Blog log #1
Port of Sidney is a lovely destination and we had about 10 boats arriving between Friday 7/8 and Sunday
7/10. Customs was our biggest challenge. For those of us that tried to clear customs on Friday we had
the additional challenge of a national phone service outage that affected the phone number for Nexus
and all customs clearances as well as the phone at the customs dock. Saturday the phones were back up but we had a new challenge. The customs dock was largely taken up by a police boat that left only
about 40’ of the dock available for boats trying to clear at the dock. The port had a waiting list for
arriving boats to get onto the customs dock, but not everyone realized there was a queue. Clearing
customs took anywhere from an hour to 3 hours. Once customs was cleared, and all of us were safely tied to our slips we spent our time provisioning at the market and liquor store as well as shopping for the sundries that somehow didn’t make it on the boat (shorts, sweat pants…) Sunday was brisk and breezy but that didn’t stop us from having a lovely happy hour get together complete with music provided by friends of Mike and Julie North.
Blog log #2
The Saga Continues:
Dave and I missed Montague as we stayed an extra night in Sidney to get a new water pump installed on
our starboard engine. With this repair and our sawdust patch (for any of you who haven’t heard the
story we’ll be happy to share at a future yacht club event), we are now fully functional and relatively
leak free hopefully for the duration of our trip. I understand Montague was a great time and yet
another happy hour event was enjoyed. We all met up again in Silva Bay at Pages Marina. There was a
fairly stiff breeze blowing us onto the dock as we came in and thanks to Paul Hendrickson and one of the marina dock staff there was no damage to the Countess from the pilings. After we got in and tied up,
the wind shifted and we were being blown off the dock, which was a little worrisome given the state of
the docks and the weight of the Countess. We all enjoyed another happy hour in the park, followed by tours of the Countess to anyone interested. For those of us going on to cross the Strait of Georgia on Wednesday we had a discussion of the best time to leave based on the strong wind warnings for Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Based on our Predict wind models it looked like the power boats would be leaving between 12:30 and 1:00 and the sailboats would leave earlier to take advantage of the wind. Joe and Elaine crossed on Tuesday and would be waiting for us to arrive. The evening culminated with the rise of a brilliant orange super moon, which was one of the most magnificent moons I’ve seen. Wednesday July 13 th our little group split up as the boats who were staying in the Gulf islands left around 10:30 and those of us going on across the Strait waited for the winds to die. The weather predictions proved accurate and by leaving at 1:00, Caribe and Countess had a smooth crossing. The smooth water lulled us into a false security though as we approached John Henry Marina. There was a strong wind blowing off the dock and currents pushing off as well. After many, to quote Paul “not sure how many” tries Caribe made it into their slip, and after at least 3 attempts and 4 or 5 Lopez Yacht club members bribed with drinks, we finally got Countess into the dock and tied up. Joe and Eileen came over from Garden Bay by dinghy to hear crossing horror stories and all we could offer were stories of our docking traumas. We got together for a captains meeting on Countess to decide our next destination. I’m not sure if any decisions were made, but we had a great time. Stay tuned for our decisions and more adventures.
Blog log #3
Wind, what wind?
I told myself that once we crossed the Strait of Georgia, we would always be travelling in the shelter of
islands and there’d be no more weather worries. Evidently I lied to myself just a little bit. Well maybe a
lot. Sailboats left John Wayne Marina first and sent back reports of water rolly on the beam as you first
left the shelter of Pender Harbor. Once you got out and on course though the wind was about 14 knots
from the south so they were having a great time sailing. We left about 11:00 and got out into 3 to 4 ft
seas, on the beam. Lots of slamming and breaking and I learned why it’s a good idea to lock the pantry
doors and take the shot glasses off the shelf before leaving the slip. We changed course so that we
were taking the water on the bow and about halfway across to Texada island the water changed we
could get back on course and the wind was behind us. Much better. An additional bonus was that we
got a 2 to 3 knot push which cut about 45 minutes off of our time. When we left John Henry marina and
were totally trashed, I sent a text to Paul and Crista on Caribe with the advice “stay there!” They bravely
set out twice and went back after getting the crap kicked out of them. Not ones to give up they waited
until around 3:30 to leave and made it to Lund before dark. Lund is a cute little stop with a nice art/gift gallery, liquor store and grocery store. The Boardwalk restaurant serves great pub fare and is a very short walk from the Marina office. Karen and Glen secured a patio table for us at the Boardwalk restaurant where there was a lovely gentleman playing guitar and providing a variety of folk rock music. Food, service and adult beverages were all very good. We had a lot of discussion about Glen’s infected finger which had gone from bad to worse and really needed to be treated. Nancy found a clinic in Powell River that could see him on Friday so they planned to delay their arrival to Grace Harbour. In the morning Caribe and Countess enjoyed a hearty breakfast on Countess before picking up a few provisions in the Lund grocery store. Many salt and vinegar chips were purchased to replenish supplies on Courbeau
By noon everyone was on their way to Grace Harbour where Brian and Melissa with their two boys were
waiting for us. Caribe and Lagertha found good anchorage in the inner Harbor with Courbeau. Countess
however made the dubious decision to anchor outside the bay with a couple of other larger boats. To
our credit we stayed on board for at least an hour and a half, then being confident we were stuck we left
to take Chewie to shore and have a little walk about. Back to Countess to feed little Chewie and head to
Corbeau for happy hour we still were blissfully unaware that there was a 14’ tide swing and we had
nowhere near enough scope. Suddenly in the middle of our carefree happy hour there was a horn blast
from the large boat that we had anchored by in the outer bay. We were also being hailed on 16. We
looked out and there was Countess heading out into the middle of the channel. Joe got on the radio
and we jumped into our dinghy followed by Paul and Barry in theirs. We sped off jumped on Countess,
and got the engines started. Now for those of you who don’t know Countess, the only way to start the
engines is from the engine room, and to pull the anchor we need to start a very loud 20 KW generator
straight piped out the stern. We got everything started pulled the anchor and headed into the inner bay
to anchor next to Corbeau. In the mean time I looked back and saw our dinghy, happily headed away
from us out the channel. I guess in our panic to get the engines started we both thought the other
person tied up the dinghy. Nope. Oh and the keys were in it and it was in gear. Paul and Barry went
after our dinghy and we headed in to drop the anchor. You would think that this would be then end of
this adventure, right? Wrong. We got the anchor down next to Courbeau and Dave at Joes direction let
out all 160 ft of chain with the addition of about 20 feet of our cable. I went to the stern to hand the
stern line to Joe who took it to shore to feed it through the ring. Joe was still shouting directions but
since there was no way to hear him over the engines and the generator we refer to as the big green
monster, Dave went to the stern to use our stern controls. Now these controls are rarely used and react
differently than our forward controls so they jerked a little. Just enough to pull Joe into the water. He
made it back into his dinghy and we finally got anchored and stern tied. Thanks very much to Joe for
keeping a cool head inspite of the unexpected swim!
The next day was a little chilly and damp with a mix of sun and clouds. Grace Harbor is really beautiful
and secluded and there’s a short hike to a fresh water lake that’s a perfect spot for swimming. Paul,
Crista, Elayne, Nemo and I decided to take the hike to the lake. Paul for a swim, the rest of us for
exercise. The best spot to tie up the dinghy was rocky with one rock that was extremely slippery. I had
found it the day before and warned Crista about it as she almost slipped. The trail was extremely muddy
and mosquito repellent was a must. It was still a nice hike with a little snack of a few ripe huckleberries
on the way to the lake. Back we went to the dinghy and I was very careful to test each rock before
stepping down. Well I guess the slippery rock was just waiting for me, because despite my caution down
I went. I landed hard, with my right arm down to break my fall. No, I didn’t break my arm thank
goodness! But I did jam my shoulder hard enough that my fingers tingled and I couldn’t lift my arm
higher than my shoulder. Now we had Glen with an injured finger and me with a messed up shoulder. I
have to say that if you’re going to get hurt you couldn’t be with a nicer bunch of people. Back to
Countess to change muddy clothes, take Advil and ice down my shoulder. With treatment advice from
Elayne and borrowed Advil and Tylenol I was soon feeling relatively better. A visit from Melissa, Brian
and their boys also did a lot to cheer me up. We opted to stay an extra night at Grace to let Glen and I
heal. Fortunately by morning I could lift my arm again but it was still stiff and sore. Caribe broke off for
a stop in Okeover inlet to visit some friends and enjoy a fabulous dinner at the Oyster Catcher.
After 3 nights at Grace Harbor we all left for a new anchorage.
Blog log #4
Melanie Cove, Prideaux Haven and Swimming with the Jellies.
What new adventures could our little crew be in store for now? I’m happy to report that the excitement
seems to be behind us and we’ve settled in for what we all expected when we started. Warm weather,
amazing scenery, calm waters and fabulous company. Skye, Corbeau, Kindred Spirit and Lagertha
anchored, rafted and stern tied in Melanie Cove. Caribe came in to rejoin our flotilla in Melanie Cove a
little later, and Countess anchored in Prideaux Haven. The scenery here is breath taking with snow
capped mountains, and spectacular sunrises on one side, and sunsets on the other. Whether anchored
in Prideaux Haven or Melanie Cove it’s a lovely area. There’s a trail that connects Melanie cove with
Laura cove and it’s described as “well worn with some scrambling over trees that have come down over
the trail” . We dinghied over to find the trail just about low tide. We discovered that the area to leave
the dinghy was really not practical at low tide for 2 humans, one with a bad shoulder, and a little old dog
with a bad back so we went back to visit our flotilla and confirm that we would be having our traditional
5:00 happy hour. We did make it to the trail the next day but Chewie was less than impressed with
getting stuck under fallen trees and being lifted over others. We ran into Paul, Crista and Nemo heading
back to their dinghy from the trail and when Chewie saw his new best friend Nemo heading back to the
beach he left his mom and dad behind and I swear he waved as he trotted back to the dinghy after
Nemo. The water was warm and the weather was perfect for a swim. Jamie, Owen, Melissa, Paul and Nancy were all staying cool swimming behind the boats. Nancy looking down, saw a bloom of jellyfish below her and got an amazing picture. She was like a Lopez mermaid swimming with the jellies!
Every evening happy hour included a discussion of where we were going to go in the next few days. Lots
of ideas were exchanged and many cheese and crackers. We had planned 2 nights at Melanie
Cove/Prideaux Haven but Countess ran into friends from Seattle so we stayed an extra night . The main
flotilla left for Pendrell Sound for more swimming and hiking. I heard some wonderful stories of petrographs, swimming, and hiking in Pendrell Sound. The water was 70 degrees and the views were beautiful. I also heard there were more happy hours with more cheese and crackers.
The next destination for the main group was Von Donop Inlet. I heard the trails were a little rugged with
lots of downed trees to climb over and under. There’s a trail from Von Donop to Squirrel cove but from
what I understand the trail was not well marked and no one made it from Von Donop to Squirrel cove.
While the rest of the group was anchored, hiking and swimming, Dave and I took a side trip to Toba
Wilderness. The marina has been remodeled and really improved since the last time we were there.
They’ve added a few docks and they are now sturdy cement with power and water on the dock. There’s
a nice gathering area at the top of the ramp for evening cocktails and impromptu meetings of what we
like to call our new best friends that we’ve never met before (and maybe will never meet again). We
attempted one of the hikes but were put off by the heat and the warning of bear sightings. The views
from the dock are spectacular, with amazing sunsets. We left after one night to meet up with our flotilla in Squirrel Cove. Countess anchored close to the entrance of the channel which gave us the best view to welcome each of our group as they entered the bay. The water outside the entrance was pretty choppy but once in Squirrel it was warm and calm.
Caribe opted to stay in Von Donop but the whole crew will be together again in Gorge Harbor.
Gorge Harbor is a lovely marina, and if you look closely you can see petroglyphs on the rock walls at the
entrance. After we were tied to the dock and plugged in we were delighted to see Skye across the dock
from us with my now new best friends Jamie and Owen. The kids headed to the pool while we headed to the restaurant for lunch. It was a little crowded but we were soon seated along with Glen and Nancy from Kindred Spirit. Mo and Barry from Lagertha found us and then Bonnie and Phil from Been There found us all in the restaurant. They had been delayed by weddings and other commitments but tracked us down at Gorge. We verified our dinner reservations and those that wanted to have dinner met at the restaurant at 5:00. Food was delicious and Michael our server did a fabulous job of keeping orders and bills straight. Gorge has live music on the lower patio every evening and after dinner we gathered on the lawn with blankets to listen to lively celtic music. The kids loved it an entertained us with dancing and much hill rolling. The rested between songs by landing on our blanket.
Gorge also had great hikes and these were well marked and easy to follow. Bonnie, Crista, Nemo and I
had a really nice hike early in the day before it got too hot. Paul and Crista from Caribe organized our
last happy hour together which we held in the shade of the Countess. We collected chairs and tables
from our boats and almost magically the tables were filled with chips, dips, fruit and of course cheeses
with crackers. During our final gathering, Elayne presented each boat with a lovely hand made talisman
made from a feather, a sprig of lavender and a small cedar bough. We broke up our happy hour when
the music started and it was a fun but bittersweet evening knowing everyone would be going their own
way in the morning. By the time I was up and out to walk the dog, all the sail boats were gone, and Bonnie and Phil were untying getting ready to leave. Caribe was planning to leave a little later so we weren’t totally alone but it was a little sad to see the empty slips.
This will be my last blog of our trip together but our adventures do continue and we will all continue to
send pictures of our homeward travels. This was our first long cruise with the Lopez Island Yacht club
and it was a wonderful experience. I hope you have all enjoyed my chronicles and we look forward to
getting together when we return.