender Harbor, Gerrans Bay on the Sunshine Coast


  1. What a lovely journal-- I feel as if I have a true sense of your life right now! It helps that I am a little familiar with the islands. Keep on enjoying!
    With love, Jane

  2. Hola Scott and Connie!
    This is Dan and Tammy on Anjuli. We are in Brentwood Bay to visit Buchart Gardens - with the the boat. We will be heading north on Saturday, planning to circumnavigate the island this summer. Perhaps we will catch up to you (obviously we didn't make it to Cuba)!

  3. What a beautiful boat you have! I, too, have had my experiences with power boaters who just love to push their way through and send a nasty wave in my direction, and it did my heart good to hear that part of your story where the powerboats had to wait for the sails. Happy sailing, and thank you for sharing your stories.