Four days of fine breezy days have taken us from Port Hadlock all the way north to Comox, in the middle of the east coast of Vancouver Island. Here’s how we got here.
Day 0: Turn key departure and land transfer. Doesn’t count on cruise log. But still… Cleaned up the apartment so it’s presentable for Scott, Douja and Inez when they visit from Tunisia, threw the leftovers from the fridge into a cold box, and hopped into the car for the ride along the spectacularly beautiful Hood Canal to Port Hadlock. Always good to chat with neighbors on the docks in Aurora’s home marina. It’s been a long winter and we’re all ready.
Filled the bilge with additional provisions while waiting for high tide so I could get the dinghy out. She’s been tied up all winter in a little otherwise unusable space between the outermost dock and the seawall. I’ve visited T/T (tender to) Aurora regularly to bail her out but it’s been nearly a year since she had her bottom properly wiped. We thought about using a halyard to bring her up on the dock but our live aboard neighbors Doug and Sandi were broiling steaks, concluding a work party on their antique wooden trawler Vicki V. So not to disgust them with the proceedings, I laboriously (dirty bottoms are hell) rowed to shore, hauled the dinghy up halfway onto the tidal muck, pulling a top -of-the-tibia muscle in the process, and turned her over. From her bottom I scraped off a four inch eco system, home to tough bivalves, squishy tomato-like creatures which exploded in my face and really creepy six inch long millipedes. Exhausting.
Day 1: Early departure from Port Hadlock under cloudy skies. Point Wilson as obstreperous as ever. Things didn’t settle down much at all as we crossed the Juan de Fuca Strait but at least the sun came out. We pitched and rolled and yawled but the winds nonetheless moved us though it at 6 knots. Pretty much the whole way I felt sick, but pleasantly, dreamily so, stretched out on the deck catching the rays in my down parka and fleece lined hat, ear flaps down. Jack was of course in perfect form as always, even though he’d drunk the same boxed cabernet that had been languishing in the bilge, seal broken since the last trip.
We flew past Victoria and sailed up San Juan Island to the tiny, not very deep Mitchell Bay, populated with happy kayakers. It’s shallow finger of water and I was tired. Not thinking too clearly, I misjudged the length of the anchor chain. In the late long afternoon, before we’d finished our G&Ts, we noticed we were dragging anchor. So we pulled it up and motored into the small Snug Harbor Marina just adjacent. After a supper of Portland leftovers and a good night’s sleep, I spent and hour the next morning on an unfinished task: pulled out the entir
e anchor chain, marked it at 25 foot intervals with plastic ties, swept two summer of mud out of the chain locker and put it back, ready to go.
Day 2: By 8 am we were under sail under clear skies and perfect winds, rounded San Juan, Spiden and Stuart Islands before heading out into Boundary Channel, where Jack insisted on a proper flag ceremony.
We stopped at Bedwell Harbour on South Pender Island and cleared customs. No sign of the little blue Sea Robin and sailor friend Nelson Walker from Victoria, so we just carried on.
The wind was absolutely perfect all day. First we thought we’d stop at a favorite anchorage on Prevost Island but it was too early and the weather too perfect.
So we went right on to Montague Harbor, a truly fine Provincial Marine Park, which provides an enclosed shelter save for a gap in the high cliff that left us bathed in sun right up until it set, spectacularly, about 9 pm over the water and the islands beyond.
Day 3: Early departure. Oatmeal with cranberries en route. Dreamy stillness. No wind so we motored, with the intention of spending the day at Pirates Cove waiting for slack in Dodd Narrows. But as we passed Porlier Pass between Galiano and Vladez Islands, we checked our tide tables and realized we were coming up on dead slack. So we turned east into the great Georgia Strait rather than winding our way through the islands. It was very still so we proceeded with the “iron genny” arriving in Namaimo about 3 pm. Delighted to be in port that had been too crowded for us to stay the past two summers, we pulled up to the same dock where we’d first come with the Acquitted in 2006 and ODd on fish and chips in the Fisherman’s Market next to us.
Day 4: Feeling great. Yep. Sea sickness is only a Day 1 or 2 thing. Then it’s gone! Today on our 11 hour journey to Comox we had the pitching-rolling-yawling conditions similar to Day 1 on Juan de Fuca Strait, but no prob. I finished off overdue reading – the last two months of NW Examiner, the whole ReDirect Guide and even went below deck to cook three days of meals.