4th – 17th July 2016
Our wedding day was over all too soon (sigh) and what a wonderful day that was! Brett and I spent our wedding night on Theros, while we were still docked at Kanaka Wharf (sorry folks, I’m not going to give you a blow by blow account…you’ll have to use your imagination!). The next day, we waved goodbye to Ganges harbour and set sail for our honeymoon adventure. Our plan for the next couple of weeks was to sail from Salt Spring Island to Princess Louisa Inlet and back, taking in some beauty spots on the way.
We took it easy put-put-putting out of the bay until there was sufficient wind to hoist the sails for a while. It’s a wonderful feeling when the wind is up, the sails are filled and Theros glides along, seemingly without a care in the world. Brett suffered my lame attempts at nautical puns (or should I say jibes?) like “Genoa good Captain round ‘ere?”. I wondered to myself how many of these I could come up with when we embark on our voyage around the world next year, shall I take bets?
Not only is Brett patient with my terrible jokes but he is also a patient teacher, quite literally showing me the ropes as we cruised along. I enjoy sailing but my experience is limited to Wayfarers and Laser IIs in Bangor Sailing Club, when I was at University and a brief voyage ten years later, when I crewed on a Tall Ship, the Lord Nelson, fulfilling a childhood dream. Dinghy and square-rig sailing are very different to keel boat sailing and I know I have so much to learn in preparation for going off shore next year. However, I am usually a quick learner and I’m in good hands with Captain Clibbery!
Just a few short hours later, we sailed along the Trincomali Channel and reached our anchorage for our first day at Montague Harbour on the west side of southern Galiano Island, which is a Provincial Marine Park. The harbour is always a popular spot for sail boats and power boats alike. Thankfully, there was plenty of room for us to drop anchor. Brett was excited to use the new electric windlass we’d installed before our wedding for the first time and I followed his instructions while at the helm, well almost, and I soon learned how sensitive the throttle is between a ‘gentle reverse’ and ‘reverse at full speed’. Ahem. Suffice to say, the anchor held and we settled in.
Brett’s friends Tim, Isabelle and Arabella and their friends Dude (Kim) and Laurie were our neighbours, so we dinghied over to them on their power boats ‘Compadre’ and ‘Tobago’ to say hello and chill out. After an impromptu and delicious, home made burger supper we bade them all goodnight, aiming to sail out with them in the morning. However, at OMG it’s early o’clock in the morning we encountered problems lifting the anchor as the old chain, that came with the boat originally, kept catching in the windlass, which meant Brett had to haul it by hand. Apparently this is known as ‘hand-bombing’ (I’m not sure I should be using such terminology here as you never know, who might be reading this and could misinterpret what I’m writing…but ah well). Knowing that we’d need to drop anchor a few times on this trip, the thought of having to lift the anchor by hand didn’t fill us with a great degree of glee.
Reluctantly then, and promising to catch up with our friends in a couple of days time, we left Montague Harbour, sailed back to Salt Spring, jumped in the car and took the ferry across to Victoria to pick up 400 ft of new anchor chain and a new Rocna 20 anchor…well why not? The Rocna style of anchor is shaped in such a way so that it will still grab and hold, whichever way it rolls. Meanwhile I took the liberty of ordering a pair of Rockwater Designs Water Hikers (deck shoes), as my Teva sandals don’t have any toe protection. Brett’s poor old, yet trusty car, rattled and hummed with the sheer weight of metal in the back. A lot of muscle and upper body strength are required to haul 400 ft of anchor chain out of a car boot and lower it down onto the deck of a boat, from a great height at the dock! And this is strength that I do not have…yet. Luckily, I didn’t have to worry about this as James kindly helped his dad to remove the old anchor chain and anchor and get the new ones on deck so that Brett could finish installing them by sundown. And he did! Result!
Arrrgghh what a narrow escape!
After that little interlude and diversion, we resumed our sailing trip and this time we headed out from Salt Spring Island up to Pirates’s Cove, at the south east end of De Courcy Island. Arrrgghhh. I just had to say arrggghhh. It’s sort of obligatory you know, when talking about pirates.
Well shiver me timbers, Pirate’s Cove is a beautiful, tranquil spot with neither a Blackbeard, Maria la Gorda, Jack Sparrow nor parrot in sight. We dropped anchor without a glitch and relaxed outside in the cockpit to admire the spectacular sunset over a G&T.
The early mornings aboard in the chill of the dawn air can take some getting used to but they are necessary in order to prepare the boat to leave. Our lovely new Rocna anchor and chain came up as smoothly as a hot knife through butter. Thank Neptune for the electric windlass! The old addage that “Time and tide, waits for no man” by Geoffrey Chaucer rings true. Tides dictate the schedule to a certain extent, especially when sailing through narrow channels that have strong ebb and flow currents. We were about to embark on such a journey from Pirate’s Cove to Nanaimo via Dodd’s Narrows. The weather was a tad murky this morning and we set off up the coast to try to make the first slack to get through the channel.
Of course, briefly forgetting the need to add on the correction for summer time onto the tide tables, we were there too early and our first two attempts to get through Dodd’s Narrows failed. We almost reached the end at full speed but then the strong currents and whirlpools held us there, as if we were frozen in time until we slipped backwards and a forceful eddy swung us right around. No worries, we sailed right back to where we had started and put-putted over to a small island to drop anchor and wait for a couple of hours. There was no need to hurry. We weren’t the only ones waiting for the signs of a turning tide. A couple more sail boats and plenty of power boats of all shapes and sizes, bobbed around, in a somewhat orderly queue, waiting for some brave soul to break rank and run the gauntlet of the channel.
Not to be out done by the powerboaters from the US, Theros was clearly itching to go first (I hadn’t realised she was so competitive) and so we did. We set off about 10 to 15 mins before the time in the tide tables and headed into the channel. A few heart stopping minutes later we reached the eddies and whirlpools that previously held us back. Would we make it through? How embarrassing would it be to turn back in front of all of those other boaters? We were nearly at a standstill, parallel to the last promontory of rock on the left of the channel, willing Theros on and then, with a final push we were through. We motored on at speed towards the grey skyline of Nanaimo in the distance. The day had grown chilly, dull and mizzling. Every now and then we turned to glance over our shoulders to catch a glimpse of a flotilla of boats motoring through the Narrows in our wake. It felt good!
As Nanaimo Harbour came into view, Brett radioed ahead to find out if there was space at the dock and it was a tad busy, so we decided to queue up to refuel while we waited. Theros circled with the other sail boats, like a shiver of lazy sharks, waiting for the fuel dock to clear. Eventually we fuelled up and the wharfinger (sounds like a character from Game of Thrones doesn’t it?) confirmed that we could dock for the night next to the police boat! (Did they know we were coming?). I guess this meant we had to be on our best behaviour! We were not alone. I caught my first glimpse of a sea otter, which flopped onto the boardwalk in front of us in search of a tasty snack and, as quick as a flash, vanished into the water.
Next it was time for some domestic chores and we hauled a big sail bag full of laundry along the walkway to the dockside launderette, popped across to Thrifty’s for some groceries, picked up a box of assorted Timbits from Tim Hortons and then we relaxed for a while at Trollers, where we downed fresh fish and chips. Finally, a hot shower warmed us up before bed. Aaah bliss!
Chop, chop to Jedediah
Feeling rested, we were up reasonably early and ready to go. The challenge of the day was crossing the Georgia Strait to Jedediah Island, which lies between Lasqueti and Texada islands. The wind was up sufficiently for us to hoist the sails and not depend so much on the engine. Theros glided majestically through the water, heeling over as she picked up speed. This was the up side to this morning’s leg. The down side was that the weather conditions created “a bit of a chop”, so they say, in the Strait.
“A bit of a chop”, really? All this time I thought us Brits were kings of the understatement but noooo, I think Canadian mariners top them (in this context). The “bit of a chop” manifested itself in a multitude of 10 to 15 ft waves, that relentlessly rocked and rolled Theros for a good few hours. Dancing between breakers, Brett skillfully steered the boat bow to the waves, when the waves were really big and stern to, when they were smaller to prevent them hitting us beam on to reduce the rolling. I thought I’d be in for a spot of seasickness but amazingly enough I wasn’t (unlike my voyage aboard the Lord Nelson, when I threw up three days straight at the beginning of the voyage). Perhaps I’m finding my sea legs!
The rock and rolling nautical style abated as we neared Texada and Lasqueti islands and soon Theros took us smoothly into Deep Bay on Jedediah Island, where we anchored and stern-tied in one of the few remaining spots.
What a surprise! Our friends on Compadre and Tobago were here, their boats nestled cosily together further into the bay. We dinghied straight over, dished out the remaining Timbits and discovered that they had been waiting out the stormy weather for the last few days and were running out of food. Were they glad to see us! Yes, indeed, we brought over a stash of goodies and Isabelle, Laurie and I had a good natter while cooking up a feast for us all, which we enjoyed outside in Compadre’s cockpit and shared stories until the sun disappeared behind the steep, forested cliffs.
Deep Bay is notorious for the offshore squalls that can suddently blow down from the mountains, called ‘williwaws’ (pronounced willy-wars, interesting…sounds like a group of macho humanitarians at a coordination meeting). I wondered whether we would have a peaceful night’s sleep but I needn’t have worried. I fell asleep to the gentle lapping of the water against the sides of the boat.
Our friends left at 5.00 am the following morning, eager to return home to Pender Harbour. A beautiful day greeted us so Brett and I decided to explore the island on foot. We hiked along the dappled forest trails, into marshland filled with rushes and onward through grassy meadowlands, where feral sheep ambled and grazed. I stopped to admire the foxgloves and meadow plants.
At one time a farming family lived on the island. Nowadays, noone resides there but echoes of the past called to us from the derelict wooden homestead, standing melancholy on a cliff edge, overlooking a picturesque cove.
Local legend states that the ghost of Will, the old, wild horse, which lived on the island for many years, still roams free…
Want to know what happened next?
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Until next time, peace, love and light,