August 16-26, 2014
You never know what you might see in a small town
parade: You might see a horse of a
|A zebra-striped horse|
You might see a Breast Cancer Awareness Float.
|This float was sponsored by a local business named "Bras for a Cause"...|
|....and it reminded people of the date for the annual Race for the Cure|
You might see a logging truck or the emergency services out
in full force.
|Sure hope those brakes work!|
At Port McNeill’s “Orca Fest,” we saw all of these,
including some floats that were actually centered around the parade’s loosely
interpreted theme: Where the Wild Things Are.
|Firemen and fire hose|
|A float sponsored by loggers|
The citizenry started lining the streets early in anticipation
of the parade.
|And one by a daycare center|
|Citizens start to line up for the Orca Fest Parade|
Some children were dressed up for the occasion, and many of them
had plastic or paper bags in their hands because, as we learned, parade
marchers throw treats in small town parades. We were in Canada, but this was
like Halloween in the United States. After a float went by, its sponsors
throwing handfuls of hard candy, suckers, or gum at the kids lining the street,
it was a free-for-all while the children scrambled around in the street to pick
up as much candy as they could. Sometimes, treats were tossed for adults, too.
I watched as one child caught a brand new dashboard protector for a car, eyed
it quizzically, and handed it off on the nearest adult! (I could tell I was in
a small town when, instead of keeping it, that adult handed it back to the
child and told her to run over and give it to her parents.) T-shirts were
launched into the crowd out of blow guns. All told, the town had a great time
at its summer party, and we enjoyed watching the festivities.
By now, those of you who follow our blog regularly have
figured out that we were on the fast track through British Columbia. We hadn’t
stayed more than one night anywhere since leaving Prince Rupert, but we spent
the weekend at Port McNeill. We hadn’t done any real boat maintenance since
leaving Sitka and some tasks were due. We were also hoping the foggy weather
pattern we’d been experiencing over the last several days would break up.
When we left Port McNeill, it was overcast, and we did enter
a fog bank as we re-crossed Queen Charlotte Strait; however, the fog was short
|Mother and chick: I'm not sure what species these were|
We anchored in Shoal Harbour our first night in the Broughtons, a former
logging area with some cabins still scattered around it. The next day, we saw
another sign of home as we passed a piece of the old 520 floating bridge that
had been brought up from Washington to build the breakwater at Echo Bay. The
breakwater also houses the store and fuel dock.
|First Nation Longhouse|
Bypassing Echo Bay, we stopped
for the night in Kwatsi Bay, a family run operation with dock space, showers,
and local crafts for sale. The hosts, Max and Anca (who hails from Holland),
cultivate a family feeling by hosting potlucks at the dock several nights a
week. Boaters seem to return year after year and many of them know each other.
Patrick has been there several times before, and it is a place I would happily
|A piece of home in Echo Bay|
|Colorful rock wall at the entrance to Kwatsi Bay|
|A heron stalks the dock looking for prey in Kwatsi Bay|
Leaving Kwatsi Bay the next morning, we were joined by a
school of Pacific white-sided dolphins. They stayed with us for a good 45
minutes, bow riding, leaping out of the water, and even swimming upside down
before the boat! I was standing on the bow taking pictures, and after a while,
some of the dolphin seemed to become curious about what I was doing, as they
rolled over on their side and looked at me looking at them.
|A Pacific white-sided dolphin coming to join the boat|
|These two dolphin appear to be a mother and calf|
|A mother and calf ride the bow together, as seen through the water|
|I don't know who is more curious|
We traveled the narrow Chatham Channel to Knight Inlet. You never know what you might see in channels along the
Inside Passage either. You might see floathouses collapsing:
You might find a used car.
|Cars for sale|
Or a new house:
You might see a pretty view.
We followed Knight Inlet back out into Johnstone Strait
where, sadly, we did not come across any orca. (We were already below the part
of the strait most frequented by the orca.) Although the usual high wind
warning was forecast for Johnstone Strait, we passed Port Neville in good
conditions and turned off the strait to anchor for the night in Forward Harbour.
Somewhere between Kwatsi Bay and Forward Harbour, the sun came out again,
pretty much to stay. Ahh! Summer at last!
|Vista on the way to Forward Harbour|
From Forward Harbour, we had to go through a series of
rapids while traveling through the rest of the Broughton Islands. This involved
the careful timing of our departure for the next two days in order to enter the
rapids at a favorable stage of the tide.We left late the next morning in order to catch the last of
the ebb through Whirpool Rapids. We were hoping to get a little help from the
current in our direction.
|The rapids look so benign near slack water...|
|....but when does Silhouette ever do nine knots in glassy conditions?|
This was followed by going through Greene Point Rapids at
slack water. After completing both sets of rapids without experiencing more
than a bit of current, we had a leisurely trip into Shoal Bay.
|Lovely scenery along Whirlpool Rapids|
We saw some picturesque fishing lodges along the way.
We also began to see more clear cuts throughout this part of
the waterway. While the individual clear cuts in British Columbia seem to cover
less area than in the past, and the logging industry seems to be leaving a
buffer zone of timber along the shoreline---which probably catches some of the
silt running off the clear cuts---they are still the major method of harvesting
|Sweet spot along the channel|
|A clear cut adjoining new growth from a previous clear cut and mature second growth|
|We saw this interesting clear cut|
|Patchwork left by clear cuts|
|One of the larger clear cuts |
Just before arriving at Shoal Bay, we began to see tantalizing tall
peaks in the distance.
|Peak outside Shoal Bay|
The wharfinger at the public marina at Shoal Bay also owns property
at the head of the bay, where he and his partner run a pub and an organic
garden. It is a popular stop for boats waiting to transit the rapids on either
side of the bay.
|Rock wall approaching Shoal Bay|
|Anchorage and public dock at Shoal Bay as seen from the pub|
In Shoal Bay, I began to see familiar forest understory,
sword ferns and salal, reminding me that our march towards home was bringing us
The next morning brought a series of three rapids in quick
succession: Dent, Gillard, and Yuculta
Rapids. Of these, Dent Rapids seemed to have the most current, but that’s
probably because it’s the first one we came to as we approached slack water.
The Broughtons empty into Desolation Sound, a high use and
very crowded area in mid-August. We only stayed in one anchorage there, Squirrel
Cove, before moving on.
From this point out, we began entering more and more crowded
areas with more and more boating traffic. It began to prepare us
psychologically for returning to the huge metropolitan area that is Seattle and
for crossing the shipping lanes in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. .
|Peaks in morning haze, Desolation Sound|
From Squirrel Cove, we visited Pender Harbour. The entrance
into Pender Harbour requires you to be very alert due to heavy vessel traffic
and the many crab pots lining the channel. The houses in the area blend nicely
into the sparsely wooded rocky cliffs and islets. Once through the channel, you
see that Pender Harbour is actually a series of harbors, with many interesting
nooks and crannies. It made this large harbor feel smaller and less crowded
than the next two anchorages we visited.
|I knew I was close to home when I saw my first madrone tree|
|Houses on the approach to Pender Harbour|
From Pender Harbour, it is possible to make the miles to
Ganges in just one day, but we left later in the morning and just went as far
as Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. We had to cross the Strait of Georgia, and this
was one of the few times during our trip through British Columbia when we had
enough wind to sail. The entry channel into Nanaimo Harbour is narrow, shallow,
and clogged with vessels, and the anchorage was equally challenging. Along with
sailboats and motor craft, there were many smaller vessels such as kayaks,
canoes, and even windsurfers threading their way through the mooring field. We
arrived late in the day, and there was a steady stream of traffic between the
entrance channel and the edge of the anchorage that we had to get across before
we could anchor.
|Entering Pender Harbour|
Both Pender Harbour and Nanaimo are considered part of “the
Sunshine Coast,” and it was living up to its name. While many marinas have the
equivalent of a “Dinghy Dock Pub,” Nanaimo’s is the only one we’ve been to that
is actually located on a floating dock. We enjoyed a couple of beers there
before returning to the boat for a Mexican dinner. That night, we enjoyed a
free blues concert in the cockpit, which resounded across the water to the anchorage
from a venue in downtown Nanaimo.
|Part of the anchorage and mooring field in Nanaimo Harbour|
The next day, we (and several dozen other boats) had the
hook up early to catch slack water at Dodd Narrows. As we approached Dodd
Narrows and I looked behind us, the steady stream of boats exiting Nanaimo
reminded me of commuter traffic at rush hour. We passed through an industrial
part of Nanaimo en route to the narrows, and I realized it is a big lumber
|Wood chip barge being filled|
|Watering down logs to keep them from heating up too much|
Although short, Dodd Narrows is the narrowest narrows we’ve
been through yet. We were lucky that morning all the boats went through in
single file and we weren’t slammed by any wakes. As we exited the narrows, we saw
two tugs with log tows waiting to enter Dodd Narrows from the south! One of
them would clearly fill the entire narrows, and a short time later, we heard
its Securite call.
|Boats heading single-file southbound through Dodd Narrows|
We anchored that night in Ganges on Saltspring Island in the
Gulf Islands. I had heard about Ganges from many boaters, but somehow, I
pictured it to be smaller and quieter than it was. Ganges was so full of summer
boaters, that we could barely find room to anchor. It had several marinas, all
of which appeared to be packed full of boats. There were also a lot of occupied
mooring buoys in the bay. I searched in vain for Patrick’s old trimaran, Bacchanal, which had been left on a
mooring in Ganges the last time we’d heard from his new owner three years ago.
The Waggoner Cruising
Guide cites Ganges as a “foodie haven,” so naturally we had to sample the
fare. There are two restaurants in Ganges with their own organic gardens that
grow produce for their menu, the Hastings House and the Harbour House. We
didn’t visit either of these this time, but wandering around town came across
the bustling Tree House Café. I have to write a plug for this restaurant
because the food was some of the most creative and delicious of our entire
voyage, and it was reasonably priced. The Tree House also had excellent live
music for the cost of a donation. It is an open-air restaurant, and all of the
seating is basically outdoors; however, no alcohol is served at the tables in
front of the café. We really enjoyed our evening out.
Ironically, sitting next to us at the Tree House, was Mark Bunzel (the publisher of Waggoner Cruising Guide) and his daughter. Patrick
recognized him but I didn’t. We got to talking to each other over dinner (the
seating is very close), and Mark started asking us about our boat. When he heard
it was a Cabo Rico, he asked if we had gotten it in San Francisco. (Most Cabo Ricos are from the east coast.) It turned
out that Mark had actually sailed on Silhouette
with two of its former owners. He had even flown parts and supplies to Silhouette in Mazatlan on his small plane!
When we returned to the boat that evening, a glorious
sunset was coloring the sky. It was a perfect way to end the day in our last
|Sunset over the anchorage in Ganges|