Heading South II: Sept 4–6

September 4

We woke up and started to get ready. As per his habit, the boy stayed in bed. This meant I had to retrieve the stern tie myself. Luckily it all went pretty smoothly without any embarrassing slip-ups. We raised anchor and headed out. Dave’s GPS was being finicky getting a signal so we took the lead out the narrow entrance.

An hour or so later we were at Surge Narrows. We had timed it pretty good so I went straight through and hit about 9 knots with the current. Easy-peasy. The wind was coming up so we tried the jib and a few minutes later decided that sailing was possible on a bit of a run. We sailed in variable winds, trying some wing-on-wing and then gybing back and forth trying to make some good time. It was a short run and Dave phoned ahead to Heriot Bay so we had lots of time.

Then we saw the orcas. They were feeding just off the starboard bow. At this point we were thankful for the light winds and sort of just drifted while we watched them circle and thrash in the water. Eventually they moved past us and we watched them for a half an hour or so as they moved off back towards Surge Narrows. Just as we were giving up trying to spot them, a whale watching boat came zooming by headed directly towards them.

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Then we dropped the sails and headed the rest of the way down the Sutil Channel. At the end of the channel no less than 4 more high speed boats loaded with paying customers came screaming up the channel in search of those poor orcas. For the first time I felt sorry for them and a bit disdainful of the whale watching industry. A bit hypocritical I know, but 5 boats for barely six whales? Like I said, poor things.

We tied up in Heriot Bay because Dave had given up and ordered a brand new foot pump; our repairs hadn’t worked. Heriot Bay is a lovely hotel and pub with rickety ramshackle docks and one of the highest moorage rates yet. They say all the money goes to dock improvement, which I really hope is the case, but it does seem a bit off to pay such high rates for tippy docks, bad power and only one fresh water outlet. We did however get our propane tank refilled, as it had run out the evening prior. It had lasted just over a month. The old spare with the outdated valve still had propane left so we had just switched over.

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We headed up the hill to do some shopping. There is a Thrifty’s just up the hill that has great selection and a liquor store. It really is a great stop and of course you can anchor in nearby Rebecca Spit and just dinghy over. We also dumped our garbage and recycling which had been collecting since McNeill.Then we spent a relaxing day and dried out in the sunshine.

We had always intended to make tonight a pub night even if we had followed through on our original plan to anchor out. Turns out there was a band playing and everything. Now we might actually be able to stay late enough to hear them. And it turns out R Shack had met up with old O-dock buddies Paul and Kirsty from Canty, a 34′ Catalina and invited them to join us for pub night as well. It was a party.

They came and gathered us up around 5:30 and we headed up to the pub. The food was great and I chatted to Paul about batteries and power systems. Canty was at anchor so they decided to bail while there was still light, but Leslie, Zak and I hung on with Dave and Margaret to hear the band. They were all old coots and played a great selection of soft rock and oldies. The crowd were mostly locals and regulars and were having a lot of fun. Zak fled after the fourth or fifth tune but we hung on until 10:30 or so. In retrospect I wish we had showed up later and stayed the course. It was a fun evening and it’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed the small town bar atmosphere. Next time.

September 5

The next morning we headed back up the hill for a few last minute purchases. Then I topped up the water tanks and we were good to go. I threw the motor on the dinghy and Zak took off solo to scope out the anchorage while Leslie and I cast off and followed at sailboat speeds.

Canty was anchored at the south end of the spit which was a bit off the beaten track, so we thought we would give it a try. The band of shallow, but not too shallow, water is narrower there so we blew our first anchor attempt. We were set, but I felt our swing would take us too close to shore and the tide was still dropping at least 9 feet by morning. So we tried again and I was pretty happy with it. The winds were SW so we were a bit exposed and it was blowing us onto the shore but they weren’t too strong.

L decided to use up the browning bananas and make banana bread now that we had propane again. Meanwhile R Shack Island showed up and anchored on the far side of Canty even further south down the spit. I dinghy’ed over for a beer and we arranged to meet for a walk later.

Once gathered on shore we walked almost all the way around spit. Zak hung out by the tenders on the beach and carved, while the four of us stretched our legs and enjoyed the terrain. Dave and I bailed as we came back parallel with the dinghies while Les and Margaret headed off for parts unknown. Eventually the intrepid explorers came back and we all took a moment to visit the little bears’ room before heading back to our respective boats. Nice day. I really enjoy the exposed side of Rebecca Spit. The beaches, rocks and monstrous piles of driftwood are so beautiful.

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Dinner was Nachos! Then we broke out the Skip Bo and played by candlelight until I begged to be allowed to go to sleep.

September 6

I awoke to a 6 am text from R Shack stating they were aground. I hopped on deck with the binoculars and sure enough they were tilted on their side at a 45° angle. Yikes. Everyone (and everything) was ok and they just had to wait out the tide to refloat the boat. We perked up some real coffee and I grabbed half the loaf of banana bread and took it over to them since their galley was out of commission. I offered to take M back to Never for Ever to clean up but she declined.

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In the end, all was well. The Shack regained her proper attitude and no damage was done except maybe for a stiff workout out of the old heart rate. We up anchor’d just a bit after our scheduled time of departure (it was going to be a long day to Texada Island) and were soon motoring out of the bay.

L got two calls on the cell from an Ontario number and the second one left a message stating we should call the credit card company. I called in and turns out L and I’s shared card had been compromised. Either that or I had been buying very expensive shoes online. Anyway they told us to cut up both cards and they would send us out new ones. I told them to send them to the house and we would get them later. Its always so amazing and creepy how they catch these things.

A little while later I spied some whale watching boats on our course. Seems the good luck of Zak was on a streak. He unfortunately was still asleep and we didn’t want to wake him. Sucks to be tired 🙂 We were treated to an extraordinary show with some leaps in the air and two smaller orcas playing. As we floated there with our engines off we could here the killer whales breathes and the sound of the whale watchers lecturing his passengers. It was serene and surreal. On of out best experiences ever. It is hard to imagine that before this trip we had never spotted killer whales in the wild. Now we were up to 40 or 50 whales over 6 different experiences. Absolutely amazing.

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After the whales passed us by we fired up the engines again and motored southeast in the calm waters. A little while later Leslie popped her head up and informed the tap had “fallen off.” Huh. We switched off positions and I headed down below. Sure enough the galley sink’s tap had “fallen off.” Turns out the restraining nut on the threaded rod below the tap had worked its way loose and needed to be retightened. I took as much of it apart as I could and tried to WD-40 the rust out as much as I could. Then I reassembled the whole thing and we will wait to the next time it falls off. Boats. What ya gonna do.

I had set up a track with waypoints for fun and we followed the charted course all the way to Sturt Bay on Texada Island. We tied up at the Texada Boat Club which is one of my favourite places. Clean, well maintained, water, 15 amp power and cheap as borscht. The only downside is they don’t take garbage for free and that’s no great trial. There is even a store in nearby Vanada, but we’ve never visited. That’s for a future trip. And I got my favorite stern-in spot by the canopy and flower pots: score!

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We opted to walk into town and up the hill to eat at the Texada Hotel. Good friendly service and decent food. And a vital part of the whole ‘small town’ experience. Afterwards we did Skip-Bo 2: the Revenge, and then hit the sack after a long day.