Vancouver Island Circumnavigation (in less than 10 minutes)

For an abridged version of our summer cruise, we’ve put together short slideshows. They feature music composed by Jack the Skipper, photos by the First Mate and words by both of us.

From Port Townsend to Cape Scott
West Coast of Vancouver Island


Daily Sailing Log – First Fortnight of June 2011

June 5    Point Wilson behaves and we sail across Juan de Fuca. Speed up Cattle Pass and tie up at Friday Harbor. Talk to skipper of schooner Spike Africa. Tour town on foot (amazed at sheer number of public restrooms but that’s another story). Grab a couple of chops from the supermarket and as I’m cooking them a guy pulls up in kayak, later in sailboat, joining us for supper. Fast talking Alaska fisherman called Ike. Gets $20 cash in return for an iffy check and his story of saving Barbara his Jack Russell in the middle of Juan de Fuca and losing wallet and credit cards in the process.

Neighbor boats

June 6 Cross Boundary channel and put up the Canadian pennant. Pass customs at Poet’s Cove in Bedwell Harbour before sailing on to Galiano Island. Tie up on a buoy in Montague Harbour with a view of anchored neighbors: A red sloop, a troller, an antique schooner and the bakery – fresh bread, pies, and cinnamon buns to tempt the crews of the dozens of boats here in a few weeks. Marine Park attendant comes around in a dinghy to collect the $12, saving us the trouble of inflating ours. Start Farmers of Forty Centuries and put away some of the stuff in the V-berth. Lovely sunset.

June 7 We scrape bottom going out because we are trusting memory rather than the chart. Motor up west coast of Galiano to Proiler Pass, arriving at slack. Cross Strait of Georgia with all sails out catching southwesterlies and arriving English Bay on one tack. Bay is brown, probably both the Fraser and local streams. Lady Washington appears from the south, motoring. Lions Gate waters very ruffled but no problem. Tie up in C65 at Coal Harbour. Deal with email in pm. Announce arrival to Poonam and Arvind and to the Habibs. Walk the waterfront past the spectacular new Convention Center with its ecoroof and signs telling wonderful stories. First visit to Gastown. Supper under a heat lamp in a sidewalk pub. Jack has halibut chips, I opt for the wild mushroom penne. Delicious.

June 8 Long walk day. We take the Burrard bus over the bride to Kits and visit the Maritime Museum. It’s home to the St. Roch, the RCMP ship that made a two year voyage through the Northwest Passage in 1944, only the second ship to do so after Admunsen. Several years ago the museum sponsored a rerun: they made it in 27 days thanks to the intervening meltdown. Museum is good, basic. Lady Washington and Hawaiian Cheiftan are both tied up at modest docks. Eschew cute False Creek taxi to come back along the path. Pass Shakespeare Festival under lovely tents and opt to take the bus back and of course do the waterfront again. Can’t find a place in the sidewalk cafe near the seaplane base so go back to the boat. Besides the Canucks are losing. We know they do when the evening passed without horns honking.

June 9 Haul the dinghy out and inflate it expecting it to go limp: it doesn’t. Don’t know why it did last fall at Longbranch. Put together all of my Sustainable P work for Jim Cotner in hopes he can do something with it, though Tim Crews’ recommendation on Farmers of Forty Centuries is at least as interesting as 18th century sanitation infrastructure. Arvind and Poonam show up with an early supper of sag paneer and cumin potatoes and stay the evening. Thinking Frances might know a Saraiki-language librarian, we call and invite her over. She’s busy – playing in a professional string quintet – and so we agree to meet in Victoria in late July.

Gulalai and Habib

June 10 Take the SkyTrain out to Burnaby to see the Habibs. Stop by and say hello to her Mom. They absolutely love Burnaby. Really rooted. Sold their house to a developer and now are renting but have bought a beautiful new house which they are renting to former owners. Walk around Deer Lake with yellow iris in bloom and white blossoms ready to pop on lilly pads. Somehow after arriving back home, we are seated at a splendid dinner. Gulalai knows how to organize and time things. We are introduced to Osh, a soup of meat, coarsely chopped vegetables, mushrooms, spaghetti, and thickened with karout, a semi solid fermented, garlicky cheese made of goats milk. Gulalai gets it from a Persian shop and of course sends us how with a bottle, along with homemade pickles and a cake sent over by Mom. As ordered we arrive empty handed and return full handed.

June 11  Early departure for the Sunshine Coast where the entry to Pender Harbour seems as unfamiliar as ever. But Fisherman’s Marina is as familiar as ever. Dave and Jennifer greet us on the docks. At 10 pm I’m talking to all the people assembled at the Sheraton Karachi to celebrate the 20th anniversary of KZR. Imran gives a very heartwarming little speech on my contribution to the founding of the Development Division and I am somewhat at a loss for words. But, not quite sure Skype will work, I have sent some thoughts ahead in an email.

June 12  I beg a day’s lingering. Finish up the emails, delegate PHLUSH tasks, fix the website a bit. In the afternoon we hear some good music at the Garden Bay Cafe before taking a walk along the lake. When we get really old we should just moor there at Fisherman’s for a month.

Squirrel Cove sunset

June 13   Under sail we run up the coastpast Powell river and Lund, where Route 1 comes to an utter and final end.   We take the chance to try out the Monitor Windvane then bring it in and reef.  While reefing the sail catches in the clip of the lazy jacks and I fear it has caught a thread; it hasn’t and an easy fix is to reverse the direction of the clips.  Will also remind Lisa, our rigger who designed the otherwise-brilliant jacks to make sure they get installed right.  Finally we sail into Desolation Sound, splendid and desolate, Mt. Denman towering behind, white with snow, jagged, unsmoothed by later ice ages. We tie up at the public dock, run by the tribes, supported by Fisheries at Squirrel Cove.

Waiting for tide at Big Bay

June 14 Pre-six am departure for the rapids. Hurry up and wait. Passed by Mary Grace, a trawler from PT that ties up on D dock. Enter the rapids 20 minutes before dead low slack. Piece of cake. But no time until high slack for the other ones so we go on into Big Bay. Tie up at the Stuart Island Community Dock, supported by Transportation. Empty except for old wooden tug, southbound, inhabited by family with 30 year old memories of lots of salmon and good times. Now Big Bay is on the one hand ramshackle and on the other fancy fly in fishing lodges. A private helicopter lands nearby as I finally sink into an afternoon of reading and writing. Three some hours into our stay, the flood runs our mooring lines taught and roaring rapids fill the soundscape. Then just before it turns to an ebb we fight through the whirlpools of Gaillard and pass the Dent Islands on a mirror sea. This is the most lovely part of the trip. At the intersection of Codero Channel and Nodales Channel and Frederick Arm, it starts to pour. An hour later we are in struggling sun, tying up at the public dock at our beloved Shoal Bay, opposite Philips Arm, or as Jack call it, my “screen saver.”   I try my hand at cooking Afghan “osh,” using the karout goat’s milk paste that Gulalai gave us.  Roger, a Shoal Bay volunteer and inhabitant of a ketch he built himself comes by with a nice dog and some of the news. Seems the dog belongs to Mark MacDonald’s wife, the widow of a close friend. The most eligible bachelor of the coast is now a married man.

June 15  A rest day. I just can’t rouse myself out of bed until 8:30 am. The snows are still way below the tree line on the hills at the head of Philips Arm and things are busy at the Shoal Bay settlement. Kelly and his wife are back for what must be at least five seasons. He’s helping frame the roof of the new house Mark is building. Kelly’s wife is tossing around flag stones on the path to the laundry and shower, Roger is rebuilding the boardwalk and the woman pushing a mower through too tall grass (must be the first dry day in a while) turns out to be Cindy, the new bride. She is lovely and loves wintering at Shoal Bay. (Lots on Shoal Bay on blog in 2008 and 2009 blogs-will get links in here soon.)  The rest of the day doesn’t go as well.   The Canucks lose game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals on home territory and I realize I have been very stupid.  Returning to the boat, I linger on the dock talking with Jack who’s sitting in the late day sun reading, the wake of a now-invisible boat bounces Aurora’s stern and I realize our inflatable dinghy is at risk.  Just as I prepare to rescue it, the Monitor Windvane slashes through its bow!   I pull it up on dock.   We’ve got a patch kit but the patches are 4 inches in diameter and the slash is  a six inch vertical tear.   Jack suggests gluing on a piece of the bike inner tube we use to bungie his scooter and the ladder to the deck.  Fortunately I check with Roger who points out that glues and patches are very specific and advises reading the manual.  But he recommends something not in the manual: if the breech is large, patch from the inside.   We spend the rest of the evening in the painstakingly gluing two overlapping rounds inside the tear.  At least it isn’t raining.  We roll up the dinghy and let it cure on deck.



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.)