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


Gulf Islands Victory Lap and Return to Port Townsend

 July 24 Woke up from a desperately needed sleep to voices in many languages on the Victoria waterfront.  Cleaned up the boat a bit, threw together a tuna salad from leftovers and provisions, and managed to get the laundry done just as Selena arrived with Amanda and Jeff. Everyone was in a celebratory mood. The advent of uncompromisingsummer sun had coincided with the weekend. Selena had just filed a big case against the State of California and was taking a break. We were resting on our laurels.

Over lunch we asked Selena if she wanted to do the Olympics or the Gulf Islands. She opted to stay in Canada and she and Amanda took off to get groceries, which are fairly distant from Victoria docks.

Once we knew we’d be in Victoria on Friday we called Erica and invited her for Sunday or Friday. Since Skander was there with 11 year old Evaan and 3-year old Nora, we decided to hang out on the boat and called Mona and Nelson to join us. The food Selena and Amanda brought from a nearby take out was delicious, though there was a misunderstanding over who wanted fish and chips (ie halibut and wedge fries) and who didn’t care. Swept up in the sudden return to civilization and its temptations, I made a bit of a fuss and ended up eating Erica’s halibut.

The cockpit was rather crowded and our view of the bay was blocked by the Attessa IV a 330 foot plus luxury yacht of unknown ownership being polished and provisioned by a uniformed crew. But the sun was heavenly and we a nice view of the waterfront and all the people gawking at the big boat and having their picture taken in front of it. Of course, Erica, who always lavishes us with hospitality, insisted that we all come for supper on Friday, exactly the trouble we’d been trying to save her.

July 25   Nothing is more dramatic than entering and exiting Victoria Harbour. First we had to get out of the dock; that went flawlessly and Jack backed out leaving unscathed the two historic live aboard ships near which we’d portside tied. We just missed the Coho, the car ferry from Port Angeles, which actually backs halfway out of the harbor without even a small tug assisting. Selena took the helm as a float plane landed parallel, a water taxis crossed in front and boats pulled in and out of the fuel dock.

Confused and confusing waters rocked and rolled us as soon as we made it out but once we turned and got our sails into the wind it was a blast, at least until the ebb outpaced the wind in the boundary channel past Stuart, where we were unable to stop because we had not passed US customs. At Bedwell Harbor there was a single buoy, one near the cliff, which we nabbed in a single stroke. Selena was impressed.

July 26   The last time we’d stuck our nose into Ganges Harbour, it was so busy and so churned that we turned around and dropped anchor in the lovely west-facing Annette Inlet on Prevost Island. So this time we were determined to at last see one of the regions coolest little towns and Salt Spring Island. While we were dodging the crab pots, a suddenly fouled depth sounder showed 5.5 feet under our keel. Unnerving but wrong. We followed the chart, radioed the marina and came in comfortably on an end dock. The number of empty slips on this beautiful mid summer day confirmed the light number of cruisers this summer. This year sailboats reign. And differences in gas prices, the values of the dollars, and the cost of moorage make it advantageous for Canadians to head to the San Juans and Puget Sound this year.

Our arrival coincided with the weekly farmers market, small but exceptionally interesting despite the retarded season. We filled our bag and Selena did up several dishes of fresh veggies.

July 27  Selena and I wanted to hike but the trailhead eluded us and when we finlly found a little travelled road, we took it and found a delightful vineyard with a attesting room and a picnic table for lunch. The reliance of Salt Spring Islanders on their cars and their indifference to sidewalks made the otherwise lovely place feel like any other rural suburb anywhere.

The high point of Ganges was the circus on a sailboat. Well, that’s how it translates into the vernacular. La Loupiout  is from France, home to a young family. The parents are comédiens-danseurs-acrobats-funambules-mimes. They’ve created two completely different spectacles, one at 5:30 and another at 7:30. More when I get the pictures.  Delighted to see that they are coming to Port Townsend on August 20-22!

July 28 We departed Ganges at a little after 6 for a dreamy ride though the islands in the early morning sun. Selena appeared just as we turned in toward Victoria. We got an end tie near the entrance (opposite what they call Mary Tod Island Park) and watched the boats come and goIn the afternoon, Jack and I made our regular visit to the Maritime Museum, marveling over the Tillicum, the cedar canoe in which Voss cruised to far parts of the earth at the turn of the last century.

July 29 Morning reading on the boat. Afternoon at the museum. Supper at Erica’s. Frances missed her ferry from Vancouver and arrived late so we stayed late. Said good bye to Selena whom Mona dropped at Amanada’s so she could fly home the next day.

July 30 We left Oak Bay early but found good wind once we took the waves on our quarter sailing way out to the south east before jibing toward Cattle Pass. At Friday Harbor a young customs official found we had “prohibited items” and boarded with me to remove three perfectly ripened tomatoes, one kiwi and an anonymous apple. They found my passport funny – clumsy consular officer in Casablanca used white out! – and the infraction went on the record.

Next we went to the fuel dock and survived a remarkable jam of boats at the fuel dock, whale watchers and the Victoria Clipper arriving just as the car ferry was departing. Friday Harbor beautifully chaotic but it all seems to work out.

July 31. Best sail of the trip and most interesting destination. Home port of Port Townsend. A single tack took us from Cattle Pass to Hudson Point. All we did was adjust a couple of degrees and the amount of sail. A fitting finale to a great cruise.