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A tale of whales, dolphins, great sailing, racing in a major regatta, four crossings of the Strait of Georgia, sun and wind.
I purchased my 1981 Tanzer 26 "Lady Fox" in November 1998, when she was already covered in her winter tarpaulin, on her trailer at a friend's acreage. When Spring of 1999 arrived, the first thing I had to do was to prepare my old boat "Cindy Lou" for sale, and to find a buyer for her. This delayed work on "Lady Fox" until June, when I was able to wave "Cindy Lou" a sad farewell, and make my driveway clear for more boat work.
Since I intended to move the boat a considerable distance by trailer, I first had to make sure that the trailer was in good working order. This meant replacing the spring bushings and the bearings, as well as light bulb replacement and wiring repairs. Then I had to install a heavy-duty drawbar to the trailer hitch on my V8 Jeep Grande Cherokee and an electric brake controller.
Once this was all complete, I could start work on the boat. It was previously owned by my friends Paul and Maggie, and Paul had started work on a dual-battery system. I completed this installation, and checked all the wiring in the boat while I was at it. This is a good way to get to know a new boat, as it means crawling around the entire insides. Once I had finished the electrical work, I polished the whole boat by hand. When this was finished, I felt I knew my way around the boat quite well. I then put a coat of VC-17 on the bottom where required, and sanded the teak and applied coats of Cetol. She has rather a lot of teak, as the cockpit floor and seats are all beautifully finished with narrow teak planks. By now, "Lady Fox" looked very good.
She's equipped with a 9.9HP four-stroke Yamaha engine with remote controls and electric start. I ran the engine in a large drum of water to make sure that all was well with the motor.
On June 16th, 1999, I started on my journey. My home is in Sherwood Park, Alberta, just east of Edmonton, and my destination was Crescent Beach, BC, which is north of White Rock, not far from the international boundary. I stayed overnight at Clearwater, BC and arrived at Crescent Beach about 2:30 the following afternoon.
Paul and Maggie (the previous owners of "Lady Fox") had now moved to the coast, where they live in Richmond. They keep their newly-acquired C&C 27 "Con Amore" in Point Roberts, Washington. "Con Amore" is now for sale, by the way, and a very fine boat it is. Paul and Maggie have succumbed to the well-known sailors' disease "two-foot-itis", but this is a bad case, it's more like "five-foot-itis".
For those of you not familiar with the geography around the Boundary Bay area, Point Roberts is an unusual place. It is the tip of the Tsawwassen peninsula, which happens to dip just south of the 49th parallel. This puts Point Roberts in the United States, even though it's accessible by land only from Canada. Point Roberts has a large marina and several pubs which are used mainly by Canadians.
Paul came to the Crescent Beach marina to help me rig and launch "Lady Fox". A couple of helpful fellows working on their Catalina 27 helped us lift the mast, and we were soon using the launch ramp to put "Lady Fox" into salt water for the very first time. With the exception of a couple of weeks at Cold Lake, Alberta, "Lady Fox" has spent her entire life at Lake Wabamun, a few miles west of Edmonton. I have moored close to "Lady Fox" at the Sunshine Bay Yacht Club on Lake Wabamun since 1989, and was pleased to eventually have the opportunity to purchase her.
On the morning of June 18th we were ready to go sailing!
June 18th. Crescent Beach to Point Roberts
After topping-off the gas tank and buying ice for the ice-box, I left Crescent Beach at 11:30 AM. My departure was delayed a little, as there is a railway bridge across the entrance to the marina which has to be opened to allow boats to pass. There was a train approaching just when I was ready to leave, so I had to wait for the Amtrak train from Seattle to Vancouver to pass before the bridge could be opened. I then made my way very cautiously out of the marina and across Boundary Bay towards the Strait of Georgia.
Boundary Bay is shallow, with marks which must be followed carefully. I progressed very slowly through the marked channel towards the Strait. When I finally arrived in the open waters of the Strait of Georgia, a check of the tide tables made me doubt whether I would be able to make slack tide in Active Pass, on the far side of the Strait. I decided that I would stay on the mainland side, rather than attempt Active Pass with the possibility of a five-knot current against me. The only place I could go was Point Roberts, which was a little inconvenient, as I had to clear U.S. customs there, and then I would have to clear back into Canada again the next day.
I had a nice sail (running and broad-reaching) to Point Roberts, although the following sea was rather uncomfortable. I found my way into the marina, where I cleared U.S. customs and took moorage at the visitors' dock. I phoned Paul to let him know where I was, as we had arranged to meet at Saturna Island the next day. He said he'd meet me at the Point Roberts fuel dock at 8:00 in the morning.
June 19th. Point Roberts to Winter Cove
I left Point Roberts in company with "Con Amore" at 8:30 AM, and we crossed the Strait together. This was a fine crossing, as we sailed on a beam reach most of the way. The wind died as we approached the Gulf Islands near the entrance to Active Pass, and we motored through the pass. This was the first time I have ever sailed through Active Pass and, sure enough, we met two large ferries and one smaller inter-island ferry there. There were no problems, though, and we were soon through to the other side. Paul and Maggie then turned down Navy Channel to go to Winter Cove on Saturna Island, while I had to find a Canadian port of entry. Paul and Maggie have invested in a "CanPass" which allows them to clear back into Canada by telephone, either while underway or before leaving the U.S.; I had to go to Bedwell Harbour on South Pender Island to clear Canadian customs. I arrived there at 1:15 PM, cleared customs, bought some beer and topped-off the fuel tank.
At 1:45 PM I was back on my way. I motor-sailed around the south of South Pender Island and up Plumper Sound. I arrived off Lyall Harbour and started looking for the entrance to Winter Cove. The cruise guides contain warnings about Minx Reef, which is on the way into Winter Cove. To be quite sure that I had it right, I took a fix and determined the magnetic bearing I needed to pass through the opening in the reef. Another sailboat was there as well, taking just as much care as I was. It appeared that we both wanted the other one to go through first!
I slowly motored into Winter Cove, with a good view of the many sea-lions lounging on the exposed rocks of the reef. I found Paul anchored in the cove, and was soon rafted up beside him.
There was a group of boats from Paul's Tsawwassen Yacht Club in the cove, and we had a very pleasant evening ahead of of us. Arrangements had been made for mini-buses from the Saturna Lodge to pick us up at Winter Cove, where we were to be taken to the Lodge for an evening of dining on barbecued salmon and roast lamb. The fixed price for this was $15 each, which was pretty reasonable. We dinghied ashore to meet the buses, and we found that the evening turned out to be everything we expected. After much good eating and good cheer, we returned to the dinghies and made our way out to the boats, stopping on the way for sociable drinks with other boaters.
June 20th. Winter Cove to Fulford Harbour
Some time before 11:00 AM, Paul was alerted to the fact that a group was to be led out of Winter Cove through Boat Passage, which is negotiable only at high slack. I cast off the lines which tied me to Paul's boat so that he could raise anchor and get underway. I watched as the small procession of boats made their exit through the narrow passage. Several other boats elected to go via Georgeson Passage, but I was staying in the Gulf Islands, so I made my way back out the way I had come, to Navy Channel. While motor-sailing up Navy Channel, I hit some driftwood which wedged between the rudder and the motor, causing the Autohelm to be unable to steer the boat. I lifted the motor and removed the wood, which fixed the problem.
I arrived at Fulford Harbour (Saltspring Island) about 1:30 PM, and wandered down to the pub. This is a very pleasant stroll, as it takes you past the old church there, which is quite scenic. After I'd enjoyed some ale and some lunch at the pub, I walked to the park, where Fulford Harbour's "Sea Frolic" festival was underway. The weather was cool and rainy, but there was a very fine show underway at the festival. The well-known folk singer Valdy was entertaining, and he puts on a really excellent performance.
Many of the people living on the Gulf Islands moved there in the sixties as part of a migration of hippies to that area. It was like turning the clock back thirty years to see a few of the people dancing around in their long hair, beards and hippy clothing. I thoroughly enjoyed myself at "Sea Frolics".
When I returned to "Lady Fox" the rain increased, and I noticed that water was entering the boat through the window seals. I didn't want to get the cushions or the bedding wet, so I applied some "Life Caulk" to the problem areas, and I didn't have water problems again for the rest of the trip.
Later in the day I walked into the town of Fulford Harbour in order to buy provisions.
June 21st. Fulford Harbour to Otter Bay
I left Fulford Harbour at 11:15 AM and headed across Swanson Channel towards Otter Bay (North Pender Island). I managed to sail part of the way, but mostly it was motor-sailing and motoring. After the cool, wet weather I decided to spoil myself a little by visiting the Otter Bay marina. I consider this to be an enjoyable marina, with a very nice swimming pool and a pleasant atmosphere.
I arrived there at 1:30 PM and relaxed aboard "Lady Fox", from where I saw a couple of friendly deer walking along the shoreline of the marina. The weather improved considerably at Otter Bay, and I went for a long stroll on the Island.
June 22nd. Otter Bay to Montague Harbour
At 11:00 AM I departed Otter Bay, and I was able to sail across Swanson channel, up Captain Passage and across Trincomali Channel to Montague Harbour. I found a mooring bouy there, and then dinghied ashore. While walking through the park, I got into conversation with a pleasant couple named Tony and Melody, who were moored in the marina. I later dinghied over to the marina, where I met them again. They insisted that I stay for dinner, which consisted of some large prawns (which they had got fresh the previous day) cooked in butter and garlic, along with a fine piece of barbecued steak.
Tony introduced me to crabbing. I had never set a crab trap before, and I wasn't sure what to do with the crab if I caught one. Tony said that, since he didn't have a dinghy, I should take his trap and set it, which I did.
Tony is an ex-navy man, and is very interested in the engines of navy ships. There happened to be a naval ship moored next to Tony and Melody's boat, and he secured an invitation for us to visit the engine room. It was very hot in there, but quite interesting. The (rather small) ship had two main deisel engines, with two deisel generators. Normally, they keep two generators running all night (as anyone who has moored near one of these boats will know), but since they had all the shore power that was available on this occasion, only one all-night generator was required.
After our tour of the navy ship, I went back to retreive the crab trap. There was one large red rock crab in it, so Tony was able to show me how to kill the crab and remove the meaty parts. The next day I cooked the crab, and thoroughly enjoyed it.
June 23rd. Montague Harbour to Telegraph Harbour
I left Montague Harbour at 12:30 PM, after bidding farewell to Tony and Melody. I enjoyed a very fine sail to Thetis Island Marina, much of it on a beam reach. I arrived there at 4:00 PM.
I bought a pound of prawns for eight dollars, although I think I got rather more than a pound. They were all still wriggling, and I pulled off their heads before boiling them. I finished them in some butter, and they were delicious!
June 24th. Telegraph Harbour to Newcastle Island
I managed to sail and then motor-sail most of the way to Dodd Narrows, having departed Telegraph Harbour at 11:30 AM. My arrival at Dodd Narrows was 45 minutes before slack water, but I noticed other sailboats were powering through against the current. I decided to do the same, and went through without any problems.
I motored down Northumberland Channel to Nanaimo Harbour, and I arrived at the docks on Newcastle Island at 3:15 PM. I walked around the island, which is very interesting . There are some wonderful views from the island trails, as well as a lot of historical sights. I enjoyed the remains of the coal mines, from which it was once possible to walk underground all the way to downtown Nanaimo. The old pulp-stone workings were also interesting. These consisted of a quarry from which giant sandstone discs were excavated, along with machinery to mill these sandstones, which were then used for grinding wood-pulp at mills throughout the North-West.
In the evening I dinghied over to the well-known "Dinghy Dock" pub on Protection Island. I would recommend a visit to Newcastle Island to anyone cruising in the area.
June 25th. Newcastle Island to RVYC, Vancouver
I had a phone call this morning from Paul, who said that he'd managed to get an official PHRF rating for "Lady Fox", and that I should meet him at the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club that evening so that we could race in the WAVES Regatta on English Bay. I wasn't too sure about that plan, but Paul pointed out that I would have a wonderful broad reach all the way across the strait. I left the dock at 10:45 AM, and hoisted sail once I was out past Entrance Island. The wind started to die about halfway across, so I motor-sailed, and eventually motored into English Bay. I arrived at the RVYC at Jericho Beach at 4:45 PM, which was pretty good time for a distance of close to 35 nautical miles.
As I entered the yacht club I spotted a fellow on the dock, and I asked him who I should talk to about moorage for the regatta. He said that he was the person, and he directed me to a slip. Once I was moored, I went to the clubhouse to register for the regatta, and to claim my free beer, which was included with the registration.
Some hours later Paul and Maggie arrived, having sailed (or motored) up from Point Roberts aboard "Con Amore". They had with them another couple from the Edmonton area, Fran and Floyd, who sail their C&C 27 "Wind Lass" from the Sunshine Bay Yacht Club on Lake Wabamun. The plan was for Fran and Floyd to crew for Paul and Maggie, and I would have some more friends of Paul's, John and Lorraine, as my crew. I had met this couple the previous weekend at the Winter Cove gathering. Once John and Lorraine arrived (by car) we all went for drinks at the RVYC clubhouse. It turned out to be a most enjoyable evening.
June 26th and 27th. WAVES Regatta on English Bay
I didn't have "Lady Fox" set up for racing. I hadn't brought a spinnaker pole with me, as I expected to be single-handing most of the time, and the boat was rather heavily-laden with cruising gear for six weeks. We did manage to get some competitive starts, though, and had a lot of fun trying to keep up to the fleet. We enjoyed some good winds (and some drifters!), and experienced the sound of everything in the cabin crashing to the floor as we established a good heel. On the first race I managed to pass the wrong side of the mark at the finish line, but the second race we officially finished within the time allowance. The downwind legs were not much fun without a spinnaker pole. We rigged the spinnaker as a blooper, which had a tendency to collapse if not watched very carefully.
The English Bay racers take their racing quite seriously--there were some serious boats there which we enjoyed watching. We had a good time at the clubhouse on the Saturday evening, and my crew of John and Lorraine proved to be great company.
June 28th, RVYC Vancouver to Pirates Cove, DeCourcey Island
Paul and Maggie loaned "Con Amore" to Fran and Floyd, as Paul had to return to work on Monday morning. A plan was devised whereby Floyd and Fran were to meet Paul and Maggie at the Sidney ferry terminal on June 30th, and I would sail in company with them for the trip.
At 10:15 AM we departed the RVYC, and enjoyed a good crossing of the strait to the Flat Top Islands. Both boats hesitated, to be quite sure of the correct course needed to arrive safely at Silva Bay. I had crossed the strait from the Gulf Islands to the mainland using this route a couple of times before, but neither of us had ever had to look for the entrance coming in from the strait. We finally felt confident about the route to follow, and we made our way into Silva Bay without any problems. We even managed to avoid the famous rock in the entrance to the bay.
We tied up to the dock of the pub at 4:00 PM, and enjoyed a couple of beers while watching a family of otters playing in the water below. At 5:00 PM we judged that the time was about right to catch the slack at Gabriola Passage, and we left Silva Bay. We were a bit early at Gabriola Passage, but we managed to motor through against the current.
At 6:30 PM we arrived at Pirates Cove on DeCourcey Island. As we entered the cove, I heard somebody calling "Lady Fox" on the VHF. It turned out to be Randy and Karen, another Edmonton couple who were sailing their San Juan 28 in the Gulf Islands for the summer. Once "Con Amore" and "Lady Fox" were anchored and rafted together, Randy and Karen rowed their dinghy over to us, and greeted us with a bottle of wine, which we soon consumed.
June 29th, Pirates Cove to Ganges
Our original plan was to go all the way to Sidney in one day, with a stop for shopping and showers in Ganges along the way. We enjoyed a cold rain with the wind right on our nose all the way down Trincomali Channel. We did try sailing for a while, but it was slow going having to tack all the way in the miserable weather. We decided to motor and eventually arrived in Ganges at 5:00 PM. I finally got to sail as we passed the Sisters Islands entering Ganges Harbour.
We moored at the government dock, which provides free moorage up to two hours during the daytime. By the time we had finished our shopping we no longer wanted to set off in the foul weather to go all the way to Sidney. We decided to spend the night on the government dock at Ganges, which we did after we had located the harbourmaster's office and paid our $11.00.
June 30th, Ganges to Sidney
Floyd and Fran wanted to cruise the San Juan Islands for a few days after picking up Paul and Maggie at Sidney. I wasn't too keen on this idea, as I was to meet Linda at the Victoria Airport (also at Sidney) on the morning of July 1st. Linda was to join me until July 5th, when she would return to our home in Sherwood Park until July 16th. Then she was to re-join me for the last two weeks of the cruise.
By the time I arose on June 30th, "Con Amore" was gone. I left Ganges at 10:15 AM, and made my way to Sidney, arriving there at 2:00 PM. On my way into the Port Sidney Marina I met "Con Amore" coming out from Canoe Cove, so I was able to come alongside and have a chat with Paul and Maggie, and say goodbye to Floyd and Fran.
I had good intentions of giving "Lady Fox" a good cleaning, of buying provisions, of doing my laundry and perhaps even getting a haircut before Linda's arrival the next morning. But first I decided to visit the "Rum Runner" pub for a well-deserved pint of beer. This was a mistake. Before I'd finished the beer I found myself in a conversation with a friendly fellow at a nearby table. This necessitated another beer. I heard some interesting stories of his life in Central America, where he has an interest in a bar. After a few more beers his girlfriend arrived, so we ordered another round of drinks. She is from France, and had moved to Central America some years ago. She accompanied him when he had to return home to Victoria for a while. When it eventually came time to leave the pub that evening, the three of us made our way along the docks to "Lady Fox" where we enjoyed a few more sociable drinks.
Soon after they departed, I had a phone call from some friends from Sherwood Park who were in the area. I have played in a number of bands over the years, and the two couples who called me form a band with whom I had played on occasion. They had a gig on the Friday evening at the Brentwood Bay resort. I invited them over for a drink, and when they arrived I was still in very good spirits from my well-spent afternoon. They claim to have a video-tape of the evening, but they haven't persuaded me to watch it yet. After they finally left, I went to the laundromat and did my laundry! I must have been finished by midnight, as the phone rang at twelve o'clock to remind me that they were going to pick me up in the morning for my trip to the airport to meet Linda. I understood them to say that I should get up by 7:00 AM in order to be picked up at 7:30.
July 1st, Port Sidney Marina to Van Isle Marina
I duly awake by 7:00 AM, and by 7:30 I was waiting outside the marina entrance to be picked up by the two couples. One of the couples is named Dave and Susan, and the other is called Dave and Hazel, so you can't go wrong if you call for Dave. They arrived shortly after 7:30, and they wondered where I'd been. I said that I'd got up by seven as they had requested in the phone call. They explained that they had told me to expect a seven o'clock call from them, not to get up by seven.
We were soon on our way to breakfast at the "Spitfire" restaurant, located right by the perimeter of the airport. This is an interesting place to eat, as the waitresses dress in flight suits, as though ready for combat in a WWII fighter plane. It is owned by the same person who owns the Brentwood Bay Resort and Marina. As we finished breakfast we saw the WestJet flight from Edmonton landing, so we made our way to the terminal building.
It was good to see Linda again, and I was anxious to show her "Lady Fox" in the water. The last time Linda had seen her she was parked in our driveway. Once Linda had made herself at home on the boat, we strolled into downtown Sidney (very close to the Port Sidney Marina) where we watched the Canada Day parade. Next we did a bit of shopping, and soon left the marina for the short trip out to Sidney Spit.
It was an extremely windy day, and this was Linda's first time at the helm of "Lady Fox". We had a difficult time picking up a mooring bouy at Sidney Spit, and when we did get one the wind was blowing so strongly that our boat-hook was soon broken by the wind pushing the boat away from the mooring. Luckily it was my old, spare boat-hook, but we decided that we didn't really want to moor at Sidney Spit after all.
We then turned for Tsehum Harbour, where we decided to moor at Van Isle Marina for the night.
July 2nd, Van Isle Marina to Brentwood Bay
At 12:30 PM we left Tsehum Harbour for our trip to Brentwood Bay. We enjoyed a good sail around to Saanich Inlet, but the wind eventually died in the inlet soon after we had passed Patricia Bay. We motored into Brentwood Bay, and tied up at the Brentwood Bay Resort and Marina at 4:30 PM. It's easy to see the Brentwood Bay area once you've entered the bay, as the ugliest condominium development in the world appears as a gigantic eyesore covering a large area of the waterfront and hillside. It's difficult to imagine what kind of insane greed must have prompted this awful development to have been erected in such a beautiful location.
We ate dinner in the pub at the resort with the two Daves, Susan and Hazel. Their gig was to be in the pub that evening.
The evening turned out to be really enjoyable. We met a lot of interesting people in the pub, and I played bass guitar for one set of old Rock 'n Roll numbers. When I say old, I mean quite old--late fifties and very early sixties. It was superb fun.
July 3rd, Brentwood Bay and Tod Inlet
We took the two Daves, Susan and Hazel with us for a local cruise. We followed the path of the ferry from Brentwood Bay across the inlet towards Mill Bay, and then turned back towards Tod Inlet. A lot of boats were in the process of anchoring in Tod Inlet, in preparation for the first Saturday night fireworks display of the year at Butchart Gardens. A trip up Tod Inlet is a must if you're in that area. It's a very beautiful place.
Hazel has an uncle and aunt who live at Brentwood Bay, and in the afternoon we were invited there for a barbecue. This was great fun, and in the evening the party moved back to "Lady Fox" so we could watch the fireworks from the marina. We were given permission to use the upper deck of "Sea Jac" to watch the fireworks. "Sea Jac" is a cruise boat owned by the resort; it's used for dinner cruises, weddings and private parties.
The firework display was quite exceptional, and it wrapped up a most enjoyable day.
July 4th, Brentwood Bay to Otter Bay
At 11:30 AM we left Brentwood Bay, and we enjoyed a good sail once we got to Swanson Channel. We arrived at Otter Bay on North Pender Island at 3:30 PM. We decided to visit Otter Bay because it had become a favourite of Linda's on our last cruise two years earlier.
Linda bought me a wonderful gift in the Otter Bay store. She got me a crab trap. I went and purchased a fishing license so I could use the trap, and I was looking forward to many fine crab feasts.
At supper time we took a stroll to the ferry dock, where we ordered hamburgers at the famous ferry dock hamburger stand. I just had to try their well-known "Hummer", an extremely large hamburger which includes a very large bun, lots of meat, six strips of bacon and goodness knows what else. I achieved a rarely-managed feat, in that I managed to eat the whole thing.
July 5th, Otter Bay to Port Sidney
We sadly left Otter Bay at 11:15 AM, and sailed to Sidney Spit. We moored at one of the mooring bouys there, and enjoyed glorious weather for a picnic. After about one-and-a-half hours, we left for the half-hour trip to Port Sidney Marina, where we arrived shortly before three o'clock.
Linda packed her bags, and we took a cab to the airport. We'd had a lot of fun in the five days that she'd been there, although the weather wasn't too good until the last day of her visit. I watched her through the security check, and then left for the ferry terminal at Swartz Bay.
At the ferry terminal, I met my son Terry, his wife Krista and their two children, Rebecca (5) and Nick (almost 3), who were to join me for the next couple of days. We returned to "Lady Fox" at Port Sidney Marina, and got everyone settled aboard. We ate supper on the boat, went for a stroll around the docks, and eventually turned in for the night.
July 6th, Port Sidney to Otter Bay
With the children aboard, I decided to go to a marina. I wanted one where the kids could enjoy themselves, so I decided to return to our old favourite at Otter Bay, which has a nice swimming pool.
We left Port Sidney at 11:30 AM, and were soon spotting wildlife as there are plenty of seals to be seen in the waters just to the west of Sidney Spit. Next we saw sea lions on the drying rocks in Moresby Passage. The kids thoroughly enjoyed all of this, but their biggest treat was a pod of killer whales playing in the waters off Otter Bay. This was a great start to their short visit with me.
We arrived at Otter Bay at 1:50 PM. We took the dinghy and set the crab trap in the bay, but all we caught was a starfish. Rebecca was very interested in starfish, as well as jelly fish.
July 7th, Otter Bay
The kids spent most of the day in the pool, and so did the adults as well. For supper we walked to the hamburger stand at the ferry terminal, where Terry and Krista split a hummer between them, as they had heard all about these well-known hamburgers.
Krista made me a nice arrangement of wildflowers which she picked on the walk back to the marina. She set them in the cabin in a glass of water, and they lasted more than a week.
In the evening we packed up Terry and Krista's and the kids' luggage, and hauled it to the ferry dock, where a ferry for the mainland was due. I watched as they boarded the boat, and then I returned to "Lady Fox" for the night.
July 8th, Otter Bay to Montague Harbour
I left Otter Bay at 10:15 AM, and by twelve I was at the fuel dock at Montague Harbour Marina. I refuelled there, and bought provisions at the small store. At one o'clock I moored at a mooring bouy in Montague Harbour Marine Park. I set the crab trap and caught a very nice red rock crab, which I cooked and ate; it was good.
July 9th, Montague Harbour to Conover Cove
At 12:15 AM I left Montague Harbour and made the short trip to Conover Cove on Wallace Island, where I arrived at 1:00 PM. I anchored and put a stern line ashore to one of the yellow-painted rings set into the rock for that purpose.
I walked the trail out to Panther Point, and then in the other direction to Princess Cove. I learned a little more about the history of the island. The resort on the island at Conover Cove was run by Mr Conover, and it was a place where a number of famous people stayed, possibly including Marilyn Monroe. He wrote a couple of books about island life, the best-known being "Once Upon an Island", which I would like to find some day. (Note: I've now read the book, and a new edition is in the works and can be pre-ordered. To read all about the Island, the Conover family and the Marilyn Monroe connection, as well as to order the book, visit David Conover Jr's web-site at http://www.dconover.com )
Panther Point has one of the nicest views to be seen anywhere. You can sit on the sun-dappled bluff, surrounded by beautiful arbutus trees, and look down to the clear bluish-green water of Trincomali Channel. The sheer cliffs of Galiano Island can be seen to the east, and Saltspring Island is to the southwest.
It was a warm day, and as the tide rose over sun-heated rocks along the edge of Conover Cove, I found that the shallow water over the rocks was just fine for a swim. I joined several other swimmers in the water.
In the evening there was a little commotion, as a power boat had attempted to enter the cove without regard for the extensive reef across its entrance. I dinghied out to take a look, but it wasn't stuck too badly and it was a rising tide. He apparently got off without too much problem and returned to Vancouver for some prop repair work.
July 10th, Conover Cove to Maple Bay Marina
It was a very low tide in the morning, about one foot, leaving me with about one foot under the keel. I had to wait until there was enough water to get to the entrance of the cove.
I got away at twelve o'clock, and noticed that the reef which had caused the problem to the power boat the previous night was now well above water. I suppose that we all hit the bottom once in a while, but it's hard to imagine why anyone would ram into a reef that's so clearly marked on the charts, with a bouy marking it's southern end.
I arrived at the Maple Bay Marina at 3:15 PM. I took the opportunity to shower and shave when I arrived, and I placed a telephone call to Dave Hebden. I had met David through the Tanzer Internet mailing list, and he had suggested that I give him a call should I find myself at Maple Bay during my cruise. Later in the afternoon I heard a knocking on "Lady Fox's" cabin; I emerged to find David at my dock.
David is the man responsible for the design of the new rudders found on many Tanzers. The new rudder greatly reduces the Tanzers' well-known weather helm. He is a very fine fellow, and insisted on taking me into town (Duncan) so that I could do some grocery shopping. Then we visited his own Tanzer 26 "Vixen" (a word which means the same thing as "Lady Fox") at the nearby Birds Eye Cove Marina. David's is a very well equipped Tanzer, complete with a typical west-coast dodger.
July 11th, Maple Bay to Telegraph Harbour
I ate breakfast at the friendly and reasonably-priced outdoor coffee-shop at the marina, and then I topped off my fuel ready for departure. But before I left I had some work to do. The previous evening I had met a fellow from Manitoba who was strolling the docks looking at the boats. We had started conversing, and he informed me that he was at Maple Bay with the intention of buying a boat to take back to Lake Winnipeg. He had been looking at a C&C 29 which was with the brokerage at the marina. This morning I was to accompany him on a sea trial of the boat.
There was a good breeze for the sea trial, and we put up a jib and a reefed main. The C&C sailed perfectly, with great acceleration as the sails filled with the wind near the entrance to Maple Bay. Under these conditions it would have been very difficult not to buy it. I'm not sure if he eventually did buy the boat, but the next time I was in Maple Bay it was gone, so I'm pretty sure that he did.
When Linda had first seen the size of the Zodiac dinghy we had for "Lady Fox", she felt that she probably wouldn't want to use it. It was the smallest of Zodiacs, lacking even a seat. Knowing that Linda was to return in a few days, I didn't want the rest of the trip spoiled by the lack of a suitable dinghy. I decided to trade-in the dinghy for a larger one at the brokerage, which was also a Zodiac dealer. This I did without too much trouble--except for the expenditure of quite a bit of money! The new dinghy worked out really well, and my 2 HP Suzuki outboard was quite up to the job of pushing it along.
I left Maple Bay at 2:30 PM, happy that I had found a friendly and reasonably-priced marina.
The weather was very hot, and I needed to find somewhere to cool off. I had heard about the swimming beach at Tent Island, so I decided to visit there next.
I arrived at Tent Island at 4:30 PM, and barely managed to get my anchor to hold (on the third attempt!) in the weedy-bottomed indentation along the western shore of the island. I dinghied ashore, and then plunged into the water that was lapping against the beach. It was wonderful! This was a fairly popular place, but there was plenty of room for everyone. I was discovering that there's plenty of opportunity for swimming in the Gulf Islands, provided you know where to go.
At 7:00 PM I eventually departed Tent Island, and arrived at Telegraph Harbour Marina at 7:45. I tested my new dinghy by travelling through the boat passage to Clam Bay, and then back to the marina. I enjoyed the trip.
July 12th, Telegraph Harbour to Maple Bay
I attempted to leave Telegraph Harbour Marina at 11:00 AM. I followed the wharfinger's instructions to stay very close to the dock as I rounded its end. This was in order to avoid running aground during the very low tide. Unfortunately, it was not possible to avoid running aground regardless of how close I stayed to the dock. With plenty of pulling on the mooring lines, "Lady Fox" eventually came off the sand bar and was returned to the dock.
By 12:30 PM I was able to leave the marina, and I headed south once more. Passing the public dock at Vesuvius, I noticed that there was room at the dock for me. I decided to stop there and try the pub on top of the hill. The Vesuvius dock is not particularly well-protected, and there was a good wind. At 2:30 PM, with the help of a couple of friendly kayakers (who were also sailors, as I discovered during conversation at the pub), I tied up to the dock. The pub-restaurant at Vesuvius is well worth stopping for.
I left Vesuvius at 3:15 PM and and made my way to Maple Bay. I went close to the Vancouver Island shore to inspect (and photograph) a very decrepit-looking old ship that was tied into a small indentation in the shoreline. There was a notice on the ship which read: "Ship for Sale. Cheap". I wondered what the story of this ship might be. I was later told that it may possibly be the "Rainbow Warrior", Greenpeace's ship. The last time I had seen "Rainbow Warrior" had been a couple of years previously in Ganges Harbour, and she had appeared to be in good shape at that time. I still don't know if this was the "Rainbow Warrior" or not.
I do know now. I've received an e-mail from a gentleman named David Hunter of Thetis Island who knows all about this boat. It's actual name is the "Glencoe." Read all about it by following Clicking Here
At 4:45 PM I arrived at Maple Bay. I took some time to re-rig "Lady Fox" to better suit my requirements. I moved the furling line to the starboard side, and rigged the mainsail reefing line to one of the cabin-top clutches. I now very rarely have need to do any work on the foredeck.
July 13th, Maple Bay to Genoa Bay
I left Maple Bay at 11:00 AM, and I enjoyed some great sailing in the lively wind. I had a reef in the main (the new system I had devised last night works well!) and I had the genoa rolled up to the size of a 100% jib. The Mylar genoa on the Harken reefing system points perfectly when rolled up this far. I know that some older sails which have been cut down from hank-on to roller-reefing do not work well when partially reefed, but a modern mylar sail designed for roller-reefing works wonderfully, whether it's partially furled or completely unfurled. I wouldn't consider short-handed sailing without a good roller-furling system. It has to be a good one--you don't want one with a penchant for jamming when you are in ugent need of reducing sail in a hurry! I'm more than satisfied with the Harken system on "Lady Fox".
I was on a broad reach when I entered Sansom Narrows, but then I furled the genoa and motor-sailed through the whirlpools of the narrows. When I left the narrows I was sailing close-hauled. I would have liked to have to stopped at Musgrave Landing, as it is supposed to be very scenic, but the dock was full as I passed by.
I enjoyed a great run and broad reach up Cowichan Bay, then I turned and headed for Genoa Bay. I saw a beautiful ketch named "Elizabeth Jane" entering Genoa Bay as I approached there. I arrived at the Genoa Bay Marina at 2:00 PM.
Anyone who read "Pacific Yachting" magazine in the mid-eighties may remember the fantastic ads from Arctic-Tropic Adventures, promoting sailing adventures in the South Seas aboard "Stormstrutter", a ferro-cement ketch. The owner (and builder) of "Stormstrutter" is John Samson, who was also responsible for the wonderful advertising copy. He is also the author of an authoritative book on ferro-cement boat construction.
These days, John runs a brokerage at Genoa Bay, and spends a lot of time working on his latest book. I spent an entertaining afternoon in John's company, and was able to read some of his work-in-progress. I would say that the theories contained in the book are somewhat controversial, and are not always expressed in a politically-correct manner. John believes that people from north-west Europe were sailing the world hunting for marine mammals long before the documented voyages of Columbus and Captain Cook took place. He has developed quite a bit of evidence in support of these theories. I'm sure that he will enjoy quite a following once his work is published. If you are able to listen to John's ideas about organized religion and many other topics without taking offense, then you can enjoy a truly great afternoon in his company. "Stormstrutter" is still moored beside his floating office, although she no longer looks like she did in the days when she was sailing between British Columbia and New Zealand.
Later in the afternoon, I met the owners of "Elizabeth Jane", the lovely ketch I had seen earlier. The 47-foot "Elizabeth Jane" was built in Taiwan to a William Garden design. It was a great experience to be shown around such a beautifully-finished boat. Some of the work had been completed at Boat Harbour (south of Dodd Narrows on Vancouver Island), where the boat was moored for the summer. The owners of "Elizabeth Jane", who were from Oregon, confirmed many of the stories about Boat Harbour found in the July 1999 issue of "Pacific Yachting" magazine. They love the place, complete with the modern-day pirates firing their historic cannons.
In the evening I received a phone call from Hazel, one of the band-members with whom we had spent a few fun days a couple of weeks previously. She was back at Brentwood Bay, and would like to go sailing. I said I'd make my way to Brentwood Bay.
July 14th, Genoa Bay to Brentwood Bay
At 11:00 AM I departed Genoa Bay, and headed south towards Saanich Inlet. I was motoring into a strong wind, and encountered some very rough seas crossing Boatswains Bank. The boat came crashing down from each wave into the next, with the outboard leaving the water each time. As I entered Saanich Inlet, the water became fairly calm, and I arrived at Brentwood Bay at 1:30 PM.
July 15th, Brentwood Bay to Tsehum Harbour (Van Isle Marina)
I left the Brentwood Bay Marina at 11:00 AM, and went to the government dock. It was here that I was to pick up Hazel and her Aunt Blanche, who was visiting from England. Blanche is an octogenarian who likes to enjoy life, but the steep descent to the docks at the marina would have been too hard for her to negotiate. She could get to the government dock much more easily. The problem was, as with all government docks, it was full of fishboats. I had to tie up to a troller, and we assisted Blanche to cross the fishing boat. This was a bit tricky, as there's not much wasted space on a commercial fishing boat, with lines, hatches and equipment taking up most of the deck space. We managed, though, and were soon under way.
There was very little wind, which was quite a contrast to the day before. By 2:15 PM we were picking up a mooring bouy at Sidney Spit, and I soon had the barbecue going. I barbecued steak and potatoes and trimmings, and opened a nice bottle of red wine. We enjoyed a great meal. I then dinghied ashore to explore Sidney Spit.
At 4:30 we left Sidney Spit, arriving at Van Isle Marina at 5:30. We then called Hazel's uncle at Brentwood Bay so that he could drive over to pick up Hazel and Blanche.
In the evening I met one of my neighbours on the dock, whose day job was as an RCMP officer aboard a police patrol vessel. We had an interesting conversation and a few drinks together.
July 16th, Van Isle Marina
In the morning I took a taxi over to the airport to meet Linda, and I met Hazel, Blanche and Hazel's Aunt Roseanne there as well. They had decided meet Linda too. Hazel drove us back over to Van Isle, so that Linda could make herself at home on the boat. We met John, who was one of our neighbours aboard a Catalina 27, and we spent a pleasant evening chatting over drinks. John had spent much of his childhood aboard his family's 34-foot troller, and he likened commercial fishing to being locked in jail, but with a good chance of drowning.
July 17th, Van Isle Marina to Montague Harbour
We left Van Isle Marina at 10:30 AM and enjoyed one of the best sailing days of the cruise. There was lots of wind and sun, which is just what you want for sailing! We were on a broad reach all the way to Montague Harbour. The knotmeter (which I had checked against the GPS) was reading over seven knots most of the time, as we surfed along in the following sea. We went via Moresby Passage, Swanson Channel and Trincomali Channel.
We arrived at Montague Harbour at 4:00 PM, but there were no mooring bouys available. We decided to anchor, but could not get the hook to hold in any of the few vacant places. We eventually took moorage at the marina, where they managed to find us a spot at the end of the gas dock. The place was very busy, as it was the first really nice Saturday of July and everyone with a boat seemed to be out.
July 18th, Montague Harbour to Conover Cove (Wallace Island)
We left Montague Harbour at 11:15 AM and sailed (and motor-sailed) to Conover Cove, arriving at 1:30 PM. We went for a long walk on Wallace Island and took lots of photographs.
We had purchased some frozen hamburger at the store at Montague Harbour the previous day, and we spiced it up with some chopped garlic cloves and several other items we found in our provisions. Then we barbecued hamburgers. They tasted delicious.
Later in the day, as we were dinghying ashore, I heard a shout which seemed to be directed at me. I looked around and saw Tony, whom I had last seen back in June at Montague Harbour, when he had taught me about trapping crabs. We had a pleasant chat, and it was nice to see him again. After that, we went for a row in the dinghy, then went for a quick swim in the cove.
July 19th, Conover Cove to Telegraph Harbour
We found a nice crab in the crab trap this morning, which we ate. At 11:15 AM we left for Telegraph Harbour. We arrived there at 1:30 PM and then walked to the ferry terminal. We took the ferry to Chemainus where we shopped for groceries and had our film developed.
July 20th, Telegraph Harbour to Pirates Cove (Decourcey Island)
It took us two hours to sail from Telegraph Harbour to Pirates Cove on Decourcey Island. We arrived there at 12:30 PM, and anchored right next to another Tanzer 26. We enjoyed a pleasant chat with our Tanzer 26 neighbours, comparing experiences with our boats.
Pirates Cove is a very beautiful place. We rowed the dinghy to one of the convenient dinghy docks, and strolled down to the southern end of the island, where we read the tales of the infamous Brother Twelve and Madame Z. It must have been interesting times there in the nineteen-twenties! (There's a book available about Brother Twelve, entitled "Canada's False Prophet")
July 21st, Pirates Cove to Newcastle Island
We left Pirates Cove at 10:00 AM, and arrived at Newcastle Island at 12:30 PM, having caught the slack at Dodd Narrows just right.
We walked around the island in the continuing fine summer weather. We had a surprise when we arrived back at the Newcastle Island docks--we saw a dinghy identical to ours adrift among the docks. Then we checked our own dinghy, only to find it missing. It had drifted away, but fortunately not too far!
We went across to Nanaimo to get ice and to do some laundry. On our return we dinghied over to the "Dinghy Dock" pub. We enjoyed a good meal there and some fine drinks. As it was a Wednesday evening, the Nanaimo Yacht Club Wednesday night races were taking place. We had a perfect spot to watch the finish of the race, next to the bar where the owner of the pub could sound the finish siren and make announcements on his public address system. It was a most enjoyable evening.
July 22nd, Newcastle Island to Maple Bay
Before we left Newcastle Island, we showered, ate breakfast at the pavillion, and strolled along some of the island trails. The pavillion at Newcastle Island is a remnant of the days (in the nineteen-thirties) when the island had been a destination for CP cruise ships from Vancouver.
At noon we left for Maple Bay. We arrived at Dodd Narrows at 1:20 PM, just in time to get through ahead of a tug with a log boom. We would have been delayed for a while if we'd had to wait for it to pass through the narrows. There was a second tug there to give a push to the boom, as it was just before slack, and the pulling tug would not have been able to move the large boom against the current.
As we raced through on full throttle ahead of the tug and boom, our motor missed a few beats, which caused our hearts to miss a few beats as well. We had visions of the motor failing, with us falling back against the log boom. The motor picked up again, and we didn't have a problem, but it was a bit of a concern at the time.
We then enjoyed some great sailing close-hauled, passing several other sailboats along the way. The Tanzer 26 is an incredible boat, able to outsail other cruising boats with a much greater waterline length. We're lucky people, us Tanzer owners. The wind increased and we reefed the mainsail south of Yellow Point. Then the wind died as we passed the entrance to Ladysmith Harbour, so we shook out the reef. When we got to Tent Island, the wind really started blowing again, requiring another reef. We arrived at Maple Bay at 6:45 PM.
July 23rd, Maple Bay to Ganges
I did some more shopping at the Maple Bay Marina. We had been to several places where anchoring also required a line ashore, and it's best to have a really long shore line. This is so that the line can pass around the ring (or tree, etc.) ashore and back to the boat again. In this way, it's not necessary to go ashore when you wish to leave the anchorage--you just untie one end of the line from the boat and pull the line back into the boat from the other (still tied) end. At Maple Bay I finally purchased a couple of hundred feet of yellow polypropylene rope for this purpose.
We left Maple Bay at 1:00 PM and motored all the way to Ganges, where we arrived at 6:00 PM. As we entered the long approach to Ganges Harbour, our motor suddenly started to sound strange. I backed off the throttle, and the motor stalled immediately. An oil slick quickly appeared on the water, and the engine smelled very hot. I lifted the motor, and found that a plastic bag had caught against the water intake, preventing any water from entering the engine's cooling system. I removed the bag, lowered the engine, and immediately re-started the motor. Vast amounts of steam came from the engine as cold water entered the overheated cooling system, but the motor quickly cooled off and started running normally. After we had moored at the Ganges Marina (which still showed the effects of the previous winter's fierce storms) I checked the level and condition of the oil; everything was okay.
In all the years that I have sailed at Lake Wabamun, which is only 21 km by 6km in size, and is used by large numbers of people from the Edmonton area, I have never found a plastic bag in the water, or very much garbage of any kind. Here in the vastness of the ocean there's never any shortage of man-made flotsam.
We strolled around Ganges in the evening, which is always a most enjoyable experience. We heard some excellent jazz music with great vocals at the outdoor stage at the Tree House Cafe, then some superb Celtic-style music from another group set up in the downtown area. You should never miss a Friday night at Ganges if you're in the Gulf Islands.
July 24th, Ganges to Montague Harbour
We looked around the famous Saturday morning market at Ganges, where I met Anthony Bruce, the author of a couple of mystery books that I've enjoyed. He's usually at the market, selling his latest book and signing it. His books are set mainly in British Columbia and Africa.
I re-checked the engine-oil situation, which was good, and then we topped-off our fresh water tank and gassed-up. We left Ganges at noon and arrived at Montague Harbour at 1:10 PM.
It was another hot day, so we dinghied around Gray Peninsula to one of the beautiful white beaches found there. On a sunny day these beaches become very suitable for swimming as the incoming tide spills over the sun-warmed beach. We enjoyed a good swim there.
July 25th, Montague Harbour
As we entered Montague Harbour, we had noticed a large black ship at anchor. It had a sign proclaiming fresh bread for sale, and a dinghy dock tied to its stern. We dinghied over to this ship, and enquired about the bread that was advertised. We got some fresh bread and warm cinnamon buns straight from the oven, and a tour of the ship as well. The ship had originally been the ferry between Nanaimo and Gabriola Island, then had been moved to the Powell River to Blubber Bay (Texada Island) run. There was still a sailing schedule and price list for the Texada Island route, which showed a car and passengers as costing two dollars. I think it's been quite a while since it was used as a ferry.
The boat itself was capable of carrying five cars when it was a ferry, one across the end of the car deck, and two rows of two cars along the deck. Most of this area had been converted to living accomodations now, and the ship was a very comfortable home. The owners live aboard at Maple Bay and sail around to Montague Harbour on weekends to bake and sell baked goods. They could probably stay busy all week at Montague, but they also work as commercial divers at Maple Bay, where they inspect hulls and change zincs.
We made another dinghy trip around the peninsula, and found more beaches for swimming.
July 26th, Montague Harbour
We had thought of leaving Montague today, but then we met Randy and Karen from Edmonton aboard their San Juan 28. I had last seen them a month previously at Pirates Cove. We were invited aboard for drinks and then for supper, which we enjoyed greatly. Sailors are very sociable people! The day passed very quickly.
Randy is an ex-commercial pilot, and we both enjoyed watching the float-planes landing and taking off in the harbour. Most of the planes are DeHavilland Beavers, which appear to be the most suitable plane for this type of work. The Beaver first appeared in 1947 and it's strange that float-plane technology has not advanced at all since then. We thoroughly enjoyed the sound of the radial-engined Beavers as they taxied across the harbour on the step, and the sight of them coming off the step amidst all the spray they create. As an ex-private pilot myself, I enjoyed all this, and it made me ponder the relationship between flying and sailing. When I had taught Power Squadron courses in Edmonton (where the students are usually in a ratio of about ten sailors to each power-boater) I had noticed that a lot of these students were also pilots or ex-pilots. I'm not sure what it is about flying and sailing, but there is some relationship there.
July 27th, Montague Harbour to Bedwell Harbour
We left Montague at 10:00 AM, and by 11:15 AM we were off the northern end of North Pender Island. Here we experienced one of the most magical moments of the entire cruise. A pod of Dalls Porpoises decided to join us for a while. The played in our bow wave, and circled the boat to get their turn in the bow wave again. They appeared to be deliberately showing off for us. They stayed with us for some time, until we were off Port Washington. This really was a highlight of the trip; I had heard about dolphins playing in bow waves, but this was my first experience with porpoises doing the same thing.
We called Otter Bay to see if they had room in the marina for us, but they were full. We then called Bedwell Harbour on South Pender Island. They did have room, so we made a reservation and continued down Swanson Channel. We arrived at Bedwell at 12:45 and made ourselves at home. The weather was hot again, so we went for a swim in the pool there, and for a drink in the pub.
I had never been through the canal which separates North Pender Island from South Pender Island, so we decided to go for a dinghy trip to the far side of the road bridge which crosses the canal. This is a very pretty cruise, and well worth the time.
July 28th, Bedwell Harbour to Point Roberts
At 9:30 AM we left Bedwell Harbour, and headed towards Active Pass. We timed it just right to arrive there at slack tide. We had one large ferry follow us into the pass, and we met two more large ones inside the pass. We found that there was plenty of room for all of us there.
As we left the pass, we could see the mainland in the distance. There was a strong wind and bright sunshine, and we sailed and motor-sailed under a reefed genoa close-hauled all the way across the Strait of Georgia. About two-thirds of the way across I noticed a purse-seiner retreiving its net ahead of us. I wasn't sure exactly what it was doing, so I decided to take a better look with the binoculars. As I was looking at the fishboat, a great black and white object leapt from the water right in my field of vision. There was a pod of killer whales playing in the vicinity. As this was the last day of our cruise, we thought that this was a nice way to end it, with a large pod of orcas entertaining us as we crossed the strait.
At 2:15 PM we arrived at the Point Roberts Marina, where we cleared U.S. customs, made arrangements for overnight moorage and arranged for a haul-out in the morning. I called our friends Paul and Maggie, who brought our Jeep and boat trailer from their home for us. They helped us take down the mast and prepare "Lady Fox" for the ride on to her trailer.
That evening, our last on the coast, the four of us enjoyed supper and drinks at Breakers restaurant overlooking the Strait of Georgia.
July 29th, Departure from Point Roberts
The morning was wet and cold, which made leaving this beautiful area a little easier. I motored "Lady Fox" the short distance to the Travelift, which soon had our lovely boat swinging clear of the water, and onto her trailer. The last time she had been on her trailer, I had never sailed her, and now I had sailed her every day for the last six weeks.
We left Point Roberts and within a couple of minutes were back in Canada, heading east. The following evening, "Lady Fox" was sitting on our driveway in Sherwood Park, just as she had back in early June. It was a beautiful trip.