I had been bugging a buddy of mine to go sailing for years now and he finally managed to get a week off…in the middle of October! But what the hell, Never for Ever has a heater…
We also talked another old buddy into tagging along—this would be the first “road trip” we had taken since just after high school—exciting stuff. As I had previously mentioned neither had much experience on boats so I was a tad nervous about making sure everything was right.
I arrived early to make sure everything was ready and to sort through our stuff in storage for anything I wanted on our short cruise. Midday I walked over and met Brian S (did I mention both my friends are named Brian?) at the Seaair terminal and and brought him back to introduce him to the boat. Then we grabbed the courtesy car and made a provisioning run.
The next afternoon Brian R arrived and we finished off the “last minute” (insert the word booze) provisioning and, since we had missed slack at Dodd’s, went out for dinner.
We did spend an hour or so running around on some last minute errands. We couldn’t find the sides of the enclosure (they were stuffed in a locker) and the bloody Webasto wouldn’t fire up. This turned out to be one of the major flaws in my plan. The Webasto hadn’t been run since May and something had gummed it up. We tried again and again through the trip to get it running but in the end we did it without any heat.
We were off the dock at 1159 and hit Dodds just before the 1350 slack with Brian R at the helm. A half dozen or so sea lions were frolicking and hunting in the current and a few of them seemed like they were playing chicken with us as we squeezed through the narrows. It was a sunny, calm day and there was no wind so we motored all the way to Pirates Cove and I let the crew maneuver us around the shoals and in through the narrow entrance.
Apparently my instructions were clear and coherent because the two Brians managed to drop the anchor and get us secured in the centre of the cove with no issues. We crowded aboard Laughing Baby (three grown men apparently take up a lot more space than just Leslie and I) and rowed ashore to hike around. Unfortunately it was close to high tide so we didn’t see much along the shoreline but had a nice tromp though the woods regardless.
We were off the anchor by 0945 and after just a few miles the winds started to climb and we hauled out the sails. They stayed a steady 12-15 knots as we tacked back and forth down Plyades Channel and into Trincomali. My stalwart crew kept the sails up and we beat right past Reid Island and into Houston Passage.
Eventually our tacks were getting broader and broader and the wind was dying enough that our progress south was almost non-existent. So we reluctantly hauled in the sails and started up the motor. The winds did pick up again but by that time it was getting late and we just wanted to get into Ganges.
We tied up on B dock at the Ganges Marina right at 4:30 and then headed into town to explore. There was some interest in real estate potential so we picked up some flyers and debated the pros and cons of living on Saltspring Island before heading to the Oystercatcher for dinner.
It was another nice day as we cast off around 1130 hours and motored out of Ganges Harbour. An hour later with the Channel Islands just ahead we (I think it was Brian S) spotted a spout just ahead which we quickly identified as a pod of orca.
I took over the wheel and sent the crew forward with cameras rolling. For almost the next hour and half a pod of 8 or 9 orcas led the way as we rounded Beaver Point and headed to Portland Island. At one point they completely disappeared only to reemerge about 100 feet off our port side. Needless to say everyone was ecstatic. We didn’t lose sight of them until we angled away to head for Royal Cove and they seemingly headed into Fulford.
We stern tied in Royal Cove around 1400 and once again headed ashore to explore. A short walk took us the middens at Arbutus Point where poked around before heading back to the boat.
It was slightly rainy as we raised the anchor and the winds were predicted to be up. We motored west as we wanted to catch the current up Sansum Narrows. All day the wind and waves built and we were treated to a pretty bouncy ride. Everyone seemed ok with motion (which was a relief). Eventually we had 20–25 knot winds from behind as we cleared the narrows into Stuart Channel. We decided to head for Telegraph Harbour and I called ahead just make sure they were open.
What I failed to asked them was what services they still had. Because we had all been talking about a hot shower and it turns out they had turned the water off and the showers and toilet facilities were all closed. Bummer.
And in all the rain we had been having all day I discovered that what had been, 6 months ago, a small intermittent leak from somewhere near the mast was now a raging torrent. We cleverly rigged up some string to direct the water into a bucket which allowed me to sleep in the salon and stay relatively dry. In case you are wondering I had left the tarp in the storage unit (why on earth would I need that for just 5 days…) and yes, the leak is now fixed in time for winter.
The weather was better when we cast off the next morning and headed for early slack at Dodds. The plan had been to spend the last night at anchor in Nanaimo Harbour, but the winds were predicted to build from the south and some of the crew were jonesing for a hot shower. So we headed to the fuel dock instead (Brian S successfully bringing us alongside) and then tied up in our slip for the last night.
The next day Brian S caught his flight out and Brian R and I cleaned up the boat and stored our gear. The plan had been for us to fly out by Seair the next morning but a fog set in and Seair wasn’t guaranteeing the flights would go on time. We ended up cancelling our flight and hopping on the ferry. It turns out our flight did go, but by that time we were already at YVR waiting to fly back to Edmonton.
All in all it was a great, albeit rushed trip. The lack of heater wasn’t too much of an issue but something to keep in mind for next time. The leak was a bit more of an issue, but who could predict something like that after such a long, dry summer. And I successfully managed my first cruise with new crew. Hey, maybe I am good at this…
A static version of the map for posterity: