5:1 Calm at last

Morning broke. Like always. Stupid mornings. We slept in as it was a calm and quiet evening. Tim was already up and sipping tea when I crawled out of our cabin, disheveled and 3/4 asleep.

The local morning seal was checking out the anchorages and greeting all the sleepyheads in the bay. We decided to explore so we unshipped the dingy sans motor and filled it up with a bit more air. Tim took it out and checked out the the anchor in the clear water.

After Leslie was up and about we boarded the dingy and rowed around the bay and eventually tied up on the rocks by the missing dinghy dock. Then we took a nice walk around the island. We saw some beautiful wild flowers and an old apple orchard planted by the island’s past inhabitants. It’s a national park now. One of the apples close to the shore was simply covered in old man’s moss.

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Eventually we meandered back to the dinghy and reboarded the At Last. We hauled anchor and made several turns around the bay, setting a new anchor each time. At one point we tested the anchor with one engine, then two and finally got it to move with two engines and about 1/4 throttle. Good exercise.

While we were doing all this a 40-50 ft sail boat came in and anchored, then set a stern line to one of the dingy dock pilings. They too were just practicing and Tim recognized the instructor. We motored over and had a quick chat before they weighed anchor and we made one more pass. This time I took the dingy in and we tried a stern line too. Not too easy with the short rope we had on board but we got it done.

With Leslie at the helm we decided to exit the bay and make the transit to Bedwell Harbour, south around Moresby Island. On the way we saw one of the S.A.L.T. tall  ships practicing with its load of kids. We also spotted After Eight, a gorgeous luxury yacht owned by Don Wheaton. We discovered that spotting the entrance to Bedwell Harbour between North and South Pender was as hard as Tim had said. His hint was as you came past Point Fairfax on Moresby, you lined up on a radio tower on Saturna Island behind South Pender; that worked pretty well.

On the way we played with trim tabs and engine speeds and got a feel for how the attitude of the boat changed as we made fine adjustments. The water was calm for a change so we were better able to see what was happening. Tim had also hauled out the brand new chart plotter the day before so we played with it a bit. It really makes navigating redundant until he took it away from us; then we needed to fall back in charts and nav aids.

At the Pender Islands we docked in one of the empty fingers at Poets Cove and had some lunch. Then it was cast off and dock, dock, dock on the lee side of docks. I would say that Leslie was a much prettier docker than I. The number of times she brought the boat in with all three fenders touching at the same time was phenomenal. To be fair to me, though, I was busy making things harder on myself with invisible boats and strange approaches. It’s hard stuff and with the twin screws it is easier to maneuver but easier to cock it up if things start going bad and you panic. And I have to admit I was doing a lot of panicking when the wind would interfere with my carefully laid plans. Tim was calm as toast throughout and we managed not to wreck anything, including my ego… a bit bruised though.

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We finished up with a bunch of close-quarters maneuvering around the docks and harbour. It was a beautiful day, sunny and warmish.

At 5:30 we headed into the narrows between North and South Pender, and Leslie piloted us under the bridge. Again a very deceptive entrance and you have to trust the buoys and the depth sounder as you steer the blind corner. Lucky for her there was no traffic coming the other direction to make it harder.

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We exited Port Browning and headed up Plumber Sound towards Ganges on Saltspring Island. Again we got some exercise ID’ing buoys and avoiding Perry Rock and and the rocks off Hope Bay. We generally weren’t using the chart plotter at this point.

We spotted lots of seals and porpoises going into Navy Channel. There must have been some good feeding there. The seals got close but the porpoises were always keeping their distance. I thought about complaining, but realized they were probably union rules or some such thing. 🙂

The channel also had two huge cargo ships at anchor, waiting, Tim said, to cross the strait to Vancouver when it was their turn.

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We pulled into Ganges late. Leslie brought us into the Harbour and I brought us into the dock. We decided to eat ashore and headed for the Oyster Catcher. There was a Vancouver game on so we ate upstairs. We had a celebratory beer, and Tim and Leslie opted for the fresh halibut as recommended by the patron on the patio; I had a burger to be different.

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As we left a young woman was seated outside on the patio and greeted us with a smile and a “Man am I ever wasted”. I guess her night was going well. Back on the boat we hit our bunks and drifted off to sleep.


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