4:27 Windward Ho

5:30 a.m. Zzzz

Up and off to the airport for our annual checkup (or is that pat down?) and then we start the glorious hurry up and wait game that is modern air travel.

We hit YVR from ocean side, almost flying over our final destination of Nanaimo on our approach. We were at the front of the plane so were off in a jiffy. Then we wandered down the terminal exploring before deciding Bruce needed a morning weiner. After a satisfying hot dog, we headed to tarmac level just in time to hear our names paged at our gate. Seems they had finally assigned our seats on the Dash 8 and we needed to pick up our new tickets.

After a brief wait we boarded and 14 minutes at 4000 feet deposited us in Nanaimo. Lorraine, our contact from Nanaimo Yacht Charters, was there to pick us up. We soon grabbed our luggage and headed to Stones Marina, a stone’s throw from Departure Bay ferry terminal.

Lorraine handed over our goodies: a bottle of wine, keys to both the boat and their courtesy car and a pair of free hats. In turn we grabbed our log books and signed away our lives. She then walked us down to the boat, the 32 ft Bayliner At Last and bid us adieu.


This boat is way bigger (taller) than it looks online and very intimidating. After we snooped around a bit, Ian (another partner in the business) dropped by to check us out on the electrical and heads. We unpacked and then wandered around the marina and ended up at the pub for lunch.

Afterwards we zoomed off in the Toyota Echo loaner and stopped in at Save-On Foods for supplies. Tired, a bit dozy and not at all confident we fumbled our way through. I really should’ve had She Who Cannot Be Named do up the menu. Better yet, dragged her along to cook. Anyway we survived the experience and likely will have enough to eat for a few days yet. Next up was the booze store but we tried to keep it calm and down to just a few bottles for now.

We popped into the dollar store in search of a cheap kettle. The At Last didn’t seem to have one. No luck. I have to say that the dollar store’s already esoteric clientele is all the more odd here in Lotus Land. Strangest group of customers I ever did see.

Back in the car we headed downtown looking for a bank. We found one and a London Drugs, which rendered up a kettle so we can now have tea. We cruised back to the marina to unpack. Leslie opted for a nap (it was 4 o’clock after all) and I went for a walk snooping at boats.

Marinas are really crowded. Not so much in the neighbours-are-too-close way but more in the how-the-hell-do-I-get-this-boat-outta-here way. I have to say my confidence is a lot lower than it was yesterday. But Tim Melville, our instructor, shows up tomorrow at 9 so I suppose it will all get better.


After everyone rose and shone we talked boating and looked through our books and generally acted all nautical.


Then we wandered over to the Beefeater for dinner: Leslie had fresh seafood cannelloni and I went for meat skewers. I had a glass of Copper Moon Shiraz to go with and it was delish. So now it’s 9 pm BC time and we are zonked. So we made up the aft cabin and it’s nighty night.

Nighty night…


4:28 Gale Force Warnings

Time to get up!

I hopped (inasmuch as I ever hop) out of our warm bed and headed for the new kettle. I fired up the gimballed stove and made tea and coffee and then roused the holiday bed slug.

We turned on the VHF to the weather and listened to wind warnings and rain forecasts. Hard to credit given the beautiful sunny morning we are enjoying but I guess I will believe them. Anyway it looks like we are destined for the Gulf Islands unless we want to deal with a Georgia Strait passage in strong-gale winds.

Next up was a shower so I packed my kit and headed for shore. On the way I enjoyed our morning greeting committee of thousands of tiny jellyfish.


A quick cleanup and it was back aboard to tidy up while we wait for Tim. Tim and his wife Donna showed up and, after a nice chat, we got down to business. We walked through most of the bits of the boat and talked about a lot of theoretical stuff. Eventually we headed up to grab some charts (looks like Gulf Islands) and headed back to the boat. We cast off and Tim demonstrated the maneuverability of a twin screw as we weaved our way out of the marina.

We headed at idle to the public docks and after a brief tour I took over and tried docking the boat a few times. Overall, I was pretty successful although I failed at three tries on docking on the leeward side of the dock. Leslie took over and did pretty good too. Afterward we headed over to the park across the harbour at Newcastle Island to try out some mooring buoys and a bunch more docking on the finger docks there.

Eventually we decided to get the show on the road and headed south. We talked about Dodd Narrows but the current was around 9 knots. Tim decided to take us through False Narrows instead, because it had transits and the current was 50% of Dodd Narrows. UNder his watchful eye, I piloted us through the 9-13 foot narrows without running aground and then Leslie took over and took us into Pirates Cove on the south end of DeCourcy Island for our evening anchorage. She stayed at the helm while I dropped the anchor and we were snugged in for the night.

Dinner was sausage and pasta with a bottle of red. Leslie and I unshipped the dingy and headed ashore for a walk around the marine park and Tim washed dishes. The windward side of the island has three-foot waves and whitecaps, but our anchorage is almost completely still .

Back at the boat a bit of chat and a bit of reading and that was that.

The Internet is really flaky so pictures will have wait.



View Boating 2013 April 28 in a larger map

4:29 Missed it by that much

Special contribution from guest blogger: Happy XXXXXday, Bruce!


Very busy day. Too busy to blog. Notes for future:

Wind shifted to NW mid night
So we had anchored in Pirates Cove, which is totally protected from the SW winds that were blowing when we went to bed. So of course the wind shifted to the north. Seems we didn’t take the weather reports into account. So all of us were up several times during the night to check the anchor in fear that we were slowly dragging onto the concrete dock astern of us. We found out later Tim was just as concerned as we beginners were. Eventually it was morning, the anchor hadn’t budged and we awoke officially to start the day in the choppy little bay.

Anchor issues
After a quiet breakfast we went to raise anchor. Leslie was at the helm and I ran the windlass. Unfortunately it was almost impossible to keep the boat head into the anchor and then the chain started to pile up in the locker, preventing me from raising it the last 8 ft or so. Eventually we got everything shifted around and finally could head out the narrow entrance to the cove, directly into the wind.

Motor in 3 ft seas to Degnen
Tim lives on Gabriola island in Degnen Bay; he has a marina there (all permanent moorage). We decided to visit, so after we weighed anchor in the windy cove, which was a bit of an exercise, we headed north into the wind. The waves were crashing over the bow as Leslie wound her way upwind. Lots of fun!



A Little Talk
As we headed back towards Gabriola Island, we discussed some of the issues we’d been having and the importance of being aware of weather, tides, etc. Apparently Tim had been nervous about whether our anchor would hold in such strong winds and the usual solution (letting more rode out) wasn’t available to us since we were already too close to the concrete dinghy dock. If it wouldn’t have been equally problematic, we probably should have hauled the anchor out in the dark and moved the boat.

Motor to Telegraph
After putzing around the Gabriola Passage and Degnen Bay we headed back out and set a course south for Telegraph Harbour between Thetis and Kuper islands. It was pretty quiet there but between the stage fright and a bit of a head wind I royally screwed up the docking. I blame it on the fact the helpful marina owners came down to help and ruined my concentration, but frankly it was probably just a bad job of docking.





Lunch ensued. We took a brief walk around, used the washrooms and boarded again to practice some more. After a much more successful docking practice session (Leslie is kickass at this stuff) we exited the Harbour and headed across the strait towards Ladysmith. Tim had recommended a restaurant there since we had decided to eat out that night. About halfway across we called ahead and found out the restaurant is closed on Mondays, so we decided to abandon that course. We changed course to 225 degrees into Chemainus.

On the way there it started to rain. One of the boat deficiencies we had already noted when Leslie was covering the windshields with spray earlier in the day, was that the windshield wipers weren’t worth shit. Thus we were left to enter a strange harbour in rain and poor visibility. To make it worse one of the ferries was just astern of us, and while I had the right of way we decided it was prudent to bear away and circle in behind him. Since the government dock is right beside the ferry dock, the ferry led us right in. That was the good part of the ferry.

We docked right behind a huge catamaran on the outside float with the hope we could shelter in his lee. Didn’t help. We were exposed all night to the NW wind and every time the ferry came in his wash would toss the boat around a bit to keep us alert.

So we had some wine. It pretty much solves everything.

We invited Tim to join us for dinner and headed into town. The skipper of the cat kindly lent us the shower key and told us the gate code so we were good to go until tomorrow when the Harbour Master was due in. We wandered up into town but it was pretty dead. The first restaurant we saw open was Odika, so it won by default. Perfect choice! The food was delicious. My salmon Wellington, Leslie’s soup and mussels, and Tim’s African-style lamb were all superb and accompanied by a great bottle of BC red. We finished off with some terrific desserts and wandered back to the boat stuffed and sated.


Sleep was good, but our breastlines were too taut and we didn’t have the right length of ropes for spring lines. This means that the boat is basically banging and rubbing on the fenders all night as the wind drives the waves against our stern…where L’s and my cabin is … loudly banging … oh, and did I mention it was freezing cold?

Let’s see, three nights on board, freezing cold each evening, two with waves smacking loudly on the hull and the boat bouncing like a berserk roller coaster. Yah, we’ve been sleeping well, why do you ask?


View Boating 2013 April 29 in a larger map

4:30 Strike 2

Another rough night. The winds shifted again and our breast lines were too tight. Sigh. I am sure we will get it right eventually. See the previous entry.

We woke up and had some breakfast and availed ourselves of the showers in Chemainus Harbour. Tim graciously paid the moorage and we were ready to get on with our day.

We did some chart work and our checks on the boat. While we were working a 54-ft Selene came in looking for space. Tim discussed it with them on the VHF, but before we could make space for him the Harbour Master showed up and moved the utility boat that had been ahead of the big cat, and the Selene gracefully glided into dock. It had bow and stern thrusters, and the captain had a remote joystick he could bring out on the rail to guide it in sideways.


Leslie and I headed up the hill half a block and picked up a few groceries, and then it was back on board and time to cast off into that shitty wind. Lucky for me it was Leslie’s turn. Under Tim’s patient guidance she eased us up against the commercial docks spun us 180 degrees and headed out of the Harbour.

We had spent the morning charting courses, so our goal was to pilot by the math. Leslie exited the harbor using the big ship’s transits and we took fixes along the way trying to hit our waypoints without the chart plotter. This entails maintaining a steady course and holding our speeds to the ones we had prescribed. I can’t say we did all that well, but our final position wasn’t that far off from our predicted one. Plotting is hard. Following a plot is harder.

The weather was looking good so we decided it was time for some MOB (man overboard) drills. Much to L’s chagrin Tim opted to throw a fender overboard instead of me.



We played around for an hour or so and had the boat up to 12-13 knots for a while, weaving and ducking and generally watching that poor fender drown. In the end we arrived at the conclusion that my accuracy was better, Leslie’s math was better and we had best hope no one falls overboard when we don’t notice. All good fun and our boat-handling confidence is looking better.

We transited Sansun Narrows at close to slack tide and motored towards the Saanich Penninsula. Today we put on a lot of miles. I think we did 23 or 24 in total. We ducked our heads into Genoa Bay, cruised by Cowichan Bay and then set our course for Portland Island, our final destination.


As we headed across to Portland Island we crossed by Swartz Bay and all the ferry traffic in and out of Sidney.

Crossing behind Tortoise Rocks we passed into Princess Bay, which anchorage is protected from the NW. We were going to get a good night’s sleep or else! The only downside was as the ferry passed from east to west from Tsawwassen, its wake would hit us several minutes later and rock the boat for a few minutes. Leslie remarked that it took Rockeroo to a whole new level.

It was a quiet anchorage that we shared with two sailboats. We had the shallow draft so we were tucked in pretty close to shore. After a bunch of math we got the anchor dug in solidly. Supper was BBQ chicken thighs with tomato salad: yum.



We spent the evening catching up on some paper work and then it was off to bed and hopefully a calm night. Just before we hit the hay Tim dragged our stern docking line through the water and showed us the phosphorescence in the water. Beautiful!





View Boating 2013 April 30 in a larger map

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.



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.



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.



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.



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.


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.

View Boating 2013 May 1 in a larger map

5:2 Know it all?

Morning: check
Coffee: check
Shower: wait for them office to open to get loonies; check

We spent the morning with some discussions of competency. Tim gave us some brief evaluations on where he thought we stood, which L and I were generally in agreement with. She needs more practice and self-confidence in docking and boat handling. I need practice. Overall we had demonstrated the skill to pass all three courses but we need to work on general competency and polish. In other words, practice, practice practice.

We spent some more time with the chart books and then cast off for a morning of docking and close maneuvers. Tim demonstrated some fancy stuff with the bow pretty much hanging over the docks, and Leslie once again showed her finesse while I muscled the boat into imaginary hard spots. Lots of fun, lots of good practice. It is a great time of year to do a course like this.



Eventually we decided to take off and make our way to Gabriola Island. Likely Silva Bay but we might bail and try Degnen Bay instead if the waves are too rough or the currents are wrong for Garbiola Passage.

The wind was our now familiar 15-20 knots from the northwest (of course the direction we were headed) and it made for some high seas. Tim took our chart plotter away again and we headed up Trincomali channel for Wallace Island. We navigated around the rocks on the SW side of the island and popped our heads into Conover Cove, a beautiful protected but shallow little anchorage. There was another, albeit newer, Bayliner 3288 at the tiny dock there.

Next we headed up island and, avoiding swamping the crazy camouflaged crab fisherman, we turned into Princess Cove–a deeper anchorage with lots of stern tie-in points. We had previously mentioned to Tim our desire to see an otter, so he had graciously ordered one up from the otter supply depot. Tim pointed the otter out romping up the rocks that protected the cove from open water. Just as cute as I had always imagined.

We exited the cove and navigated around all the rocks and reefs off Secretary Island and past Clam Bay, and re entered Trincomali Channel and rough water just off the Rose Islets. I foolishly asked Tim what the boat would be like beam to the wind, and he foolishly replied try it. So I did. And we discovered we weren’t so battened down as we thought as charts, cameras, binoculars and sundry went flying across the saloon. I quickly turned the bow back into the wind and we took stock. Two coffee mugs down, we continued to crab our way up channel.

We moved up to the fly bridge for fun and crossed the channel towards Valdes Island. The motion was actually a little gentler up there and with the bimini it was quite warm and cozy. There were lots of deadheads in the water so we had to keep a fairly sharp watch.


We’d made good time and the currents were good for Gabriola Passage so we made for Silva Bay. Silva Bay is on the outside of the Gulf Islands but fairly well protected, so it is the usual stopping spot for boaters out of Vancouver who want to get out of town as soon as possible then hole up waiting for the currents to be favourable.

Just as we were in the narrowest part of the Passage Tim spotted a whole family of otters on the bank; luckily the currents were good and I could take my eyes off the water long enough to catch a glimpse. No pictures though 🙁

We followed the charts in and around the many rocks and islands and motored into Silva Bay. I had a wind on my stern and a fairly tight slip to maneuver into. There were two men on the dock, but I decided to ignore them as best I could and opted to try and back into the leeward side of a finger to hopefully miss the boats docked off the starboard bow as we entered the marina. I’m going to call it a perfect park. I’m sure I could have done it better, but with tightish quarters, two overly helpful men on the dock and a wind, I think I put the stern and Leslie right on the dock and swung my bow in almost right on target.

We chatted with the men and they mentioned we would have company tonight as a sailboat was due into the slip next to ours later in the evening.

We finished tying up, and Tim and I took a meander around the docks checking out boats. One of the other reasons the men had been on the dock was there was a sailboat with a line wrapped around its propellor. The young man had borrowed a wetsuit and knife and was diving in the chilly water trying to free it. We watched for 15 minutes and he was still trying when we left. The next morning he had moved so I suppose he finally got it off.



Donna arrived from their house 2 km down the road, and she and Tim exited stage left. This left Leslie and I alone at last on the At Last. We quaffed some beer/cider, munched on Doritos and Facebooked for a while. Eventually we bestirred ourselves and took a lovely walk about the immediate environs. On the way back we picked up some BC wine and I talked Leslie into a proper dinner at the restaurant. I had the rib special and she had the bacon-wrapped scallops, and then we were sated, exhausted and ready for bed.




We were tucking ourselves in when the long-awaited sailboat came in, just as the light was fading. They brought her in smartly and needed no help. Seems, though, they had been coming from Nanaimo on the outside of Gabriola and suffered an uncontrolled gybe. This snapped their main sheet and the skipper had been forced to jury rig something. Meanwhile somehow their radio had independently decided to send a distress signal, so he had to cancel that; and then his stove came off its gimbals, so he had even more things to deal with. He seemed calm enough–he mentioned he’s been sailing for 50 years–but his girlfriend was frazzled.

We lent them some water for his kettle and everyone settled in for the night.


View Boating 2013 May 2 in a larger map

5:3 Windy Way

Morning and up we got. I grabbed a shower and settled up at the marina office: $50 this time, pretty steep. We started on our morning checks and cleaned the salt off the windshields so we could see. I was scrubbing down the glass when our neighbour mentioned he had called the ambulance! Seems his girlfriend had been feeling dizzy and bad and the Nursing Hotline advised him to call it in. The emergency responders ended up on the wrong dock but eventually made their way over. Meanwhile Tim and Donna showed up at 9 as planned and suddenly there were 20 people standing on the finger watching a small sailboat the probably couldn’t hold more than 5 or 6. Eventually it all sorted itself out and the girlfriend was wheeled away. Tim kindly helped the fellow snug his sails downs before be headed after the ambulance.


We said goodbye to Donna and started to talk about how we would get out without any issues. I decided to drive straight out between the two boats in front of me and then pivot my bow into the wind and then leave with gusto to avoid being blown back into the leeward docks. We discussed a few other options and considerations and then, with coaching from Tim, I actually pulled it off as planned. I must finally be getting this stuff.

Since the tide was up we opted to exit south through the shallow channel. The only real consideration was this was also the seaplane landing strip. But all went well and we made it out. I turned the helm over to Leslie and she guided us into Gabriola Passage.

Since we were returning to Nanaimo today we had to negotiate both Gabriola Passage and Dodd Narrows. Leslie and I had done the math and calculated if we left at 10 am we could hit Gabriola Passage an hour after slack which was easy in a power boat, and at 9 knots, make it to Dodd Narrrows at almost exactly slack.

Something must of broken loose in the night because Leslie had to negotiate Gabriola Passage with 3 other boats and a log boom. Easy-peasy. We rounded the corner of Valdes island and headed SW to Ruxton Passage. The wind was following so it wasn’t too bad and from Ruxton to Dodd Narrows it was pretty protected.



After Leslie brought us through Dodd Narrows though, we were open to the wind coming in off the Strait. It got pretty bouncy. All the way up Northumberland Channel we rode the waves. After securing the cabin more thoroughly we tried some MOB drills and maneuvering with a strong wind. Round and round, pound, pound, pound. Eventually we started angling west towards the entrance to Nanaimo harbor but tried to cheat it enough so that we weren’t too much beam into the wind.


Back to Nanaimo, we could see a 3 ferries in the water: one small one for Gabriola Island, a big one for Departure bay on the far side of Nanaimo and a third coming in behind us to Duke Point. We managed to miss them all.

We headed to back Newcastle Island again to practice on mooring bouys and anchors in a crowded(-ish) harbour. We each anchored up surrounded on 3 sides by other boats and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. The only real issue we had was our chain locker doesn’t seem to pass the anchor chain into a nice pile and it kept jamming the windlass. So whenever we were raising the anchor this forced someone down into the V-berth to settle the pile of chain. Fine if there are 3 of us but Leslie and I were trying to do this with just 2.


Next up we tried a mooring bouy. Leslie picked it up from the stern and we tried walking it forward which was impossible in the wind. About 30 minutes of traditional male stubbornness later Tim and I got the bow docking line through the ring; I think Leslie had sensibly written it off much earlier as a learning experience.

It was lunch time and Leslie had not been checked out on the dinghy so we decided to leave the boat on the bouy and putt over to the Dinghy Dock Pub for lunch. Leslie got the scoop on the 4 stroke, 9hp outboard including turtle and rabbit, choke, safety cutoff lanyard and basic steering instructions. It was one of those things: I never quite realized that someone could not know how to handle an outboard or tiller… it just seems second nature to me.

Anyway Leslie took us across the bay to the pub’s docks and I jumped out. The waitress told us here was a lower, protected dinghy dock round back so Leslie and Tim cast off and took her around while took pictures. We had a nice lunch on the deck in the sun and unlike the kayakers across the pub, we opted for ice water. They were sucking back beer and I wondered if they would even be able to get in their kayaks later. A self correcting problem I guess. Too drunk to get in: too drunk to be on the water…




We hopped back into the dinghy and Leslie brought us smoothly back to the At Last. I almost soaked myself trying to hop up on the swim grid before tying us to the boat, but fortunately all I suffered was a tear in my pants. We hauled out the dinghy, cast off the buoy and headed back to Nanaimo and Stones Marina.


I finished the trip with a reasonably competent docking in the fuel dock where a helpful young man with a cigarette hanging from his lips (on a fuel dock?) helped with the lines. Unfortunately it was now 4:10 and the fuel dock had closed at 4:00. I called Lorraine and she said to bring her in to the slip. Tim intimated that I could try but he that was leery about doing it himself. I sensibly opted to watch Tim maneuver it in stern first amongst the crowded fingers with the wind blowing the bloody bow around like a kite. Beautifully done. Ian was at the slip to help with the lines, and we were home.

Tim sat down to finish off the paperwork and we went through where we were and what he felt was our current level of competence. In the end his assessment was pretty much on par with our own self-assessment. We both passed our coursework, both Ashore and Practical components for all three courses: Competent Crew Power, Day Skipper Power and Coastal Navigation. His recommendation was that I could be turned loose on the charter industry, but I need a lot of practice and it would be a good thing if I didn’t wait a year to get it. Leslie also passed on paper, but needs to work on taking charge and more practice on basic boat handling.

After that he packed up and and we walked him down the dock and said our goodbyes. I would highly recommend Tim to anyone, and he does have his own 42 ft sailboat that he is setting up as a boat and breakfast.

Leslie and I grabbed the keys to the Ocean Pearl, the 38ft Bayliner, and looked it over. That’s the boat next up on my agenda. Walking back I wondered out loud if Paul Kantor was in port. He was our ashore instructor in Edmonton for the ISPA Sailing courses that L, C and I had been taking. He was supposed to be doing on-water stuff this week with Nanaimo Yacht Charters. Next thing you know, there he was sitting in the cockpit of a powder-blue 40ft Hanse. We chatted a bit and wandered back to our boat.

I grabbed a shower ashore and came back to BBQ some chicken and stirfry some peas and mushrooms. Leslie contributed the pasta and we had a lovely little repast. A quiet evening of winding down and we snugged in for our last night aboard.


View Boating 2013 May 3 in a larger map

5:4 Away but not Aweigh


Good morning.

I awoke to a dead iPhone. It had been plugged in all night but was dead as a doornail. I checked the electrical panel –all good– and switched it to a forward receptacle and let it charge a bit, but still no go. Sigh. After a bit of surfin’ and readin’ on my iPad I felt the Google-fu burbling up and discovered the hard reset (hold home button and power button for at least 10–20 seconds): voila!

Meanwhile I’d coffee’d up waiting for the the resident Doctor Slug to awaken and rise from the bowels of her berth and thought I’d start (backwards) filling in this week’s blog posts.

We hit the sack last night after a bottle of wine and were snug in our beds and just asleep when we heard a tremendous metal-on-metal crash and the boat jarred suddenly. I jumped up and headed for the saloon. Unfortunately for me Leslie had left the doorway to the saloon open but had closed the sliding roof.


Well, my head impacted the roof at speed; better yet my head impacted the wooden handle jutting out, just to focus the force a bit more effectively. Manfully shaking it off I ducked and continued up to see a small boat with a light and two men off the port bow. I turned to the door, but for some inexplicable reason we had chosen this night of all nights to lock it. With a key. Which was somewhere.

Eventually I found the key, made it on deck and discovered the boat was the harbour patrol. The wind had caught their aluminum boat and smacked it into our anchor. So no harm done, except to my sleep. And my heart. And my head.

Anyway eventually we got back to sleep.

So now all you readers who have been keeping up will have to go back to day one and catch up. That is if I can get it done today on the flight back. Then again, it might take all week…

Leslie and I took a walk around and visited some boats and popped into a marine supply place (Skipper’s Marine Center) to ogle inflatable life jackets. Man, were the staff people ever bored. We entered a contest, got life jacket demos, were given the soft sell on a 17′ Glastron and were given a free floating keychain.


Back at the boat we loaded up a cart with our gear and hauled it off the dock. L’s parents were there and we loaded up the van, dropped the keys tearfully off to Lorraine and waved goodbye.

Our first stop was Nanaimo Harbour Chandler. Tim had said he had an account there and we could buy anything we wanted–just kidding. We did want to look at some charts. It’s an awesome place–sort of a super hardware store for boats. We picked up a 2013 Waggoner Cruising Guide for the West Coast and Chart 3313 which is 1:40 000 charts for most of the Gulf Islands. We are total boat geeks now.

We stopped for lunch at White Spot and then dropped Stephen off downtown to shop. After a little fussing we decided to drive to Qualicum Beach for fun. Once there we sat on a bench on the shore chatting and watching the gorgeous calm Straits of Georgia. Huh, I guess someone forgot to pay the wind bill, because we didn’t see any days like this while we were on the water.



A couple of picnic tables down, someone had left a neatly bundled bag of garbage lying in the table. Eventually a raven landed and gave it the once over and decided it was fair game. He grabbed it in his beak (it was bigger than he was) and lifted it about a foot in the air. It landed on the grass and he proceeded to drag it around a while before pinning it with one foot and pecking away. Eventually more ravens arrived but the first guy retained ownership. They’d agreed to rip it open and once accomplished, he grabbed what looked like a chicken wing and took off. He didn’t look back. When I lost sight of him down the beach he was still going. I guess he didn’t want to share. Makes him way smarter than a seagull. 1, 2, 3, 4 ravens scattered the remains of the garbage and eventually all left.

We walked down the beach but by the time we had got back someone had cleaned up the mess.

Back in the van and back to Nanaimo. We stopped at the ‘Hortons’ as L’s mom has taken to calling it–first sign of their real West Coast integration I guess–and had a pleasant chat for an hour or so.

Back in the van once more we picked up Stephen (with a few wrong turns–they are still learning the city) and were off to the airport. We are about an hour and a half early but that’s fine because it gives us some mental down time.


Our flight is to Vancouver in a Dash 8 and then on to YEG. Crossing the Strait was fun, looking at all the islands we had visited and navigated around from the air. Fourteen minutes later we were on the ground and had an hour to wait for our connecting flight. So far I have 3 days caught up. I might get this done before we land in Edmonton if my phone battery holds out.

But Ooh the movies look good on the Edmonton bound plane. I think the rest of the updates will have to wait! Now… Django Unchained or The Dark Knight Rises?

Thus ends our week long adventure on the West Coast. We are sure to be back this summer, so stay tuned.