Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Salish Sea Cruise Update #2 and Future Cruise Plan

The map shows our route thus far in blue and our future cruise plans in green.  Keep in mind that our plans may change, but this is what we think for now.

View Salish Sea Cruise Update in a larger map

Nanaimo via Dodd Narrows

The run from Pirates Cove to Nanaimo would take us through the notorious waters of Dodd Narrows, a narrow passage between Vancouver Island and De Courcy Island.  The narrowest point is only about 50 yards or in Canadian speak about 50 meters.  Tugs towing log booms and other commercial traffic frequently use the pass, so it can be a busy place.  Currents can run as much as 9 knots through the passage.  The guide book recommends passage at slack tide.  We will follow the recommendation.

With slack at 9:04 AM and Pirates Cove about 6 miles south, we needed to get up and get going early, departing at about 7:00 AM.  We arrived at the Narrows a little before slack. After a short time hovering and studying the current and oncoming traffic we decided it was time for us to head thru.  We were the only vessel heading north, the waters were basically calm and the transition was a non event. Popping out to the north we were in Naniamo.

Paul had decided this was a good spot to due some maintenance so dock time was in order. We changed oil on the Yanmar and the outboard Yamaha. The gear oil on the outboard was changed also. Talos IV received a good cleaning inside and on deck.  We explored the downtown a bit in search of lattes and wifi.

Upon doing our research for crossing the Strait of Georgia we realized we did not have charts for Vancouver Harbor and had a few other gaps as well, so our departure to Vancouver is on hold until we can buy the missing charts. Tomorrow we plan to leave the dock and seek anchorage at a marine park close by. Another trip uptown in the morning will hopefully take care of the missing chart issue…..

Chart update:  We were able to buy all of the charts we needed at this really great chart and book store in downtown Nanaimo.  Of course there was time for a latte before motoring across the harbour to Newcastle Island Marine Park.  A great park with some interesting history and wonderful hiking trails.  We spent the night there before heading out to Vancouver for an early morning departure across the Strait of Georgia.

The Nanaimo Bastion, a relic of the past.
They shoot cannons off every day at noon out front.

Newcastle Island Quary.

Newcastle Island Quary.
They built the San Francisco Mint from stone
quaried at this site.

Newcastle Island Marine Park.

Janet found time to take care of a little business.

Pirates Cove, Gabriola Island

We motored from Thetis mid morning, turning north after leaving Telegraph Harbor. The next stop was a very small marine park with a tricky entrance. We arrived prepared to anchor and stern tie. The other boats there were anchored…so we did the same. As we were making our approach to the cove we noticed a motor vessel coming up smartly behind us. It was our dock mates from Wallace…Derek and Jean on Navigator. We met up while hiking the island and agreed to a happy hour on Talos IV. The weather was really perfect and we swapped appetizers and stories.

The following morning we motored out early in order to catch Dodd Narrows at slack tide. 

Paul with the buried treasure!

Paul and Louie planning the next days adventure.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Telegraph Harbour, Thetis Island

With batteries badly in need of a full charge and both of us in need of a shower, we decided that we should head to a place where we could get a slip.  The marina at Telegraph Cove on Thetis Island was the perfect place to stop for a few days.

After our arrival, we spent the afternoon getting showered and doing laundry.  We also walked to the post office where we were expecting our mail to arrive that had been forwarded to us from Seattle.  Unfortunately our package had not arrived even though it had left Seattle nearly 5 days earlier.  Gwen, the post master was very helpful and suggested that she could forward the mail post office to post office at no charge to one of our next stops.  We wrote down her phone number and plan to have her forward it once it arrives.  We think Vancouver will be the place.

The following morning we woke early and caught the ferry to Chemainus, a small town on Vancouver Island.  It was a great outing which proved to be very productive.  Chemainus was formerly the site of the worlds largest lumber mill.  The mill is now much smaller and to fill the void left by the mill the town has commissioned local artists to paint murals on buildings throughout the town.  The murals tell stories of the towns history.  It was interesting to walk around and look at them.  We made stops at the hardware store for some propane canisters for the BBQ, the liquor store for beer, the grocery store to re-provision, the nursery so Janet could create an herb garden for the back of the boat, and of course the coffee shop for lattes before heading back to Thetis.

Later in the day one of the couples we had shared happy hour with on Wallace Island had just arrived on their  boat m/v Navigator a Camano Island Troller.  We were invited over to have dessert with them that evening.  Jean is a doctor who serves at least part time as the ships doctor for some of the National Geographic Expeditions to Antarctica and other places.  Derick, her husband was able to travel along with her.  He is an accomplished photographer and has recorded an excellent photo essay of their expedition to Antarctica, which he shared with us while we had dessert.  It was wonderful.

Today is Sunday and from 10 - noon there is a market in the shelters just above the marina.  We plan to make a stop there and then run up to the Island Market before our departure.  The Island Market is an honor market.  You simply select what you need, add up the price and leave your money in a box by the door.  It is open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.  An amazing system that works here on the island.

We will be off to Pirates Cove on De Courcy Island, just another few miles north.

Chemainus murals

m/v Navigator

Telegraph Harbour Marina, Thetis Island

Janet's herb garden

Conover Cove, Wallace Island

From Montague Harbour we motored only a few miles north to Conover Cove on Wallace Island.  The small island is entirely a Provincial Park and is located in the middle of the Trincomali Channel, a busy shipping and ferry route.  Based on everything we'd read about Conover Cove, we knew that it would be shallow and as we were arriving at close to low tide, we found the water under our keel to be only about 3 feet.  The park service had a small dock that could accommodate about four boats and as luck would have it there was space for us and one other that filled before the evening was over.

We put on our hiking shoes and walked the island from end to end.  One of the more interesting things was the former store that had previously been part of a small resort, which is now defunct.  Apparently the tradition is that each visitor leaves a piece of drift wood with the name of their boat and date of their visit at the store.  As you can imagine, the place was a drift wood menagerie, with pieces identifying boats that had past this way over the years.  Some were quite creative.  We of course had to add to the collection with a small piece of drift wood we found on he north end of the island.  Another interesting item was the now rusted out hulk of an old jeep in a meadow right in the middle of the island.  Keep in mind that there are no roads on the island.

Later that day we were invited to join the other boaters who had tied up at the dock for happy hour at the picnic tables on the dock.  It was great to share a few nibbles and cocktails and hear some of the stories of their experiences.

Montague Harbour, Galiano Island

Montague Harbor was great! We arrived around noon and executed a near perfect anchoring. This is a huge protected harbour that has a Marine Park off the NW end. There is a marina with food, supplies and a dinghy dock. The stop offered lots of hiking and some really friendly people.

The ladies at the Marina cafe fixed us some lunch and while dining we observed a medical evacuation by boat ambulance from the dock. Locals told us the only have a nurse practitioner 2 times per week for medical care. Occasionally they have a Locums doctor come in. Serious medical issues are transferred by boat to Victoria if they are urgent but not life threatening. If life threatening, the helicopter will come for faster transport to the hospital in Victoria.

We had several trips to the marine park for hikes. The shoreline holds lots of middens from Salish Indian camps. The weather was really almost perfect for exploring. The marina manager told us of a hike to the top of the ridge above the marine park. Access was on the paved road above the marina. We then transitioned to a private dirt road straight uphill to a new subdivision. The area had survey stakes for new home sites but not much activity otherwise. I guess with the economy not many people are buying cliff edge 180 degree view lots. The views were fantastic and well worth the hike.

Later that afternoon the weather was so nice that Paul even dragged one of the cushions from down below out to the cockpit and enjoyed a nap with the cats.  It was really a perfect day.

The morning of our departure I awoke to see the Bakery Barge had arrived and anchored! They had come in the evening before. The bakery is a 1929 motor ferry which a couple and their pug dog has made into their home and business. He maintains and motors the vessel, she bakes on board and sells the goodies at the bay Thursday – Sunday. As soon as the banner was placed declaring they were open we dinghyed over for some goodies.

The bakery has fantail seating (a table and umbrella), a very warm cozy kitchen with wood burning stove and oh!, the table was full of homemade pies (Dad, she had fresh strawberry rhubarb!), cinnamon rolls, scones, gorgeous cakes, cookies and homemade breads. We indulged, as fresh is always good. More dinghys were arriving as we departed.

The couple suggested we stop at the Telegraph Harbour Marina during our stay on Thetis Island when we needed a dock.

Louie enjoying the afternoon sun

Middens from the Salish Indians

The Bakery Boat had arrived!

Who could resist.

James Bay, Prevost Island

Leaving Ganges we had a quick motor thru Captains Passage to Prevost.  The island had 3 small coves, all subject to swell and winds from the NW. We tucked into James Bay as this was a BC Marine Park. It is the newest of the park holdings and very primitive. The anchoring was tight (small area) but we fit in between two other vessels. 

Janet rowed the dinghy to shore and found large quantities of oysters on the rocks. This was not good for landing as it would slice up the bottom of the inflatable. We rowed around the shoal to another landing site about 200 yards off and beached. The trail was not more than sheep track, and at points it completely disappeared into the bush. We wanted to go out to Peile Point on the NW corner of the island. After a few missteps we finally made it! Our prize was finding binoculars someone forgot some time ago. Note: if they are yours please identify the brand and we will return them.

The small bay allowed us a great evening rest and quiet time before moving on to Montague Harbour, Galiano Island.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Ganges Harbour, Saltspring Island

Ganges was a short hop with motor and no wind. Upon our arrival in the harbor we were met by at least 100+ sailboats positioning for the “Round Salt Spring Regatta”, a race which would start in 2-3 minutes. It was a real cluster. The race is an annual event where sailors have 24 hours to sail around the island, including passage through the notorious and rapid currents of Samson Narrows.  Many dropped out early and began to  filter back in throughout the day.  Winds and currents were just not in their favor.

We found a good spot to drop the anchor in the crowded anchorage and headed into town. What great timing! There was a fantastic farmers market…probably one of the better ones we have been to. We loaded up on artisan cheeses, fresh greens, fresh caught halibut and a decadent dessert. Paul bought me a fleece mini skirt and woolie leggings. It seems this is the look around here for spring. All I know is it was very warm and easy to layer over my long underwear. The live music was also good in Ganges. They had a Bob Dylanfest to celebrate Bob’s 70th birthday. We were able to enjoy the venue for two nights at the historic Treehouse Coffee House by the wharf.

We hated to leave this great little harbor. We are headed to Prevost Island in the morning.

Janet sporting her new fleece mini and woolen leggings
Janet with an old bouy.
Bob fest in honor of Dylan's 70th B-day
Ganges farmers market
The dinghy dock

Portland Island

The morning winds were up as we departed Genoa. 10 – 18 knot winds carried us down Satellite Channel with full cutter rig flying. Talos IV was in her element. It took several well timed tacks to get around Saltspring Island, but finally we were headed into Portland for the night.

This was our first opportunity to do a stern tie.  With a little help from our neighbor, who happened to be on shore at the time, we managed to drop the anchor, back down and run a line to shore using the dinghy.  There were ready made rings imbedded in the rock wall specifically for this purpose.  It is a great way to virtually eliminate any swinging and allow for relatively close anchoring of other boats.

Portland Island seemed to offer a lot of options for hiking when we researched the guide books. Upon our arrival the surge was bothersome and the noise from passing mega go fast boats was an annoyance. The flight pattern for the airport in Sidney was also over the Island.

Paul forgot to put on his hiking boots before we departed in the dinghy for the trails. The recent weather had made the footpaths very sloppy with mud and more mud. We made short of our adventure and returned to the boat. Tomorrow could not come soon enough.

The next stop is Ganges on Saltspring Island……

Genoa Bay

We had a wonderful visit to the gardens the morning of the 19th. The spring bulbs were in full bloom, with the color combinations that Butchart is so famous for. The destination for this day was Genoa Bay, so we could not hang out too long.

Leaving Butchart Cove we motored around the corner to check out Todd Inlet. It is another option for overnight anchoring if the Butchart buoys are full. The inlet was much protected and would certainly be an option in the future.

Winds were light as we headed toward Cowichan Bay.  Genoa Bay is just west of the Samsun Narrows passage as you head toward Cowichan. We found a great anchorage, dinghyed to the dock and enjoyed our first dinner ashore. The café is a gourmet spot which features local offerings. Tonight the halibut took top honors. The bay is also home to a lot of artistic funk. The dock has art displays by a local artist hung on boat houses, The new bathrooms are surrounded by art, as well. This was a nice little stop over…but we had to keep moving on.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Port Browning, N. Pender Island to Butchart Cove

We departed Port Browning after a short hike into the village to fuel up on lattes and fresh fruit. This was a nice stop. The stopover had great showers, good laundry facilities and nice people and a wonderful bakery in the village. The wifi signal was strong for the dock….unfortunately we were too tired to watch a movie on streaming netflix.

The plan was to head south round the Penders and end up in Saanich Inlet. We had read that Butchart Gardens offered free moorage with visitation to the property. Butchart has always been a favorite of ours, and the spring plantings are something we have an interest in.  The concern was there are only 4 free mooring balls….and we are on the leading edge of a big celebratory weekend for Canadians (Victoria Day).

The winds and current were with us today. We set sail around Moresby Island with 10+ kts. Beam reach gave us 5+ kts SOG and perfect balance. At one point Paul left the helm and was fussing around on deck….when he returned Talos IV was still on course. I had been watching for deadheads and traffic assuming she was on “auto”. What a treat!!!  We are so pleased with her balance and ease.

Upon approach to the mooring site we passed a beautiful old sailing ship. Lots of canvas and wind…she was beautiful.

The real treat was pulling into the small (SMALL) little inlet at Butchart Gardens. We had planned for a full house and already decided on an alternate anchoring site just in case. To our surprise the balls were wide open! We grabbed a ball, lit the bar-b-que and opened the wine. I think this has been the best day so far. 

Tomorrow we (Paul) will row 20 yards over to the dinghy dock at Butchart Gardens. We expect to hang out for a few hours taking in the beauty of the gardens and then head out of Saanich northbound to Cowichan Bay and Genoa Bay, where we hope to drop anchor for the night.

Paul on his way to check out sailors entrance to Butchart Gardens

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Salish Sea Cruise Update

Now that we are two weeks into our adventure, I thought I'd include a map that shows our route and stops thus far.  They include in this order, Port Townsend, Roche Harbour on San Juan Island, Reid Harbour on Stuart Island, Jones Island, Echo Bay on Sucia Island, Butchart Cove and Genoa Bay, both on Vancouver Island, and Ganges on Salt Spring Island.  We are currently at Ganges and have found the first wifi hotspot in a few days.  A great place to spend a couple of days.  Tomorrow we are off to Prevost Island for one night and then on to Montague Harbor on Galiano Island.  We plan to spend a couple of nights there.

You should be able to click on the map and navigate around to get a closer look at things.

Have fun!

View Salish Sea Cruise Update in a larger map

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Slug Encounters

For those who are familiar with the Northwest, you know that slugs are a common sight.  That said, until you've been to the San Juan and Gulf Islands, you've really not seen slugs.  These are just a few of the encounters thus far.  We will try to update this blog entry with more interesting slug encounters as they occur.

Canada, eh!

We passed the boundary line today en-route from Sucia to Pender.  Clearing customs was a simple matter of calling the Canadian Customs and Border Patrol.  Using our Nexus, Trusted Visitor Card, made the process so much easier.  They have the right to meet you at the dock and inspect your boat, but when we arrived there was no agent in sight.  We will be in Canadian waters for the next several months until we head south at the end of the summer.

There are no pictures to upload, but it was a beautiful passage, under sunny skies.  A surprisingly strong ebb current was pulling us to the south and we were literally heading due north by north west to make a westerly passage.  This was a lesson that currents can not be taken lightly.  There were many places where whirlpools set up and if you got too close they could spin the boat around.  They are powerful and can, if one is not careful, get you into trouble.

Crew Update

For those wondering about the fury crew, they are doing just fine.  As you can see they spend most of their time sleeping.  They have become increasingly brave at each of our progressive stops.  First poking their heads out the companion way door and then slowly going out in to the cockpit and now at Pender, Louie has been venturing off the boat on to the dock.  He has specific instructions that there is to be no shore leave, but that seems to matter little.  This will become an increasing issue as we proceed north.  The only thing they don't like is motoring.  Louie hides under the blanket in the v-berth and Tia hunkers down on a blanket we've placed on the floor in the head.  It is pretty noisy down below, so I guess you can't blame them.  Our hope is that they will eventually come out into the cockpit and enjoy the ride with us.

Sucia Island

We delayed our departure from Jones Island until late morning. Rain was steady with good visibility. We had a 1.5 kt current holding us back for the first 30 minutes of passage via Presidents Channel.  The ebb finally let go of us and the SOG built steadily to 6 kts carrying us over to Sucia Island.

Talos IV is on a mooring ball tonight. We dingyed to shore at Echo Bay and hiked or should we say slogged our way to the southern point in a drenching rain. Saw lots of geese and goslings, slugs and several sea otters. Tonight we consumed the last “Debra’s Pie”. Debra makes the best chicken pie and sells them at the farmers market in Ballard. We will have to come up with a new tradition for Sunday nights until October.

It was such a peaceful place and we felt that our pace thus far had been fairly hectic so we decided to stay a second night.  Having never dropped the anchor on Talos before, we thought this would be a good time to give it a try.  We threw the mooring ball off mid day and motored about a 100 yards to the center of the bay and dropped the anchor in about 25 feet of water.  The winds were ripping at the time at about 20 knots, so we were concerned that dragging would be an issue.  We set an anchor alarm and decided to stay on the boat the balance of the day.  In the end we had no issues and the wind died off toward evening, leaving us swinging peacefully at anchor in an incredibly beautiful spot.

Tomorrow we are off to Pender Island, our first Canadian stop.