49º37.69 N 124º01.31 W and how we got here

Provisioning aside we’re making steady northward progress. On Friday, July 18th at noon we crossed Juan de Fuca on a dependable breeze and a beam reach. Nice sun. A dearth of 1000 ft cargo ships in the lanes. The wind calmed down as we approached the San Juans and we found Cattle Pass calm as we motored through. The bouys on Turn Island being all taken we pulled into Friday Harbour for the night. The next morning we sailed up the channel to the northern most of the San Juans and stopped at Sucia Island. Yes, sucia is dirty but in a nautical rather than en environmental sense: you need a good chart to get into safe harbor.
When we arrived there were already a bunch of boats in Echo Bay – some folks we met from [the Portland Neighborhood of] Goose Hollow counted 99, most all sailboats. We dropped the anchor with the expected trepidation and when it took hold we were within closer spin range of a fine Vancouver 45-footer than we’d have liked. This led to much interrupted sleep between 11 pm and 5 am but to very good sleep between 5 am and 11 am, by which time we were able to nab a free buoy. To our delight another Valiant pulled up near by, the pilothouse version, of which fewer than 20 were built. Though lacking our extra space on deck and below, this is really the ideal boat for the Inside Passage and Alaska. And compared with the Hunter moored beside it, it clearly performs better under sail.
Dawn rose rosy as we pulled out and hoisted the sails. A nice southeast wind and on a broad reach gave us the chance to read and bliss out on the vast horizon of the middle of the Straight of Georgia. Kindle in hand, Jack even bought and received a new book and got a free sub to the Washington Post.
The sun calmed the wind just as we met the outflow of the Fraser River. Finally we were motoring across English Bay. As we rounded Stanley Park and headed into the First Narrows, a huge cruise ship suddenly appeared; no sooner were we under the Lion’s Gate Bridge than an even larger container ship charged forward, squeezing us to one side. Although trained harbor pilots are aboard these vessels, it’s strange that they are not required to be escorted by tugs. (The 60 mile fetch of open seas just beyond the narrows can bring unpredictable seas and winds.) But it must keep shipping costs down.

Customs was a snap – a phone call with boat name and number and our names. No passport info requested; they seemed to know us – homeland security everywhere, I guess. We simply write 20082030675 on a piece of paper and scotch tape it to a porthole. Upon tying up at Coal Harbor Marina next door to the customs dock, we called Frances Dodd but she was already en route home and was off the next day with sister Kika from Amsterdam to join the family in Williams Lake for Skander’s wedding. Checked email, announced safe passage, and invited local friends to an on board pot luck on Wednesday.

The next day Emily Coolidge, whom we’d last seen on Prince Edward Island, came by and over a bottle of Oregon wine let us know that Vancouver is even cooler than we’d suspected. She lives on the west side in Kitsilano and once sister Amanda leaves Nairobi, she’ll probably be her neighbor.

With duty keeping us close to the boat, we didn’t get out to visit friends or tour. But we had a wonderful reunion with Habib, Gulalai and Saeed who showed up our last night in Vancouver with a wonderful fish dish and a bag of goodies for the cruise. After supper, we pulled out our maps and guidebooks as they are going on vacation soon and we’d hoped to rendezvous. Lo and behold, reality set in! There are no roads reaching the coast where we’ll be sailing! Route 101 stops in Lund, just a few miles north of where we are now.
Right now we’re anchored in Garden Bay, in Pender Harbor, inside a maze of islands and inlets on the Sunshine Coast. We’ve finally got the dinghy in the water and will try to find a some wifi on shore. That’s it. This lovely wooden yawl just sailed past – time to be out on the water. (Wait a minute, we ARE out on the water.)


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.