Morning, as always, happened. It is a conspiracy against non-morning people that 7am flights are cheaper than 10am flights.
Packed and off, we bid adieu to,the sullen cats and trucked off to YEG International. We checked in exactly a hour before our flight, but for some reason that still made the ticket people nervous so we engaged in a bit of queue jumping.
The flight was on of the Embraers (sp?) so we sat 2×2. Soon enough Vancouver showed up and I indulged in some morning wiener. Next up… a Dash 8 to Nanaimo.
13 minutes later Lorraine picked us up at the airport and whisked us into town and it was time to do some paperwork. After everything was all official we headed down to the Sante, a Dufour 385 that was home for the next few nights.
Tonight we had her to ourselves but Tim would be joining us in the morning. A little unpacking, a little relaxing and a little tour around the docks and it was lunch time.
We had lunch at the pub.. The food was so so but the beer was fine. After lunch it was off in the courtesy putt putt to stock up on victuals and grog. An hour later we had food for a few days and enough booze to party and it was back to the boat. The handy carts were handy for loading the groceries into the marina and down tot he boat. The tide had come in a little so the ramp wasn’t too steep.
We filled all the nooks and crannies in the salon with food and such. There is a remarkable amount of room in a boat like this.
Someone declared it was down time for the girls so I headed for the cockpit to relax. We are docked just across from the At Last. She’s getting a new coat of varnish on her woodwork and is one of the few NYC boats still in. It’s a beautiful sunny day and everyone is out on the water enjoying it.
After a significant pause in activity we headed back to the Beefeater for dinner. Scallops, Bernaise, prawns and a really passable Chilean Viognier for only $25. Mmmmmmm. Dinner on the patio with a view of the harbour. At some point in the evening a conversation about shaving you hairy bottom came up. This was closely followed by a conversation regarding the perils of a stubbly ass. What the hell, we were on holidays: there was no requirement for intellectuality…
Back at the boat I grabbed a quick shower, learned to light the stove and it was soon time to wind down.
Up. Shower. Toast.
I was up too early. Stupid morning. I got the stove running and turned the kettle over to C to babysit. The gas system on the Dufour has a lot of switches and valves twixt the bottle and the stove and sailboats seem to be a lot fussier about keeping good procedure in mind. Shower time!
After I got back to the boat everyone was up so I mocked C until she made me toast. Mmmm toast. She didn’t get the first one right, even though Leslie’s had been perfect, so I made her try again… Mmmmmmm raisin toast. After breakfast we cleaned up and waited for Tim.
When Tim arrived we said our hellos and the quickly started in on the Sante; front to back: we checked every through-hull, bilge and seacock. And no one giggled. Out loud. Tim’s a great teacher and 99% of his explanations made more sense than the books ever did. After we were through with belowdecks, it was on to the sailing bits. Halyards, sheets, cleats and winches, the Sante had ’em all. I have to say in retrospect I really appreciate his thoroughness. The briefings for the two boats I have been on with Tim help contribute to a basic understanding of the principles behind boating and boat design: something I have never got from the cursory explanations given by the charter companies themselves. Even thought the first thing you want to do after getting the boat is cast off and cruise, I almost think it would be a good thing to demand a long slow tour from the charter companies; after all we would all benefit.
After all that we paused for lunch (sandwich meat and baguette).
Next up we checked out the chart room and grabbed a bunch of charts, some binocs and the tides and tables. I grabbed the Gulf Islands as well as Princess Louisa Inlet. Back on board, we fired up the Volvo and finally cast off. Away from the docks we turned to port and headed out to Departure Bay and around the north side of Newcastle Island. Pointed into the wind, C and L hoisted the main sail and unfurled the jib. We were sailing.
Right off the bat we headed out into the Strait and some pretty stiff wind. Between the rocks, buoys and higher winds, it was pretty damn intense. We made our first few tacks and gybed and eventually settled into a rhythm. I have to admit it was pretty damn scary. For the first hour I was really wondering if I wanted to sail at all. Eventually though it all calmed down, mostly the wind, and I started to almost, kinda get comfortable with it.
Leslie took over the helm pretty early and I managed to make sense of the sheets and basic actions involved: there are a lot of details to hold on to… Tim showed us the upwind and downwind man overboards (just in case we lost him prematurely) and we basically putted around getting to know the boat.
Eventually we started tacking back north towards Departure Bay. Tim has an early-morning appointment so we were going back to the marina for the night. The winds died as we entered the bay and we eventually had to start the engine again. Tim demonstrated lowering the main and we headed in with me at the helm. Fenders out, docking lines on and it was time to back into the slip. I got us 80% of the way there, but Tim took us in the last few feet. All tied up and the shore power connected and then Tim bid us adieu for the night. He will be back tomorrow am after his appointment.
I have to say it was a pretty rough introduction to sailing for C; given the conditions nothing seemed easy or intuitive and until we got a reef in (another ‘advanced’ concept right off the bat) the sailing was pretty physical. Given all her pre-trip jitters about the concept of sailing on the big seas, I was almost worried she would be getting off the ride before we had a chance to get a reasonable day in. But my fears were unfounded: what a trouper!
It was Miller Time so I sucked back a couple of cold ones and then dinner beckoned. We decided to give the staff at the Beefeater one more try. A nice seat on the patio and some good food, but the service is pretty odd there. Back in April we had terrific food and service, but it’s starting to look like that was a special occasion.
Dinner conversation consisted of discussion of just how bad people’s VHF protocols were. The conclusion? Bad! We heard just about every error and misuse of the system in the book. It was borderline comical. Seriously.
A nice walk back to the boat and it was reading, writing and quiet time before the sandman finally hunted us down and zonked us on the heads.
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No Internet. No time. Catch up later…
Up and at em. Tim wasn’t due for a bit and we had discovered that while the boat’s sound system had an aux in, unlike the At Last there was no supplied 1/8″ cable. So we hopped in the car (we still had the keys) and made a quick trip to London Drugs for a cable. We’d already blown through a bunch of waters so we picked up another flat just to be safe. While the water on board is potable, conservation is the name of the game when on a boat. That way you can stay out longer and avoid marina charges. We never did have a problem with it though and we weren’t particularly water-concious. Then again we weren’t away from a port more than a night.
When we got back we did the engine checks and tidied up in preparation for casting off. As a result we were up and off pretty soon after Tim arrived. C took out of the slip and down the channel, motoring south to public dock so we could get in some learning and practice. We got one good docking in on the big wharf before we were booted off by the dock boys. Then we switched tot he wast pump-out dock as it was usually empty. It’s a smaller dock—barely big enough for our 38′ but that just meant we had to be more precise. Everyone got a chance to practice and there were very very aborts. All in all a very confidence building experience—for me at least.
One of the bonuses of moving to the pump out dock was our spectator: a cute little otter. He spend most of his time cavorting in and around a floating raft while we came and went. Since everyone got a chance to work the ones, everyone got at least a few moments to watch him roll around and hop back and forth. C decided that Pedro needed a friend but alas her wiles were not up to the job—or at least not so far. Who knows what will show up on her doorstep back in Greisbach: he has the address now.
Eventually we decided to move on and headed across the harbour to Mark Bay to try our hand at a mooring buoy. As we had discovered in the At Last, grabbing a mooring buoy from the bow is almost impossible. The chains are heavy and covered with algae and weeds below the surface. With Tim and Leslie hauling on the boat hook and C’s gorilla arms reaching for the ring, we still weren’t able to haul up the chin close enough to get a line through it. Eventually we gave up and pulled stern to the buoy, looped the rope from the swim grid and backed the boat down while walking the line forward. A much better system which we adopted for the rest of the trip. We had a quick lunch and then cast off again to head out to find some wind.
We set sail coming out of Nanaimo harbour and it was a much calmer day. With C at the wheel we sailed out from behind Protection Island and headed out to the Strait. We (with C at the helm) tacked back and forth in a steadily decreasing wind until we were eventually becalmed just before Entrance Island. So we furled the jib, lowered the mainsail and fired up the engine. Leslie took the helm and motored us along the outside of Gabriola Island to Silva Bay. I took over as we entered the maze of tiny islands that protects Silva Bay from the weather of the Georgia Strait. After a brief discussion we decided that free moorage at Tim’s docks in Degnen made more sense that paying at Silva so we passed on through and took the shallow passage between Gabriola and Sear Island out to Gabriola Passage.
The current was good, so we passed quickly though the passage and turned to starboard into Degnen Bay. Tim was pretty sure he had an empty slip and it turned out to be true: right beside a monster Bavaria that had its owner aboard. I circled around to get a good look and to let the crew get out the fenders and then proceeded to back a 10 foot wide boat into a 14 foot wide hole, with the neighbours watching to ensure I didn’t scrape their very, very expensive boat up. But I made it with a lot of coaching from Tim and we tied up happy as a clam. We plugged into shore power and started to think about dinner. Tim’s house overlooks the marina so he was going to sleep ashore, but Carmen had some delicious BBQ planned.
Dinner and wine on deck and then Tim bid us bon soir. We sat up and watched the beautiful stars and relaxed after an enjoyable day: quite different from the previous day by a long, long way.
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Up and at em, Tim showed up on time and we quickly cast off and drove out of the marina. Once into Plyades Channel we motored on and it was a pretty straight shot to Pirates Cove, our immediate destination.
Through the tiny entrance to Pirates Cove and we were gratified to see that it had pretty much emptied out. It was anchor practice time and we all took turns at the helm as well as raising and lowering. We got a good hold each and every time we tried. I am almost starting to hope we fail one of these time just so we can see what its like. I think it was C who managed to break the hold one time, but that was with the engine revved up to over 1500 rpm in reverse. Anyway, it was good practice and another bunch of firsts for C.
Pirates Cove has some private docks for the inhabitants of DeCourcy Island, so we made free with their outside float for docking practice. After our first go round or two we were joined by someone else doing some docking practice. But this time it was a seaplane. We must have looked a bit comical as we both circled around an around taking turns docking. Eventually he gave up and flew away. We switched to docking in reverse. I stayed on the dock on one of the revolutions and grabbed some pics and video.
After we tired of this—or maybe we were just getting dizzy— we headed back out and through Ruxton Passage. We hoisted the sails and were off. Just as we got into Stuart Channel we went back to doing MOB (man overboard) practice, both close hauled and running downwind. It’s a lot of small things that when done smoothly and in the correct order bring you back near your MOB and relatively stationary without having to drop sails. But man it sure seems impossible at first. Anyway, after a while we weren’t really processing it all yet so e straightened out and headed southwardly.
We had a great sail and skipped over into Trincomali Channel heading to Clam Bay. As soon as we hit Trincomali the tacks started to come a bit closer so we started to build some muscle memory from the repetitive work. Once in the bay we picked out a likely spot near the entrance to the Cut over to Telegraph Harbour and proceeded to anchor. This entails calculating the current depth, consulting the tide book to see what our maximum tide will be during our stay, factoring in the height of the anchor above the waterline and the depth of the sounder below the waterline and then determining the length of the rode based on all those number. Given that C and I use our fingers and toes regularly as a part of our problem solving methodology, its a surprisingly easy process. Everything went smoothly once again.
First up was some dingy instruction and practice for C. We lowered the motor off the handy davit and clamped it to the transom of our little inflatable tender. There is a dredged channel called the Cut that runs through the flats between Thetis and Kuper Islands to Telegraph Harbour. C fired up the outboard and took us through to the marina on the other side. After docking we wandered up to the store in search of a few supplies but all they really had was snacks and souvenirs. We hung out anyway, enjoyed the scenery and explored a bit. C tried to embarrass me by challenging me to a game of horseshoes but I fooled her by chickening out. So she tossed a few with Leslie while I looked cool under a big shady tree.
Eventually we piled back in the dinghy and Leslie took us home. There were lots of kayakers and boaters moving back and forth and even a local or two brave enough to take sailboats through. A lot of it was really shallow and I bet other than the dredged channel, most of it dries at low tide. After we got back to the boat I took the tender out solo to grab some shots of the boat at anchor and to just zoom around a bit. While I was out a native fellow in a canoe paddled by and asks if anyone aboard was interested in some carvings.
Dinner was delicious BBQ pork chops and we settled in to have a great evening watching the sun go down.
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We woke up at Clam Bay, so I guess that means our anchor held; which is a miracle considering the looks of the rode when we pulled it up. The day before we had noticed the rope rode would catch on a piece of the capstan, making it hard to pull up the line. we also noticed it had caused some fraying in the rope part of the rode, about a foot or so below where it was joined to the chain. Well when we pulled it up this morning one of the three main strands of the rope was just about chewed through. No more anchoring on that rode, that was for sure.
Tim had been threatening us with breakfast crepes and sincere had brought some flour down from the house we took him up on it. It was a mixed bag of crepes with some people opting for jam,others sticking with syrup or just sugar. I think there may even have been some pepper sprinkled here and there. But they were pretty damn good thats for sure.
After we weight anchor, Leslie sailed us around the bottom of Thetis towards Chemainus as we need to buy some groceries.It was two pretty straight tacks there so all in all some easy sailing. we radioed ahead to see if there was berth space. Turns out Harmen was away but the guy on the radio figured we could tie up on the outside long enough to get some supplies. North 49 grocers is just up the hill from the public docks. We tied up in virtually the same spot as last time we were here and hopped ashore to go find some supplies.
While we were away, Tim stayed behind to move the boat incase the real owners of our spot arrived. While he waited he dragged the stern anchor rode out and switched it with the bow anchor rode. The stern line looked like it had never been used so we would be good to go again. When we got back we decided to whip up a quick lunch before we cast of again. A bout mid way into my 2nd bite, Harmen told us the rightful owners had arrived and it was time for us to go. So we went.
Sails up as soon as we cleared the harbour we headed south. We were thinking Maple Bay or Cowichan Bay. A couple of really long tacks and some more screwing around doing some 360s and we were at the head of Sansum Narrows. Now I would have figured based on my limited sailing knowledge and the charts that no one would sail through the nannies. After all they were, ummm, narrow. Well I would have been wrong. we sailed right in and the winds had us heeled over like we were sailing on our side. Now earlier we had thrown in the second reef to see what it would do to our performance and now I was glad. We tacked back and forth pretty rapidly in some severe (at least to me) gusts, coming as close to the shore as I had the guts for and then coming about. After about what seemed like 50 harrowing tacks (but the chart plotter says was only 4) we emerged into Maple Bay pointed almost straight at Birds Eye Cove where the marina was. It was pretty good close haul and I thought I would make the cove without further tacks but finally had to give up on that idea or go into irons. One more tack and we were into the cove and looking for our reserved slip.
I managed to back her in fairly well although I missed the dock by a few feet and had to use the mooring line to power our way parallel to the dock. After that we tied up and paid up and we were free to start drinking. We were also a bit short of beer so I headed up to the showers and on the way back pulled a 6-pack from off sales at the pub. A really really friendly bartender shared a sample with me since I could decide on which unfamiliar ale to try. Great service!
Back at the boat C was BBQing a pork loin complete with homemade sauce. Man are we eating good this trip. We washed it down with some wine, had a few more glasses and then called it a night & bed
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Morning. I took a row around the marina in the dingy for fun. Others indulged in showers. Then we finished up breakfast and cast off
Once out in Maple Bay it was calm so C practiced her MOB under power. Like us the biggest issue was doing the math on the fly. But we got it done and then raised the sail so we could head north. We sailed close haul to the Trincomali Channel and had lunch on the go.
After eating, while L and C were still below, Tim talked me into doing some solo figure 8s. So all by my self I brought the boat into each point of sail swung through a tack and a gybe and got back on something resembling our original course. After a few tries it actually seemed kind of easy and natural. I was starting to get this sailing thing. I could even look up at the sails and trim them so so just by doing what seemed to be right. When L came up we talked her into try the figure 8s and she managed a pretty good job too.
After that it was a broad reach Northwest back to the west side of Ruxton. We pulled into Herring Bay and set the anchor. Leslie and I decided to take the dingy across to Pirates Cove Marine park on De Courcy, so we hopped in and roared off. About 3 minutes the later the outboard coughed and died. Sigh, so much for roaring. I unshipped the oars and rowed to a nearby islet so we could putz around there. The sandstone in the Gulf Islands is generally eroded by wind and water and makes awesome shapes and weird formations. I picked up a few shells for C since she was stuck on the boat and we wandered carefully around the shore. Eventually we piled back into the dingy and I rowed back to the boat.
Supper was French toast, with a sprinkle of France. C always adds pepper to her French toast batter and I had brought our shaker of white pepper from France for this express purpose. Supper over we cleaned up a bit and watched the sun go down on a great day.
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Well it was a stormy night. Herring Bay doesnt offer much protection from the north or west and i guess thats where the wind decided to come from. Our anchor held, although I suspect it dragged a bit; Tim said not but I remain suspicious. Anyway it gave C a taste of what we went through in April. We raised anchor, noting that the anchor capstan still wanted to chew up the rope: something to make sure Nanaimo Yacht Charters is aware of otherwise they will go through another rode pretty quickly.
Into Stuart Channel again we amused ourselves doing MOB drills and basically going around in circles slowly getting further and further away from our ultimate destination of Dodd Narrows. We need to wait for slack anyway so it was a good time to get a good handle on the two under sail MOB techniques. I think we finally did. At least Tim stopped saying things like “That’s interesting” which is Tim-speak for “Wow, I never though anyone would do anything so crazy.”
We fought our way back north and eventually furled the jib so we could make the run into Dodd Narrows under power. Its a pretty congest time with tons of motorboats zooming in or out of the narrows leading up to slack and a more stately parade of sailboats and barges trying to hit it right on. It is the place where you find a lot of arrogance and rudeness though, as people who ought to know better fail to respect the gravity of the situation with their big ol’ powerboats. Anyway no big excitement.
As soon as we exited the wind freshened up and we unrolled the jib and started to tack our way up Northumberland Channel. We passed one of the RCN’s Orca class boats heading for the Narrows; that would have been something bit nerve wracking to meet coming at you in the narrow channel. But I guess he has power to spare so can make the run quite a bit after slack. We finally turned into Nanaimo Harbour and it looked like we could have sailed her right in to the marina if we wanted to.
We dropped the sails just before we squeezed into the channel between Nanaimo and Newcastle Island and motored off to the gas dock. Docking was good and we filled up the tank with a mighty $46 of diesel. Compared to the $550 that At Last chewed through on our last outing with Tim, I am going to say that sail is the way to go. We cast off and I backed the Sante into her slip for a last time. We had the option of heading out again after we dropped Tim off but everyone was pretty tired and overwhelmed and we decided to take the night off. Tomorrow was going to be busy enough as it was.
We said our thanks to Tim and bid him adieu. He was off to a fishing trip in Port Renfrew and had a bit of a drive ahead of him.
We cleaned up and headed to the pub for dinner and a cold beer. There was a DJ setting up for a music trivia night but we were fading fast and decided to head back to the boat for some well earned rest. Tomorrow L and I are off to her Families annual reunion in Coombs and C is switching boats.
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There she was: our new home for the next 6 days. The Ocean Pearl is a Byliner 3888 with twin 175 HP Hino diesels, a LOA of 42 feet and a beam of 13.5 ft. By the numbers she isn’t much bigger than the Sante but man oh man she looks huge.
First things first we shower up and start packing. Around 9:30 we start moving our gear over and are just amazed and the differences between the two boats. Its like going from a high tech tent trailer to one of those monster busses: everything is just bigger and splashier.
L’s parents show up arond 11 to pick us up and we end up heading to BP’s for breakfast/early lunch. I looks like we have lots of time so we end up deciding to head down to Chemainus for a bit of a walkabout. I’d only ever been there on the rainy night of my birthday so it was nice to see in the daylight.
Afterwards we piled back into the van and headed to Coombs. Leslie’s maternal family mostly ended up on the island so every year they get together for golf/mini golf and a barbeque, this year it was at Len’s place. Really nice people. We got there a bit late but it was all good. I was really a bit stuffed after eating again though: maybe that will save me some money on the rest of the trip?
We also found out that Leslie’s parents had bought an old 70s era trailer and were fixing it up for Stephen. He should be moving in soon. It sounded a awful lot like the place Doug got. Coincidence?
Back in the van we headed to Nanaimo. We said our good byes and walked down the wharf to the new boat. C wasn’t in attendance so we decided to go see if we could find her at the restaurant or pub. Walking up the dock I could see her bun across the water and told Leslie she was eating onthe patio of the Beefeater. She was just enjoying a cafe Latte through a straw when we walked up. She’d just finished a magnificent bowl of bouillabaisse and soon talked Leslie into trying it. I settled for a glass of Pinot blanc.
It was still early enough so we loaded up the car and headed for some groceries! By the time we got back were were supplied for a week long orgy of booze and meat; it was awesome. Anyway, we stowed the supplies and hit the sack as Ian was coming in the morning to give us the official boat tour.
Happy Bastille Day!
The morning started, as they often do, with a shower and a cup of coffee. Then it was wait for Ian and our checkout. After he arrived we went through the basics, looked over the generator and electrical and then worked through the electric davit system on the tender. Ian said with the 30 horse outboard a single person could easily get it out on a plane and do around 30 knots; that’s twice the speed of the Ocean Pearl. After we asked a few questions Ian helped us cast off and i gently inched the behemoth out of her slip and down the finger before finally emerging into the channel and a little breathing room.
First up was some docking practice. Boy do I need practice. We headed down to the waste pumpout and took a bunch of tries at remembering how to run a twin screw. I nailed it a couple of times but then either the increasing off-the-dock wind or my rapidly increasing pulse pretty much dictated I wasn’t going to be bale to graceful get it at the dock again. So i gave up and headed over to Mark Bay to give a mooring boy a try. We did it stern first off the swim grid and it went smooth as silk.
That accomplished we decided it was time to cruise. We took a look at the charts and since Leslie didn’t want to anchor our first night out and I didn’t want to attempt a crowded marina we headed for Montague Bay and its lovely arrangement of mooring Buoys. We were pretty much on time for transiting Dodd Narrows a bit early but with the powerboat we didn’t have to be as precise.
After we slipped through the narrows without incidence I opened her up and we were soon zooming along at a little over 17 knots. We were probably burning through rule at 3 or 4 times the normal rate so I dropped it back down to a more sedate 10.5 knots and we motored on to Montague.
Leslie brought her around the point and into the bay while I spotted for empty buoys. We found one or two left (thank goodness) and slowly sidled up to one nice and close to the shore. Once we had everything shut down we dropped the tender, climbed aboard and zoomed off for the provincial park’s dock. What we didn’t do was make a note of our buoy number so we could register and pay for our moorage; that meant another trip back later. Probably a good thing because I also need practice docking the stupid dinghy; I swear its harder to bring along side than the big boats.
We wandered across beaches and oyster beds and then walked over to the other side of the point to look at on Trincomali Channel from the lovely shell beach there. We saw lots of tiny crabs and C was pretty sure she saw a mink loping across the edge of the beach. Fora while we watched an otter fishing or maybe crabbing, but he eventually buggered off when a fisherman brought his boat into the boat ramp. It was a lovely,quiet experience after the stress of the sailing and we spent some time just staring off into the distance. But eventually we headed back to the boat, grabbed the buoy number and backtracked to pay our fees. Then back to the boat of good.
C whipped up a big jug of sangria and we had a lovely evening watching the sun go down and stars come out. After dark had started to settle in, a high speed aluminum boat came zooming in with flashing blue lights. It was an ambulance boat and it raced through the anchorage with wild abandon, coming to a rest at the public docks where we could see an ambulance drive down to meet it. I not sure which way the patient was going.
While this was happening a larger trawler named Seafoam creeped into the anchorage in the dark and set anchor. Not something I was going to attempt. It was also notable because SeaFoam was one of the sample names in our ROC(M) course so we all had a lot of practice calling her. Right after she settled in the ambulance boat came out of the anchorage not quite as fast as she zoomed it but then opened up as soon as she was clear of the anchored boats. I suspect she was trying to make it back to Ganges (or maybe Victoria?) before it went pitch black.
As the light fled Leslie tried to show C the phosphorescence in the water but nothing happened. A little later after it was completely dark we tried dragging a rope through the water again and sure enough all the sparkly little fairy lights came out to play. It really is the coolest thing…
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Up and at ’em in Montague Bay. The Bayliner has an electric range and a generator so morning coffee/tea involves firing up a small diesel. Not quite the quiet solitude of mornings in a sailboat.
We toasted and oatmealed up and I grabbed a quick rinse in our fancy-dancy shower and then it was time to motor. I fired up the twin diesels and secured our tender, and L slipped the bow line off the mooring buoy.
A few minutes later we idled out of the moorage and I revved them up to about 2200 rpm and we were heading south across Trincomali Channel. It looked like about two hours to Brentwood Bay in the Saanich Inlet, which was the day’s destination. After we entered Captains Passage by Saltspring I opened up the throttles and we hit around 17 knots.
The plotter said that would cut only about 35 minutes off our route and I knew we were guzzling gas like crazy, so I cut back to a calm 11 knots and away we went.
We passed a few ferries and a lot of beautiful homes. As we turned into the Saanich Inlet Leslie took over and I snapped some shots.
About 15 minutes out C got on the VHF and called the marina. The connection was pretty bad so we changed to the newer flybridge radio. It was a bit better and we confirmed they had a spot and that they knew we were crazy sailing fools with a monster 42′ powerboat. We signed off and told them we would call when we were closer.
I took over and the crew prepared to dock, putting out the fenders and lines. As the marina came into view they came back on the radio and confirmed there was a nice easy berth at Charlie 8 and 9. A small dodge around a 45-50 footer and I brought it alongside a nice empty dock.
We tied up, chatted with the dock guys and then plugged in and got ready to explore. There’s a sushi place here and we are just in time for lunch. There is also a free pool, free showers and a spa. Our plan is lunch and then freeing the tender up to zoom over to the dingy dock at Butchard Gardens.
C and I made a pact to try some oysters on a half shell as neither of us had tried them yet. Our lovely waitress helpfully picked out a few local bays to sample and we ordered an assortment of sushi. But, much to our dismay/ delight, the oyster chef had not yet started his shift and they were unavailable. Oh well, the sushi was excellent.
Back at the boat we unshipped the tender and headed across the bay to the Butchard Garden dingy dock. We tied up and headed up the ramp to the secret boater’s entrance and forked over the entrance admission.
The Japanese gardens are right there and we started the afternoon in calm serenity. Next up: formal Italian.
The problem with these tourist attractions is the tourists. The problem with path-based tourist attractions is you tend to be stuck with the same tourists over and over. But it’s ok, we are magnanimous and it was all good.
A scorching hot day but a pretty place to visit. The roses looked a bit blown but everything else was pretty damn fancy. We stopped for soft serve and got dirty on the lawn for a break. But then it was back to the trenches.
I was surprised I enjoyed it so much; gardens usually aren’t really my thing, but the scale and history of the place added a nice spice.
Eventually we headed back through the Japanese gardens to the tender and scrambled aboard. A nice tour of the seaside and we made a dubious docking back at the Pearl. This tender has a center steer and I haven’t got the hang of docking it at all.
After a brief pause I climbed back aboard and took it out into the inlet to see what she could do. After I opened her up she clawed her way into a plane and started skimming across the water at an awesome rate of speed.
Soon it was beer time. After a cold one we toured the wharf, checking out the boats, and headed to the pub and our date with ‘Oysters on a Half Shell’
They were out. And out of mussels as well. We almost cried. Instead we ordered a couple of Fat Tugs and drowned our sorrows in pulled pork and chowder. Dinner was good. Leslie decided to repeat lunch and had the sushi… Mmmmmm. A nice stroll after dinner and it was back to the marina.
On the way back we saw a raccoon under the boardwalk. We were about 15 feet away, as close as I’ve been. Even better about three minutes later a small kit popped his head out, eventually followed by two more. Mom and two of the babes walked off down the beach but eventually No. 3 decided that he wasn’t going to left behind and charged off to catch up.
Back on the boat we unfolded the chairs and opened a nice cold bottle of French white to accompany the sunset. Unfortunately it was a red we’d stuffed in the fridge by mistake. Oh well… it goes well with the oysters…
Anyway we’ve settled in to enjoy the evening:
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