7:16 Reminiscent of France

I awoke with a start … a start of the generator, that is. And since I was up anyway and not having much of a good hair day, I decided to head for the showers.

A nice hot shower and back on board. We talked it over and decided to head for Saturna Island and the winery there and to end up in Ganges. After housekeeping and engine checks we fired up the diesels and got ready to cast off. At which point we realized we needed to fill the water tanks. So we switched off and filled up.

We decided with the light wind I would cast off and walk the boat back, then turn 90 degrees into the finger behind. Then I could go forward, turn 90 degrees to starboard and slide between the aluminum boat and the 50 footer. Oddly enough it all went as planned.

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We headed north(ish) at a stately 10 knots and up Saanich Inlet we went. Eventually we turned east and ducked between Sidney and Portman Island. The we rounded the south of Moresby Island and South Pender before turning north into Plumper Sound. Along the way we spotted a couple of dolphins (or porpoises). Alas, they had better things to do than follow us around, so the glimpses were momentary.

About 5 minutes out we rounded Croaker Point and surveyed our destination with binoculars. The dock was open so I elected to head there. The wind was perfect and all I had to do was bring the boat parallel to the dock and we gently bumped the fenders and the crew stepped off.

Dock, Walk and Booze

After we tied up we grabbed our stuff and headed up hill along the track. Eventually a sign said bistro and winery 15 minutes ahead. It started to remind us of our trip in Burgundy. Up, up, up, slog, slog, slog. Eventually we crested the hill and descended down to the winery. As we came around the edge of the buildings, C spotted the ‘complementary’ rosemary and started to help herself. That’s when it really started to remind me of France.

A lovely young man spotted us as we entered and said the magic words: “Would you like to taste some wine?”

So we sampled some tasty Rieslings, a lovely Pinot Gris, some bruts and even a not-quite-port. We picked up a few bottles for home and stepped away from the bar some pretty happy campers. It really was eerily like the day trip we took in Burgundy — except for the ride, that is. On that fateful day the lovely young man offered us a ride back to our boat and Leslie and and C blurted in unison “No thank-you…” before I could say “Sure!” I’ve been mad at them ever since as I had to hump multiple bottles of wine over hill and dale in the oppressive heat of the Burgundian countryside. At least this time no one was offering …

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We decided to stay for lunch. We enquired about oysters but no luck. The lovely young man did offer to call his wife currently on a shopping trip to Victoria to pick some up if we were willing to stick around for dinner. We demurred. L and C had tomato soup and I stayed safe with a BLT wrap. Delish! After we settled up we saddled up and started the slog back to the boat. It was a lovely day although we could see some clouds on the horizon. About halfway back L said jokingly that full disclosure demanded she tell me that the lovely young man had in fact offered us a ride back to the boat. I smiled and said, “Ha-ha.” She replied, “No, I’m serious.”

After C pulled me off of L’s half-gnawed ankle, I took a breath and enquired as to why, for the second time, L would turn down a ride whilst we were in the middle of nowhere with heavy bottles of wine? Her answer was, of course, nonsensical.

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Anyway, we eventually reached the boat and since the wind was pinning the boat so helpfully against the dock, we summoned our holo-Tim and decided to pivot off a stern line. Surprise, surprise, it worked out wonderfully. We set course for Navy Channel and steamed away. Since the weather looked a bit dim I stayed inside and it was a pleasant hour and a bit to Ganges. Leslie chickened out and phoned ahead to Salt Spring Marina to reserve a slip; the VHF scares her, I think. But we got in a pole dance or two on the way and the now famous crack spread move was applauded by all.

As we slowed down on the entrance to Ganges we radioed that we were coming in. We’d requested an easy slip and they gave us Alpha 8, a bow in, starboard side tie. I elected to back in with a port-side tie. Well, that was a mistake: first off, they had misinformed me as to the proper tie so we had to scramble to switch over. Next I lost all sense of what I was doing and tried to back around a 90-degree corner to expected results. I managed not to sideswipe the Bayliner 4588 ‘Rhubarb’ by jumping on his deck and pushing off. Our neighbors were out in full force to help, and among the 6 or 7 of us finally managed to get it on the right dock and relatively stationary. Boaters are nice people. Even the guy behind us only offered a small smile when I apologized for the show.

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First up was a beer at Moby’s and our long-sought-after oysters. The brochure said they were a sure bet for fresh sea food. Nope. Not even on the menu. So L resorted to reading a Salt Spring brochure and then phoning around for oysters. After a quick call to Greg at OysterCatcher we discovered they had two bays of oysters available. So we chugged our beer and marched off to town.

After we snagged a seat on the deck at OysterCatcher I skipped down to the public dock to check it out. I left instructions to order the oysters and one of whatever C was drinking; she’s usually pretty reliable. I came back to Raspberry Mojitos. Sigh. You can’t trust girls. Anyway, the public docks are a bit cheaper but rafting is mandatory.

Back at the bar our oysters eventually arrived in a bed of ice with horseradish and champagne mignonette. C and I prepared ourselves and slurped. You know what? They were great! So great in fact we bullied L into trying some too and ordered another 6. Still delish. C and I tried our last ones au natural and I have to admit they weren’t half bad.
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We stopped in at Thrifty’s on the way home and stocked up on butter and mustard. I blame Tim for using them up so quickly. šŸ™‚ Back on the boat it was meat time. We’d bought some inch-and-a-half strip loins and were looking forward to dinner. C whipped up some fingerling taters with stolen rosemary and garlic and we popped them in the microwave to get the cooking started. After we transferred them to the BBQ, it was time to conjure up a delicious tomato salad with cherry tomatoes and to prep the meat.

While the BBQ was BBQ’ing our neighbour from Rhubarb stopped by to chat. Apparently he was a huge Bayliner 3885 fan and wanted to reminisce. Eventually he wandered home and the meat hit the hot, hot grill. After the application of perfect grill marks as per C’s usual style, we anxiously awaited the finished product by sucking back wine and whining about being hungry.

Dinner was excellent. Super excellent. I have to commend Grace for teaching her baby girl the right way to wrangle meat; my stomach appreciates it :-). Although I suspect there is a certain amount of native talent involved. But in the end I don’t care as long as I get to eat.

Sated and full, I retired to the aft deck to catch up blogging and watch a glorious mauve sunset.

What a wonderful night.
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7:17 Bossy Bear

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Morning rain in Ganges. Around 5 or 6 we had a short rain so Leslie popped up to check the hatches; one of the down sides of being in a boat is that overhead hatches need to be closed in rain or wavy conditions.

A few hours later we awoke to blue sky and a stiff wind. We had pretty much decided to stay a day in Ganges and the wind just made it a sure thing. A nice shower at the marina pried my eyes open a bit more. Breakfast was toast, butter and my Mom’s homemade jam, imported especially for me by me.

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Rhubarb had pulled out during my shower so we were alone in our slip. Then it finally occurred to us we hadn’t booked our flights home yet. I guess subconsciously we were thinking we would pull a Minnow and be stranded on an island or something. After a lot of shuffling and backs and forths we settled on a seaplane out of Nanaimo and a 2 o’clock flight back from YVR. Since we’d missed advance seat sales the pricing actually turned out a bit less and there was less hassle with security, etc.

Next up we grabbed our coats against the wind and headed into town. At the first gallery we got away with just some spicy soap and a lovely small collage. The soap is smelly and hangs in blocks off a string. You just remove one from the bottom to use and allow the others to continue to smell up the place.

A few stores later and we ended up at Black Sheep Books. There was a Nick Bantock room there and a few Bantock originals on the wall. Cool. We escaped with only two books: an editing one for L and the history of beavers (in the fur trade) for C. I count myself lucky there were weight restrictions on the seaplane.

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A couple more galleries followed. In the last one there were these awesome bear bronzes with attitude. They so reminded me if someone who isn’t Leslie. Bossy and over ‘bear’ ing… :-). There was also a large reddish soapstone carving of a bear about 2 feet long and a foot and a half high. As you approached it from the back side you noticed the bear’s bottom had a white chunk of stone right in the middle. It looked kinda funny … you know … like poop. Pretty soon every time you walked by you found yourself staring and giggling at the bear’s ass … and then when you walked around front you could see a sheepish look on his face. I guess he was em ‘bear’-assed!

Upon exiting the gallery we stopped at Auntie Pesto’s for mussels, chowder and panini. Not bad. Especially with the glass of pinot gris. After lunch we strolled up to a few other galleries and in the last one we saw some of the best leather bags ever. Alas, no one had money or space for these loverly creations and we sadly left them behind.

Somewhere around here I pointed out a hill in the distance and C started looking around for a milf. Now I have finally, albeit reluctantly, acknowledged I mumble a bit, but it would take an awful dirty mind to turn ‘hill’ into ‘milf’; but I guess I now know where to find an awful dirty mind if ever I should need one.

We cut across the park as we headed back to the boat. There was a small market just packing up. At a few of the shops earlier in the day we had encountered these bags made from recycled suit jackets and had been talking about how cool they were. Lo and behold, the artist was just closing up shop in the little market. We chatted to her about her work and she offered to custom make some bags if we had any sentimental old suits or coats sitting around. www.rumahkampung.com. There had been a big satchel made from a Le Chateau coat that I really liked. Maybe I will look into it.

Then it was winery time. We trucked up another long, long hill to Mistaken Identity Winery for some sampling. Overall the wines were meh, but we picked up a nice dessert wine anyway. At least no one offered us a ride home.

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On the walk back along the pier to the boat C started spouting off loudly to L (who was right behind us) about all things related to Bruce and poop, going on about how offended she was by the combination or something like that–I wasn’t really listening. Unfortunately the person right behind us was in fact the lady Leslie had held the gate open for and Leslie was currently 30 feet back and out of earshot; not so the lady. Now I won’t say C was em’bear’assed, but she sure did hide behind me as we paused to let L catch up. Back on board C and I shared a big beer and L had a cider before trundling off to shower and all was good.

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A bit of a break and then we broke out the Ports and Passes and planned tomorrow’s itinerary. We want to be back in Nanaimo tomorrow so we can fill up the tanks and be ready to get in early Friday morning. Since we have to transit Dodd Narrows at, or around, 1:30 (although with the power boat we can fudge that an hour either way pretty easily) we just count back from there. It looks like about 2.8 hrs at 10 knots so if we are gone by 11–which is checkout time– we should be golden.

Dinner is French toast and tomato salad. Again I find the electrical in this boat is hinky. I had put out the splitters so L could heat some hot water (which is on line 2) without changing over the power cord again (the range is on line 1), but now it seems we can’t run the range and the stove top at the same time. Very weird system…

The wind is still pretty gusty so we will have some good rock-a-roo to lull us to sleep tonight. The Recess, a Beneteau 32 also from Nanaimo Yacht Charters, is in tonight as well. She is the boat that had dingy problems in Montague Bay the night we were there and ended up having the girl row back while the young man manfully fussed over the dead outboard. A nautical variation of the shucks-we-ran-out-of-gas ploy?

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This morning we spotted a gaggle of geese. Later in the AM they had morphed into a kettle of kayakers. And while we were downtown the transmuted into a pack of skateboarders. We kept an eye out but the shapeshifter horde seemed to have retired for the day. Then, just before 9, out the aft window we spotted 2 swans and a passel of cygnets. Obviously our horde was back.

We broke out the heels of bread and leftover French toast and treated them to treats.

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After we ran out of munchies, Papa rounded up the horde and sailed off in search of better pickings. We retired back to our rosƩ to ponder ugly ducklings and chat about people, family, advertising and stuff.

We finished the night with the dregs of See Ya Later’s Jimmy my Pal, a Syrah and a bag of Orville Redenbacher’s Dill Pickle popcorn.

7:18 Faster Faster Pussycat

Last night and today we have amused ourselves coming up with boat names. Some of the more reasonable suggestions have been Rabbit Hole or Bijee Bijee (Ueker-anian for hurry hurry). Some of the unreasonable ones include Dirty Fresh Pants or … It really got going when dinghy names were thrown in the hat. I liked Dinghy Dong while Leslie was partial to Cod Piece. Now all we need is a boat.

Morning brought a shower and toasted begrudged blueberry English muffins. Afterwards I checked out the engines and decided to top up the water tank. Our neighbour in Penalty Box was already using the hose so I amused myself for 10 minutes. Next time I looked up Windy I had his hose out and waiting. Sigh. Then Windy I informed me that the water had stopped. So I headed down the dock checking the valves. Eventually I came upon a repairman fixing a faucet. “A-ha,” I exclaimed. He informed me it would be 5 minutes. I headed back and informed everyone of the delay. 15 minutes later I gave up since I figured the 65′ Windy I would take a bit to fill up.

Meanwhile C had headed to the patisserie at the dockside for coffee. Apparently my instant was wearing on her. I had stopped in yesterday and the lovely French lady tried to sell me on pain au chocolate and croissants. No baguettes, though: that would have really made it like France.

Anyway, having given up on water and having a schedule to keep, my inner antsy decided it was time to cast off. A brief discussion brought us to the conclusion that I could drive straight ahead after the merest of pushes off the dock and them use the empty slip in front to swivel my bow around. It pretty much happened exactly like that. A boat was just about to enter our finger, but he backed off when he saw us exiting.

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Out of Ganges Harbour and up Trincomali Channel, and then we scooted into Houston Passage to swing by Conover Cove for a peak. Someone was right behind me so I looped back and waved him in since we weren’t stopping. He got the last spot at the dock and I felt virtuous …

Just before we reached Wallace Island (where Conover Cove is) we heard a Victoria Coast call about a boat adrift off Atkins Reef in Trincomali Channel. I asked L to look up where that was for interest’s sake, but Trincomali Channel is pretty long and odds were we weren’t anywhere near. Turns out we had passed Atkins Reef about 10 minutes earlier and I could have made it back in under 5 if I opened up the throttles. But between the fact that others were responding and I wouldn’t know what to do anyway, we just maintained our heading and listened along on the radio.

I was going to duck past Mowgli Island back into Trincomali, but we spotted a hovercraft in Clam Bay so I stayed our course and scooted by him. It was a Coast Guard hovercraft and I think he was doing buoy maintenance. Unfortunately he was shut down by the time we got there but it gave me an excuse to run the Pearl up to 19 knots for about 4 minutes. Fun stuff; too bad it triples gas consumption.

I went below and fired up the generator because I needed a cup of coffee. I wasn’t sure if running the generator under way was acceptable but Google’s consensus was it was fine: “How else could you run your air conditioning?” It sure is a sign of the times when I can Google boating questions while under way. Not sure why we bother to learn anything… :-). Anyway, Leslie ran the helm from the fly bridge while I coffeed up.

40 minutes or so later we approached Dodd Narrows at almost exactly slack. Perfect planning on my part or dumb luck? A little of both, I guess. We transited smoothly and headed up Northumberland Channel on our way back to Nanaimo. L went below and a few minutes later my lunch appeared courtesy of the magic C-fairy. No one joined me on the windy bridge to eat, though.

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Into Nanaimo Harbour and we headed for the fuel dock; I wanted to fuel up to night to save time in the AM. There was a lovely 1920s-era wood boat at the dock and for a moment I was going to chicken out and circle around after he’d left. Eventually pride got the better of me and I brought my behemoth in smoothly in front of the old boat: probably my best dock of the trip. 550+ dollars later and the tanks were full. We cast off and putted back towards Mark Bay and our date with a mooring buoy; we didn’t unship the anchor once this trip.

We picked out a buoy close in to Newcastle Island and C snagged it neatly from the swim grid. Too bad this is our last day; we might be getting good at this. We lowered the tender, shut off the engines and slathered on some sun screen. It was 3 pm by now and we wanted to do some exploring of Newcastle Island. I rearranged the dinghy seating; previously we had tried Someone in back and someone in front as well as Someone in back and someone beside me. Both times the dinghy ran pretty slow. This time I tried L in the bow and C beside me. L got a bit wet at low speeds as we slapped into waves and wakes, but after we got free of the anchorage I opened her up and she popped up on a plane sweet as could be. Again, too bad it’s our last night. Anyway we zipped around for giggles for a bit and then headed into the docks. As we arrived we realized that once again no one had noted the bouy number. Out into the bay, crank the throttle and zoom around the outside back to our boat. I’m pretty sure we were making some wakes for everyone, but hell, we were young and enjoying ourselves.

A smooth docking with the dinghy (something else I am finally mastering) and we headed onto the island. This island is a park run by natives with beaches and trails and some interpretive stuff. We bought an ice cream cone or three (maple walnut of L and B, Nanaimo for C) and walked along the trails. Near the docks was an old quarry where they used to get pulp millstones from for shipping across the continent. Giant tubes of sandstone were cut from the ground and used to grind wood into pulp.

Eventually we followed a trail that took us to the foot of the bay and we doffed our shoes and paddled (not piddled) in the warm water. It’s a great view and quiet and peaceful. After a bit we dried off and headed in the general direction of the docks. We toodled around the point and eventually arrived back at the tender. Aboard once more I scooted across the channel to the public docks and we ogled the rich and famous aboard 60ft-plus yachts. Back into the channel I zoomed around a bit hopping wakes for the entertainment of crew and then slowly threaded our way back to the Ocean Pearl.

An ice-cold beer awaited (our last) and we savoured the taste as we relaxed and ate yet another bag of Doritos. After a bit C started to growl and we sent her off to the galley to play with our evening’s loin. I contributed a beautifully made foil bag for veggies and started the BBQ (which in reality is a Sea-B-Que) and then settled back to blog while dinner magically transformed itself from raw flaccid meat into delicious C-loin: which is different from sea lion. Oh, and I poured some wine … I am sooooo helpful!

What can I say. Meat magic. Sigh.

What followed was a drunken discussion of faith with a sidebar on Christianity and pre-seasoned goose. And the night faded into a 2.5 bottle of red evening…

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Oh, and ask me some day about the Ukrainian Bastille Day and the gift of the pop-up Karma Sutra…


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7:19 Dong Wait Done

Bright and early we were up and around. I started the generator and flipped the breaker for the range and hot water. I packed up and organized the stuff in the cabin while waiting for the water to boil.

After a nice cup of coffee I had a quick shower and put on my last clean shirt. While L putzed around packing and readying I pulled up the tender and put out the fenders. Eventually C and I slipped the bow line from the mooring bouy and putted off to the waste pump out.

My docking was pretty good and we hooked up and sucked the grunge out the holding tanks. After casting off we headed one last time down the channel to Stones Marina.

I had been promising to show C the giant cylinder of rock I had spotted earlier. I originally was going to take the dinghy so we had named it the dinghy dong. But every time we were down that way I kept forgetting. This morning, however, we finally found it and it was fine. Good even.

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One last dock at the fuel dock and we pumped in another $5 of diesel. Then Ian came over to take us in. Turned out though we were just skipping ahead 2 spots so he invited me to do it. I said sure and confidently pulled out. Then I saw the tiny spot we were aiming for. I think Ian neglected that tidbit on purpose.

Anyway I managed ok with a bit of coaching from Ian and we shut off the engines for the last time. Clean up was quick and we offloaded our stuff into a cart and rolled it off the wharf.

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Garbage and recycling done, we dropped off the keys and slowly walked away from the marina, sad and tearful.

Walking back to the bags I passed a man in his workshop declaiming loudly. He was basically complaining about what was wrong with the world. Ironically enough his main thesis was that “Whiners and complainers rule the world.” I refrained from pointing the irony out though.

Check in at SeaAir had us just under the baggage weight allowance and we settled in for a bit of a wait as we were about an hour early. There is rumour we will be flying in a Beaver but we will have to wait and see.

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Sure enough an hour and a bit later a classic Beaver landed in front of us. We walked down and loaded up. Another couple took the back seat and I once again lucked out with the copilot’s seat. The flight was speedy and low altitude and in a surprisingly crowded air space; we even saw a Coast Guard helicopter zooming by. Our little rodent was a beautiful DH2 Beaver, serial #1000 built in 1956. I absolutely love these planes; if there is anything we Canadians should be bragging about its our early aerospace industry. It really makes the nonsense that went on during theĀ Diefenbaker administration all that more shameful.

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Soon enough we were landing on the Fraser River. I got to say that this is the way to travel. Minimal security and no crowds. After we got off, we headed off the dock and few minutes later we jumped inĀ their shuttle. All in all it was 1.5 hours from marina to the other side of Vancouver security.

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On the way to Security we were amused by a dancing beaver and his friend the moose. They were doing it Gangam Style. Beavers were certainly a bit of a recurring theme this year. We stopped by Vera’s for some dogs and fries and chill-axed for an hour or so waiting for our flight. Everyone is plenty tired but I’m a bit wistful about leaving. That’s to be expected I guess. Sigh.

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Soon enough we boarded our flight and zoomed off for home. About half way home they announced that YEG was socked in and we had to circle in a holding pattern for at least 20 minutes. Seems a small thunderstorm was over the airport. By the time we’d landed the roads were dry so it must have been pretty small.

Luggage, truck, 35 minutes on the Henday and we were home. We picked up a few essentials at Sobey’s on the way and dropped out bags in the condo. I guess the vacation is over.


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7:21 Boating postscript

So the question is: do we like sailing or power boating? As Ian from Nanaimo Yacht Charters put it, it is sort of like comparing a hiking holiday to a beach vacation: they both have their place. And I guess that is why I wanted to try both. I think overall I like sailing a bit better; it is more physical and the sailboats are works of art. But I started this whole thing in my head last year in the Alsace when I realized I couldn’t keep flying to France and renting a canalboat for a boating fix: the flights were killing me. As I suspected, our vacation on the Pearl was very much like a Ā canal boat trip. 3 or 4 hours of cruising and an afternoon of touristy stuff or just plain relaxing. There is tons to see and do in the Gulf Islands alone and then there is also the Sunshine Coast and Desolation Sound to throw in.

Based on that I think we might stick with the powerboats for a while. I still want to put in the sailing hours, but maybe I can do that on local lakes. If I am going to fly out to the coast to relax, I might just be better served to pop around in the speed, comfort and luxury of a powerboat. But then again, if I switch to trawlers or slower boats, I will be doing the same 7 knots that a good sailboat can pull under power.

Oh well, I have a year to figure it all out and a crew’s opinion to weigh. Time will tell I guess.

And now, back to your regularly scheduled beaver and bunny show…