Up the Coast of British Columbia

When we left on the 14th of July after an impossibly busy week that left me on a wave of exhaustion. Thanks to Kinza crewing across the fairly notorious Straits of San Juan de Fuca and Georgia, I could help a bit with the sails and then fall fast asleep on them once they were down. Vancouver was great. We moored downtown again but on the funky side of town near the Granville Bridge. Gulalai, Habib, Saeed, Hala, Frances and Philip, who took Kinza away, all came down to the docks.

Then Jack and I set off again across the Strait of Georgia only to run into impossibly thick fog once we hit Gulf Islands. In Boundary Channel the kindly pilot of a 400 ft vessel moving at 14 knots caught us in his radar and gave us a safe heading. We managed to find our way to safe harbor and dropped our hook and relaxed, enjoyng solar power but no other intrusions. All the fewer after I lost my cell phone on a tumble on a slippery slope during a short hike into the Gulf Islands National Marine Park. Finally we were able to creep into Victoria where it simply went cold and rain, complete unseasonable, early “Fogust,” not July.

We flew across Georgia again in 25 knots on a single tack and explored Howe Sound, where in Vancouver’sback yard 10,000 ft peaks rise from sea. Next a sunny long zigzag up to Pender Harbour and Fisherman’s Marina. Dave was again on the docks to greet us just like last year. Crature comforts in a “green” marina and nice surprises all around. The first night, Bill Thompson, the 80 year old restorer of a 1938 open cockpit single float biplane, gave an air show in the setting sun. The next night, his tug boat did the rounds with a live concert by 8 member bagpipe band.

Back to the wilderness, up Jervis inlet to Princess Lousia Inlet, a secret fjord with mountains rising straight out of the sea. A sky full of sun and mist. A once in a blue moon eperience and there was a blue moon to boot. But no radio, no telephone, no electricity, no news, no email, no place whatsoever to spend money.

We’d expected Princess Louisa – one of the world’s great destinations for sailors – to be crowded, but it was blissfully empty.

No so on the Vancouver Island side of the Strait of Georgia. After our fourth and final crossing after having spent a number of nights on the hook, we just wanted to pull up at Nanaimo Public Wharf. But there wasn’t a space and the bay opposite was so full we gave up our attempts to anchor outside of swinging range of other boats. So we gave up on this nice town.

At 6 pm we passed through the very narrow Dodd Narrows on a slack, after waiting for tugs to pull and push a large log boom through in the opposite direction. At 8 pm, with a dazzling sunset before us, we pulled into the delightful Ladysmith Harbour and radioed successfully for moorage at a marina.

Today we dinghied past the log booms and the saw mill to dock at the foot of forested hill on which sits a gem of a little town. Jack slept in the dinghy while I went up the hill to the 49th Parallel Grocery for some fresh lettuce, tomatoes and fruit. Then we went on to Montague Harbour Marine Park – where I was reunited with my cell phone thanks to helpful park staff.
The next day we sailed down past Active Pass and entered US waters just north of Stuart Island Marine Park, the northern most of the San Juans. As we pulled into the bay, we were greeted by two tall ships,the Hawaiian Chieftain and the Lady Washington.

We snagged a bouy on Turn Island and rocked and rolled in the wake of Friday Harbor ferries as a strong reluctance to return set in. But in a weather window the next morning we slowly made out way out Cattle Pass, into Juan de Fuca and home to Port Hadlock.


Author: Carol McCreary

10 Inside Passages to Alaska. 10,000 miles. 10,000 hours on the S/V Aurora. This is the story of how Jack and I took up sailing late in life and are now finally getting the hang of it.

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