Thursday’s Child is a almost new Hunter 33 we first encountered at the Hunter Rendezvous last year. This year she is anchored off our stern in Protection Bay in Nanaimo’s harbour. What’s notable about her is not evident in the above picture.
This morning I was enjoying the almost noon sun in our cockpit when I glanced up and saw a dinghy floating off the shoals at the entrance to Newcastle Island Passage. At second glance I noticed that there was no one in said dinghy. It occurred to me it might be tied off to a float or anchored, but as I watched it really did look like it was drifting. So I hopped in Laughing Baby and putted off to check. As I circled it, it appeared it did have a line in the water but on closer inspection I determined that line was not attached to anything. A quick glance revealed no overt identification although there was a bag with a towel. I grabbed the submerged line and started slowly back to Never for Ever, scanning the shore and the docks for anyone frantically waving.
Back at our boat I had a closer look, but there didn’t seem to be anything that indicated the owners other than a dog’s life jacket and the aforementioned bag with woman’s shower gear. So L cast me off again as we had decided I would head for the docks as the first likely place to ask around. As I circled the boat, I noticed Thursday’s Child was sans dinghy and thought I would hail her on the way by, just in case. Sure enough the owner popped up with a confused look on her face wondering what I was doing with her dinghy. She was obviously relieved as there is nothing quite so unnerving as being stuck on a boat with no way to get to shore. Since she was in the midst of an important call, we tied off the boat, exchanged names and thanks and I zoomed back home. All’s well that ends well.
Low Tide and The Last Few Days
For what it’s worth, our itinerary, since leaving Victoria for good, has been Montague Harbour, Wallace Island and Nanaimo. And the supposedly steady south winds have been determinedly north—right on the nose the whole way. We did manage an hour or two of beating int 20 knot winds while waiting for slack at Dodds Narrows.
The last few days have had some extraordinary low tides, all less than a foot of datum. So we decided, obviously, to spend them in the shallowest cove around: Conover Cove on Wallace Island. We had attempted to visit numerous times before but the small cove has always previously been filled to capacity. We pulled in just after low tide and as soon as we hit the bar we hit 0′ on the depth meter. Now I have my meter set for 6′ below the zero mark which gives me about a 2.5 foot buffer. Usually I am glad for that, but in this particular case it was unnerving to not actually know my real depth. We set up to stern tie in a fairly strong NW wind and managed to do a great job of it; except for one small thing. We had initially set the anchor stern into the wind, parallel to the shore. This allowed me to row ashore and get a line tied off without the stern swinging downwind and me having to wrestle it back like int previous attempts. What I failed to account for in my brilliant plan was that this meant the anchor would have to swing almost 180° to reset in the strong wind hitting us on the beam and that my scope didn’t really take into account the actual distance from the shore. As it was we did successfully tie up with a strong wind hitting us on the beam, the stern sitting in 5.5′ of water (I measured), 35′ of chain out and an anchor that I wasn’t 100% had reset. And the tide tomorrow was going to be about .3 of foot lower.
So I hummed, hawed, dithered and rowed to the dock to see if there was space, and then decided to move the boat tot he dock. And there we sat for 3 days. And every day around noon, the three or so sailboat skippers would start peering into the water below their keels. No one actually touched bottom but Private Passage, the Hunter Vision 36, figured they had scant inches left on one particular afternoon.
The other effect of the low low tides (and high high as well—one day there was a difference of over 14 feet), was that the bar I had blithely motored across to enter Conover Cove caught two less lucky sailors out. The first motored slowly into the sandier center bit and got hung up for 4 or 5 minutes before backing out and heading for deeper waters. The second, a lovely custom Ted Brewer, hit the rocky portion on the north side of the entrance with a resounding clang and hung up. Luckily the tide was still rising. Unluckily the tide was still rising and a strong current kept pushing the stern closer to shore. After a tense 10 minutes or so, she finally floated off and cleared the rocky shore line with room to spare. Undaunted by his miscalculation the skipper brought her around through the center of the entrance and joined us on the dock a few minutes later none the worse for wear.
I also learned another helpful tidbit about naming boats. I gave them a call on the VHF to see if they needed anything but they didn’t answer. Who did answer after my second call was Victoria Coast Guard. Seems that Judith Anne sounds a bit too close to Pan Pan and they wanted to clarify my enunciation. I guess that takes HeyDay off the list of potential boat names.
The upside of low low tides is it did afford us some great beachcombing and a fascinating hour of floating in the sandy shallows watching the fingerlings, baby crabs and burbling clams, and a fun afternoon checking out the exposed rocks. We spotted some starfish (so happy to see them making a comeback) and what I believe were sea cucumbers (above) as well as the requisite clams, oysters, mussels and of course barnacles. The cove itself was filled with birds, from swallows and hummingbirds to a pair of vultures and we were entertained by both osprey and Bald Eagles fishing.
I do have to say though, as nice as Wallace Island is, I think I prefer Portland. More nature, less people and somehow more serene.
We are in Nanaimo for a few days doing some errands and then plan on heading up the Sunshine Coast to Desolation Sound. Still waiting for those south winds though.