Now that I’m back in BC I’m planning a trip out sailing for a few weeks. Was thinking that I might try to head to Desolation Sound but it’ll take about 6 days to get there and six days back so I won’t have much time to explore, but hey this is about the sailing right… Deb agreed to head out with me for the weekend at Montague, she’d get the ferry back and I’ll continue on. I talked with my former business partner and friend Cameron and he agreed to meet me in Nanaimo for most of the rest of the trip North.
Sara took the ferry over from Vancouver to join us for the weekend so Deb, Sara and I set out from Sidney on Saturday morning. There was a nice southeast wind and we got to sail most of the way to Montague. Bonus! Sara was feeling a little seasick so Deb fed her some Mrs. Vicky’s salt and vinegar chips which always works wonders. We pulled in, dropped anchor near the marina and had a quick bite to eat and a drink as we straightened things away and headed in to catch the bus to the Hummingbird Pub. The ride to the pub on the pub bus is a fun experience. The bus driver is a fun loving hippie who handed out instruments and had us all singing and banging whatever instrument (maracas, tambourine, drum, etc) we had in our hands to the beat of old 60s tunes blaring out on the loudspeakers… It was a perfect start to a night that we figured would go down in the history books. Not so much… We got to the pub and it was fairly busy and we couldn’t find a table so we sat at the bar. The lady at the bar was super busy and stressed and explained they were very understaffed. She was nice and kept apologizing for the slow service as several patrons visibly upset. We finally got our drinks after 30 minutes and it took another 30 to get food but we were in no hurry and were having a laugh talking and sharing pictures on our phones… We stayed for another drink and went back out to catch the bus back to the marina, took the inflatable back to the boat and turned in for the night.
The next morning we headed in to the little marina restaurant for a few cocktails and brunch. We spent most of the day walking in the park and hanging out on the beach. Deb made arrangements for the girls to have a spa day on Monday and I planned to set sail towards Nanaimo…
I departed Monday around noon, chugged north thru Trincomali Channel and made plans with Cam to meet him in Nanaimo Tuesday afternoon. That’ll give me a night somewhere between Montague and Nanaimo. I think I’ll head to Silva Bay, a little bay on the south end of Gabriola Island. It’s a great little spot that I visited several times years ago on my previous sailboat, Alleluia. I was a little concerned about motoring thru Porlier Pass as Porlier is known to be a nasty spot (rocks, back eddies, strong currents) when the current is running (it can get up to 6 knots) but I arrived near slack so everything was ok.
I arrived at Silva Bay around 18:00 and it was packed… I circled several times but didn’t feel comfortable about squeezing Treylya into the middle of the tight fleet that was anchored so I moved towards the entrance and found a spot near the northeast opening to the bay. I dropped the hook and once I had it set I realized I was a little closer to a big wooden power boat than I would have liked. Luckily there was no wind so I headed below to make dinner and take a break. The whole time I was down there I was assessing the situation and as the sun was setting I decided to haul anchor and reset it a little further from my neighbour. I felt much better about the new placement (as I’m sure my neighbour was as well) so I crawled into the sleeping bag to catch some sleep.
I woke several times during the night to check on things and make sure I wasn’t drifted onto my neighbour but everything was fine so I drifted back to sleep. Next morning I had breakfast and got underway around 09:20. There was little wind so I enjoyed a quick steam north to Nanaimo.
I arrived outside the Nanaimo Inner Harbour and when I radioed in I was assigned a berth at S dock… S dock? Hmmm… Not familiar with that one… Turns out it’s a dock across the harbour from the amenities and is primarily used by large boats. I was sandwiched in between two massive boats which made Treylya look somewhat out of place…
Cam took the ferry over from North Vancouver and met me at the marina. We dropped his stuff at the boat and headed over to the grocery store to pick up the necessities (beer, wine, food and water) for the next few days of sailing. Next we jumped in the inflatable and headed over to the Dingy Dock Pub on Newcastle Island for dinner. The Dingy Dock Pub is one of those places you have to visit if you are visiting Nanaimo by boat. It’s a neat little pub with good food and live music. Cam and I enjoyed dinner on the patio and watched the boats come and go as the sun settled over the horizon. We headed back to the boat and John Day, Treylya’s former owner, came down to meet us for a beer on the boat. It was great seeing John again. John, Cameron and I worked together back in the early 2000’s at WebTech and Cameron and John had lots to catch up on.
Next day Cam and I cleaned up, set out around 10:30 and hoisted the sails when we rounded Protection Island. Unfortunately the wind was from the NW which was the direction we wanted to go so we decided to point as high as we could and sail across Georgia Straight. If all goes as planned we’d end up somewhere over near the south end of Lasqueti Island where we could just anchor in one of the bays over there.
While we were heading across I noticed I didn’t have my handheld radio turned on so I flicked it on and within a minute or two I heard some chatter on the radio from Winchelsea Island to a sailboat somewhere. Cam and I were enjoying the strong wind and though we couldn’t make the progress we wanted this was better than tacking back and forth into that wind. We watched as a large US Navy vessel steamed south towards us. Man, those are BIG vessels that move VERY FAST. Luckily it looks like it’s heading behind us so we don’t have to worry about getting run over… Another hailing over the radio… This time it said “This is US freighter so and so hailing the sailing vessel which is three miles south of Winchelsea Island and is heading northeast. You are about to enter the restricted military training area Whisky Golf.” I looked at the charts and realized we were about three miles South of Winchelsea Island… and were heading NE. Hmmmm… All of a sudden sirens started blasting out of the freighter and it turned course directly behind us. Gulp… That’s me they’re hailing!!! Again they came on the radio “This is US freighter so and so hailing the sailing vessel which three miles south of Winchelsea Island and is heading northeast. You are about to enter the restricted military training area Whisky Golf. Alter your course 123 degrees.” I grabbed the handheld and responded that we were altering course as directed. Yikes… What a fright… I had forgotten about the restricted area WG! WG is a restricted military training area outside of Nanaimo harbour that extends about 12 miles north along Vancouver Island. It’s not always active but turns out today it was and we were close to entering it. We altered course and the large freighter proceeded to chase us out of there. My knees were shaking and after what felt like an eternity it finally changed course satisfied we were no longer a threat. Lesson learnt.
Cam and I spent the rest of the day beating into the wind as we tacked back and forth between Vancouver Island and WG as we crawled our way northwest. Groan… After 05:22 we covered over 20 nm zig zagging our way northwest but the progress was only about 6.5 nm as the crow flies… Around 16:00 we finally finished our last tack and were able to sail directly towards our destination. We dropped the sails outside of Schooner Cove and motored in for the evening. Schooner Cove turned out to be a great little spot to spend the evening. It’s a resort and spa that’s currently under renovations so none of the spa amenities were operational but Cam and I weren’t looking to soak in a hot tub this evening. We were just looking for a safe harbour for the night and this was perfect.
Next morning the winds were once again blowing pretty good (16-20 knots) from the northwest. We cast off at 9:45 and motored northwest into the wind and after an hour we rounded Gerald Island. Once we felt we were far enough northwest to sail we hoisted the sails and enjoyed a thrilling sail across Ballenas Channel, and then across Georgia Straight to the southern tip of Lasqueti Island. We were sailing close-hauled with the boat heeling well over so that water was lapping over the deck and were enjoying over 6 knots most of the way. It was a quick sail across and at 13:00 we dropped the sails, started the motor and motored north thru Bull Passage. We planned on dropping the anchor in one of the small bays (Deep Bay or White Rock Bay) near Jedediah Island but they were full so we went across and anchored at the NW end of Boho Bay. Boho is pretty exposed to the south and is not a great place to anchor but in a NW wind it provides adequate protection. Cam went exploring in the inflatable and I relaxed in the heat. Tonight was the peak of the Perseid meteor shower so after dinner we settled in with a couple of sleeping bags and ample drinks on the deck to wait for the show. It was a beautiful clear night and due to the lack of light pollution thousands of stars filled the sky. I was lying on the deck under a sky of diamonds and I slowly drifted into asleep. Cam woke me up as it was nearing midnight and the forecasted start of the show. We watched a few shooting stars but they were few and far between so I fell back asleep after 20 minutes and missed the whole thing…
Next morning we got an early start and weighed anchor at 6:30. We planned to head to Tribune Bay, Hornby Island and get a rest before we set out on a night sail to Savary Island later tonight. It was another beautiful morning with a NW wind. We motored northwest around Lasqueti Island, raised the sails and sailed across Georgia Straight to Tribune Bay. Tribune Bay is a beautiful large sandy anchorage with a magnificent large sandy beach. Cam and I dropped the hook and headed up to the market. The market on Hornby Island is such a treat. It’s filled with easy going hippies who run the eateries, grocery / general store and small clothing shops. Everyone is relaxed and cheerful and there is a feeling of peace. We had lunch, looked around, picked up groceries and then headed back to the boat. Cam had a swim and then we relaxed in the shade for a short nap.
We got up around 19:00, had a bite to eat and got ready to set out again. One of the items on my sailing bucket list is a night sail. We’ve been planning this for a while now and finally the evening had arrived. We raised the anchor just before 21:00 and motored out into Georgia Straight. The wind was once again to the NW which meant we’d have to beat into it as we sailed north. We raised the sails and our eyes adjusted to the growing darkness. It was another beautiful evening and the moon lit up the sky so that things were surprisingly visible. We headed across towards Texada Island but after a couple of miles the lights from a tug hauling a log boom were off our starboard so we tacked back towards Hornby again. Once near Hornby we tacked back out into Georgia Straight and towards Texada Island once again. The lights from the tug grew more and more distant and after an hour we began to feel all alone out in the straight in the darkness. It’s amazing that the lights are visible for miles and miles in the dark. You can see the lights of ships further at night than during the day.
All of a sudden, a whoosh and a motor boat appeared just off our port side. I glanced over and could see a man and woman in the cabin of their boat, their worried faces lit up from the glow of chart plotter they were huddled around. They were motoring along with no running lights on (which made it impossible to see them) and they had no one on watch. The wind was blowing so I didn’t hear them either until they were within 10 feet of us. What a rush! Luckily they saw our lights thru their window and avoided us at the last second. That was too close for comfort… They were gone as quickly as they appeared so I couldn’t see a name of a boat to hail them to warn them that they didn’t have their running lights on.
The wind was blowing pretty good so we sailed for the entire night, watching for lights of tugs and cruise ships and monitoring the movement of ships on an AIS app I had installed on my iPhone. We could only see the water about 6 feet from the boat so I had visions of us smashing into a dead head at any point, which was a little unnerving. We had to tack a few times to avoid traffic but the night went pretty uneventful. Cam and I took 2 hour shifts which provided a little time to get some sleep and by the time the sun came up we were both in pretty good shape. The winds jumped up into the mid 20s as the sun was rising but fortunately we were north enough to now run broad-reach over towards the mainland.
We rounded Harwood Island to the south and started the motor as the wind was now on our nose and we had enough of beating into the wind under sail. The wind dropped back a bit and we chugged for a couple of hours up to Lund and tied up at the marina there. Whew finally made it!
Lund is as far north as we’re going to sail and the plan is to catch the ferry over to Savary Island and relax for a few days at Cameron’s summer cottage there before heading home.
We took the ferry over from Lund. A daily ferry service operates in the summer and it’s a quick trip over from Lund. Savary Island is a beautiful little island that’s surrounded by sandy beaches. It’s a very quite island with only a few full time residents but gets busy in the summer as the tourists flock to it’s cottages. There’s a pub and general store on the island but not much else. There are not many good anchorages but you can find safe harbour from a south wind on it’s north side. The south side of the island has a few places to drop the hook but it’s fairly tricky to get close in a low tide as the shoreline is peppered with huge rocks just under the surface and there’s a shoal that extends several miles to the south that a boater must be wary of. Cam has a nice little spot on the north side of the island, high on a bluff and overlooking the ocean below. It’s facing Desolation Sound to the North and is a peaceful place to relax on those warm summer days.
We hung out for a few days and did a few odd jobs such as replacing a few of the planks on the patio and painting it and fixing the walkway down to the beach. Mostly I just hung out in the hammock and played with the resident deer that visited us every afternoon.
After a couple of restful days I’m feeling ready to tackle the trip back south…
(Continued on Part 2)
Day 1: Sidney to Montague
Date: August 06, 2016
11:30 – 16:51 (05:21)
Distance: 17.4 nm
Sail Time: 03:43
Engine Time: 01:38
Day 2: Montague to Silva Bay
Date: August 08, 2016
11:45 – 17:47 (06:02)
Distance: 21.9 nm
Sail Time: 00:00
Engine Time: 06:02
Day 3: Silva Bay to Nanaimo
Date: August 09, 2016
09:22 – 12:51 (03:28)
Sail Time: 00:00
Engine Time: 03:28
Day 4: Nanaimo to Schooner Cove
Date: August 10, 2016
10:30 – 17:28 (6:57)
Distance: 25.8 nm
Sail Time: 06:11
Engine Time: 00:46
Day 5: Schooner Cove to Boho Bay
Date: August 11, 2016
09:45 – 14:14 (3:31)
Distance: 15.2 nm
Sail Time: 02:21
Engine Time: 01:10
Day 6: Boho Bay to Tribune Bay
Date: August 12, 2016
06:27 – 12:47 (06:19)
Distance: 18.8 nm
Sail Time: 02:18
Engine Time: 04:01
Day 7: Tribune Bay to Lund (Night Sail)
Date: August 12-13, 2016
20:50 – 10:51 (+1) (14:08)
Distance: 50.6 nm
Sail Time: 10:22
Engine Time: 03:41
(Continued on Part 2)