Continued from Part 1…
Cam agreed to join me for a couple of nights for the sail back south.
We tidied up the cottage and caught the ferry back to Lund. We spent the night on the boat at the marina and got an early (05:50) start the next morning. It was still dark when we cast off and we motored south, past the shoal south of Savary Island and raised the sails as a NW wind was picking up. We enjoyed a nice sail for most of the day running downwind but about half way down Texada Island the swells started to build which made for an uncomfortable sail. We were making pretty good time and sailed south, between Texada and Lasqueti Islands. Once we were around the southern tip of Texada we started the motor and motored over to Secret Cove.
As we were nearing Secret Cove I could feel the engine slowing down and almost stall. I gave her more fuel using the throttle and after a few tense moments the engine picked back up and everything appeared ok. We chugged into the narrow passage to Secret Cove and pulled up to the fuel dock to fill up. We chatted with people at the marina and picked up a steak for the BBQ. The wind was picking up pretty good and there was a small craft warning on but this was a nice protected cove with lot’s room for several boats at anchor. We dropped the hook, fired up the BBQ and cracked a beer. By now it was howling but the anchor seemed well set as we danced back and forth on anchor. We hit the sack early as we were planning to drop Cameron over at Halfmoon Bay by 07:30 so that he could catch a taxi/ferry back to Vancouver. As we were settling in for the night a few fellas from the large boat behind us came over to let us know that they’d be leaving early and would need to pull up close to us as we were settled back near their anchor. We were planning on leaving early anyway so that was fine.
We woke up by 05:45 and had a quick bite and when we jumped up on deck to start the motor we noticed that the boat next to us was in the process of pulling their anchor and their boat was getting close. We fired up the engine and I pulled in our anchor rode which pulled the boat forward, away from the other boat. We waved and steamed out of the passage and around the corner to Halfmoon Bay. I slowed the boat as we neared the dock and the engine slowed and stalled as we drifted towards the public dock. Since the engine was off I didn’t have reverse but luckily we were going slow and I jumped off and used the stern line to slow and stop the boat before she crashed into the dock. Cam grabbed his bags and jumped onto the dock and helped me get her tied up. It turned out that we were on the Coast Guard dock which is off limits to pleasure craft but my motor wouldn’t start right away so I figured they’d be ok with me being there… Luckily it started back up after a few minutes and I was underway once again.
I motored out to Georgia Straight once again and turned south and raised the sails. The wind was up and to the NW once again so I sailed with the wind behind me. The swells grew and after a few hours I noticed I had entered Navy Practice Area WF. My understanding is that pleasure craft are allowed to enter WF but I can’t find a definite answer online so I’m not sure. However there I was, out in WF and I noticed three large navy vessels motoring in formation towards me. Yikes… I was still a little shellshocked about what happened in WG so I wasted no time to tack and head back out of the area. They got closer and formed a straight line and moved parallel with me towards the edge of the area. I’m not sure if they were just performing a training exercise or if they were trying to intimidate me but it worked so I continued to sail towards the edge to exit the zone. There was another sailboat sailing about 1 NM south of me which was sailing along the outside edge of the zone and the first ship passed directly in front of it and the 2nd ship passed directly behind it so I think they were just performing a training exercise.
It made for an interesting few hours before they finally moved off and disappeared down south. I continued South and about 6 NM to the west of the entrance to Gibsons harbour I noticed a large dark shadow following me for a while. Initially I was thinking it was a shadow from a cloud but I looked up and there were no clouds in the sky. It stayed about 50 meters behind me for a couple of miles and while I wasn’t sure if it was a whale or a submarine I assumed it was a submarine since I was near the DND sub surface operations area (Sea Area WE). Who knows… It slowly disappeared as I got within a couple of miles from the Gibson’s harbour entrance.
I sailed right into the harbour and dropped the sails outside of the Gibsons Marina and motored into my assigned slip. I was a little worried about the engine cutting out at the worst possible moment but all was well and I got tied up in my berth. I spent the day exploring around Gibsons and enjoyed a bite to eat at Molly’s Reach. It brought back many memories from various trips years ago. Also there’s the nostalgia that goes along with The Beachcombers, The Persephone and Molly’s Reach…
I relaxed all the next day, did laundry, showered and explored around Gibsons. It’s a beautiful little town that wasn’t too busy with tourists with a beautiful little walkway along the shoreline to town. I spent the evening at Grandma’s Pub and made arrangements to meet Deb and the girls in Vancouver tomorrow. I’ll sail and meet them somewhere downtown. The winds are forecast to be fairly high which should make for a quick sail.
Next morning came and I checked the forecast and the winds were suppose to be around 20 knots from the NW so it should be a brisk quick sail. I motored out thru Shoal Channel and into the straight and the winds were blowing pretty good as forecasted. I put up full sails and enjoyed a fairly stong wind behind me as I proceeded around the south end of Bowen Island. The wind picked up a little things were getting a little tense so I figured I’d reef in the jib a little to reduce the sail size. I put the autohelm on while I was adjusting the sail but the wind took control of the boat and rounded her up into the wind which caused the sails to flap uncontrollably. Groan. Out in Georgia Straight again with things getting a little harry. The wind had picked up to 28 knots and big swells were bouncing me around pretty good. I killed the auto-pilot and let the boat point into the wind while I wrestled in the jib. I managed to get things under control and fell off to sail downwind and towards Bowen Island. A ferry passed close by and the waves from the ferry combined with the other swells to make a confused sea. I fought thru it and sailed towards to the lee of Bowen Island.
Once in the lee of the island everything settled down and I called Deb and the girls to let them know of a change in plans. I decided to change plans and head into Snug Cove on Bowen Island instead of trying to make it for downtown Vancouver. It’ll be no fun to fight single-handed into Vancouver and find anchorage in a NW wind with a grumpy unreliable motor. Snug Cove is a beautiful little cove on Bowen Island and is well protected in a NW wind so I figured I’d just anchor there and take the ferry over to Horseshoe Bay to meet everyone. There were no vacancies in the anchorage so I made for the Snug Cove marina. Unfortunately there was no room at the marina but I managed to find a spot at the public wharf (right next door) by rafting up to another boat that was there.
Rafting is a common, acceptable practice when space is limited and while not every boat owner likes the idea of having someone else tied up next to them it’s perfectly legal. The owner of this boat wasn’t around so I tied up and jumped on the ferry for Horseshoe Bay to meet the girls.
It’s always so nice to spend time with my girls. So nice to see what beautiful young ladies they are becoming. Their mother has done a great job raising them and they are well grounded young women with positive outlooks on life. They really have bonded with Debbie and it seems like they enjoy spending time with us as much as we enjoy time with them.
We caught the ferry from Horseshoe Bay, picked up groceries and settled in for the night. The forecast for tomorrow was for moderate NW winds and we would need to make an early start to make the currents thru Porlier Pass tomorrow morning. I woke before 6am and monitored the forecast and the winds for a while before getting up. Deb joined me on deck and we agreed to let the girls sleep in while we cast off. The girls were up before we motored out of the cove as they were excited about the crossing in front of us. The NW wind was between 15 and 17 knots and the sea swells grew after a few hours. The conditions were fine but the large swells made for a crappy crossing. Taeya started feeling sick after a few hours, she turned white and started puking before long. Deb was next to start feeling sick so it was up so Brooklyn and I to steer the boat for the remainder of the day. Luckily the girls felt better once we turned south and the swells were behind us instead of hitting us on the side. We saw a pod of killer whales 500 meters or so off the starboard side and we enjoyed decent conditions the second part of the day.
There’s an area west of the mouth of the Fraser River where murky water from the silt of the Fraser mixes with the clear sea water to form a distinct line thru the Straight. It was kinda weird passing thru this line with the murky water on the Island (west) side of the Straight. This line appeared reversed as the murky water is typically on the Fraser River side but I guess with all the NW wind in the past few weeks it has blown the silt over to the other side of the Straight.
We sailed down past Active Pass towards Saturna Island and by good fortune (and a bit of planning) we arrived at Boat Passage and entered Winter Cove at slack. Boat Passage has an interesting history from the days of the rum runners which I’ve spoke of previously. We went for a hike, had a BBQ and turned in for the night.
Next morning we woke up and decided to make for Sidney. The wind was blowing from the south… just the direction we wanted to go. Groan. We motored out towards Plumper Sound and the waves started to build. I could see by the look on Taeya’s face that she was starting to feel seasick so instead of putting her thru another day of boating hell I turned around and headed to the Saturna Island ferry terminal. The ferry was pulling up just as we got near the terminal so we tied up to a private mooring buoy and jumped into the inflatable and I dropped the girls off on shore and they raced up to catch the ferry. Luck was on our side and they managed to catch it just in time. Whew.
I motored out into the sound and beat my way south as Treylya smashed thru the waves. I rounded the tip of South Pender Island and out into Boundary Pass and turned west towards home port. The wind was now behind me and I was fortunate enough to have the current behind me as well so I enjoyed a quick sail back to Sidney, often reaching speeds over 7.5 knots. I was nearing port around the same time Deb and the girls were so they just caught a taxi over to the marina to meet me. The motor stalled once again as I was pulling into my slip but I was again lucky enough to stop her using a line fastened to the wharf before she smashed into the dock.
Very disappointed now that the Volvo diesel motor is having issues and is stalling out. Groan… Another project…
We tidied up Treylya and headed for home. Whew… What a great few weeks… I need a rest.
Day 8: Lund to Secret Cove
Date: August 16, 2016
05:50 – 18:13 (12:23)
Distance: 51.8 nm
Sail Time: 10:19
Engine Time: 02:04
Day 9: Secret Cove to Gibsons
Date: August 17, 2016
06:00 – 14:13 (08:11)
Distance: 30.4 nm
Sail Time: 05:17
Engine Time: 02:54
Day 10: Gibsons to Snug Cove
Date:August 19, 2016
07:10 – 12:58 (05:48)
Distance: 17.4 nm
Sail Time: 04:19
Engine Time: 01:28
Day 11: Snug Cove to Winter Cove
Date:August 20, 2016
07:12 – 18:35 (11:23)
Distance: 41.5 nm
Sail Time: 05:24
Engine Time: 05:58
Day 12: Winter Cove to Sidney
Date:August 21, 2016
09:13 – 14:23 (05:10)
Distance: 19.6 nm
Sail Time: 01:49
Engine Time: 03:20
Trip Sail Time: 52:03
Trip Engine Time: 24:22
Trip Distance: 322.4 nm