Galiander Travels - 2002
© 2002 by John and Eleanor Coulthard
Permission to copy for non-commercial purposes is granted provided the source is acknowledged
The following contains a summary of our cruising during the summer of 2002. The highlighted text represents links to pictures. Use the “back” key on your browser to return to this page.
The Fraser River
This year’s cruising was complicated by the birth of our first grandchild Michaela Louise Poetker, born on May 31st, 2002. Eleanor wanted to be close by so she could help out. We decided to take the boat over to the mainland and use it as a temporary apartment.
The baby was due about June 7th. We arranged our annual haul out at Granville Island in Vancouver on Friday, May 24th. We don’t normally go to Vancouver for our annual maintenance. Canoe Cove on Vancouver Island is much closer and can be reached in about 4 hours under almost any weather conditions. Going to Granville Island, on the other hand, involves an 8-hour crossing of the Strait of Georgia, which occasionally can be quite uncomfortable. But we had motivation! Last year at the Catalina Rendevous we won a free hull cut polish and wax job if we let a company on Granville Island paint the bottom at their regular price. Normally we paint the bottom ourselves but Eleanor has had enough of that messy business and jumped at this excuse to have someone else do the work. The weather was favourable and we made a nice trip out of it, cruising up the Gulf Islands to Degnan Bay on Gabriola Island to visit relatives there and then making a much more direct crossing from there in about 6 hours.
The company did a great job. We hauled out on Friday morning and were back in the water on Saturday afternoon. The hull looked marvelous. Now all we had to do was go around and up the Fraser River to Ladner where a friend had generously agreed to loan us his slip while he was up on the hard for three weeks doing repairs.
This was a trip into completely new territory. The Fraser River is at full flood at this time of the year and the currents are easily enough to overcome Galiander during a neutral or falling tide. It is about 5 hours from Granville Island to the mouth of the Fraser River. We entered the river 2 hours after low tide. Initially our speed over the ground was only 2 knots, but gradually the rising tide took effect and at times the current in the river actually reversed itself a small amount.
On the way up we had a chance to admire the variety of boat traffic on this major waterway. Boats large and small went by, including a commercial transport truck carrier and a gigantic car freighter.
Living on the River was a new experience for us. We were an easy 20 minute walk down the river side to Ladner and all it’s shops and attractions. On the way we passed a fascinating assortment of private and public docks, a fish processing plant, a marine store and several restaurants.
We were apprehensive about our trip back to Galiano because the mouth of the Fraser River has a bad reputation when the wind opposes the current. A small craft warning had been posted. But the predicted winds failed to materialize and again we had to power most of the way across the Strait of Georgia. We were back home again on June 21st. We had been away for about a month.
Eleanor’s Uncle Ches has a good line, “If we stay any longer I am afraid the boat will become glued to the dock”. Distracted by renovation projects, house sitting in the Okanagan, family re-unions, a new grandchild, lovely weather and excellent swimming it seemed we might never leave.
Wednesday evening, July 24th we shuffled a few boats around, unglued Galiander from the dock and with our good friend Mary aboard as guest putted a short distance through Active Pass and around to one of the most popular anchorages in BC, Montague Harbour. There are good reasons for Montague’s excellent reputation. The harbour is large and very well protected. The holding is excellent and at a good depth. There is a marina and a Class A Provincial Park. We slept soundly under calm conditions.
Thursday morning we headed for one of our favourite haunts, Princess Cove on Wallace Island, part way up Trincomali Channel. Wallace Island is almost entirely a park and is exceedingly beautiful. Normally this anchorage is very crowded so we came early. Strangely it was not crowded but we soon found out why. The strong south wind was making it very difficult to place a stern line ashore in this small cove. Finally after about 1 hour of flailing around we gave up on the stern line and swung on the hook. As the afternoon progressed about 8 other boats came in and attempted to stern anchor. Only three were partially successful. They settled for a stern line that simply reduced the amount of swing they had on the traditional anchor.
Friday we we got an early start for the Port of Naniamo, an excellent place to reprovision and an easy place for Mary to catch a bus home. We had to pass through Dodd’s Narrows at slack water, about 12 noon. We passed through about 10 minutes late under dead calm conditions.
The approach to the Port of Naniamo is down the industrial Northcumberland Channel. The wind was directly against us at about 15 knots and the seas were “troubled” and uncomfortable. Much to our surprise we were probably the last boat of our size to fit into the docks. We soon found out why. This was the Bathtub Race weekend and the City of Naniamo was in a festive mood. Some of the downtown streets were blocked off and filled with street vendors. There were excellent fireworks on Saturday night.
We had a somewhat chaotic departure from the Port of Naniamo on Sunday. The long narrow docks make it necessary to back up between the fingers to the outer channel – which is also narrow. As we neared the end of the finger a cross wind developed which started to swing the bow around. Then a power boat came down the channel and cut us off. I had to stop our backward motion to avoid a collision. There we were, drifting sideways down a narrow channel with no room to power forward or back to regain our steerage. Fortunately a kind boater at the end of the next dock grabbed our bow and held on until the stern had swung around and we could power up the channel. No harm done but we could have been in a very difficult situation if not for that timely assistance.
Sunday was the start of the Bathtub Race, featuring 40 to 70 small powered boats modeled around bathtubs. They roar North up the coast of Vancouver Island and back in about a two hour race. We sailed slowly out of the harbour on the jib passing time and trying to get to a good location to watch the start of the race. Slowly the wind increased to 15 knots and the seas became lumpy and uncomfortable. The little racing bathtubs are quite fast and were skipping along from wave top to wave top. It looked very uncomfortable for the contestants.
As they disappeared towards the first mark we thankfully unfurled the jib and started a leisurely sail downwind towards Dodds Narrows. As we proceeded into the lee of Gabriola Island the wind slowly died. We dallied in front of Dodd’s Narrows about an hour ahead of slack water and watched the other boats start to head through going with the current. It didn’t look very difficult so about 50 minutes ahead of slack we passed through with the rest and enjoyed about a 4 knot assist from the current as we passed through into the Gulf Islands.
Shortly thereafter the wind completely reversed and hit us on the nose so we turned on the “Iron Genoa” and powered the short distance to what we call “Twyver Cove”, a small anchorage in front of our friend’s house. This anchorage is completely exposed to the South East but no winds were in the forecast from that direction and we enjoyed a fine visit with the Twyver’s and slept soundly under dead calm conditions.
Monday morning we sailed slowly back up the coast to Boat Harbour, a somewhat more protected anchorage, and spend the afternoon visiting our old friend Joan who lives about a 20 minute dingy ride away.
A late start and leisurely sail brought us to Ruxton Island and we then powered to Degnan Bay along the shore of Valdes Island checking out Coal Miners Bay and the log booms on the way. The entire shore of Valdes in that area is lined with log booms, including most of Coal Miners Bay. Coal Miners Bay does not look like a good place to access Valdes unless it is from a dinghy. We wanted to visit our relatives on Degnan Bay, Gabriola Island and also visit the new Provincial Park that had been created near by. We arrived Degnan about 2pm, left a note on the Maddison’s door and were at Wakes Cove, the new home of the Wakes Cove Provincial Park by 3pm. The setting on Gabriola Passage is magnificent. We walked around the point to the east side of Valdes and continued south on old logging roads heading inland when we came to a fence. Finally, a little weary, we arrived back in Wakes Cove, and being careful not to get sucked into Gabriola Passage made our way back to the Maddisons. We greatly enjoyed their company that evening.
Today we got another leisurely start and lazily sailed and powered to Wallace Island to be treated to a magnificent afternoon under clear skies. We kayaked, enjoyed a barbecue and relaxed. We finished off our tour by visiting Port Browning Harbour on Pender Island, enjoying an Oyster Burger and exploring the nearby Beaumount Marine Park in nearby Bedwell Harbour. We promised to return to this lovely marine park later in the summer to explore it further.
The long weekends tend to be hectic in the Gulf Islands. Even the commodious Montague Harbour can get overcrowded, so we decided to return home. Our home port, Whaler Bay, is not well known to most boaters and provides a wonderful secluded harbour during busy periods.
Then we headed back to Bedwell Harbour to explore Beaumont Marine Park. This summer the weather pattern has been dominated by a large high pressure area just off the coast of Vancouver Island. This has resulted in a dry summer, and also strong North West winds. Bedwell Harbour, is protected from North West winds by high hills and Mt. Norman but the wind was still sneaking through the passes and hitting the harbour in gusts. The mooring buoys near the shore were all taken so we anchored well out in the clear away from other boats. But as the day progressed more boats arrived and some chose to anchor quite close to us so we spent an uncomfortable night in the wind. But it passed uneventfully and in the morning the wind died. Sure enough, as soon as the boats started to drift around in the subtle currents the one next to us bumped into us. It was a gentle hint. We decided to raise anchor and take a mooring buoy close to shore as soon as one came free.
Secure on a mooring buoy tucked in close to Mt. Norman we decided to spend a day hiking to the top of Mt. Norman(check out the view!). This is a strenuous 1 and a half hour hike but definitely recommended if you are fit enough to try it.
After a brief respite the wind started to blow again. This was getting a little tiresome, even on a mooring buoy so we decided to move closer to Vancouver Island, and explore new territory. We selected Genoa Bay on Vancouver Island which, coincidentally, boasts a restaurant with a very good reputation. The move was a good one. After an exciting sail through winds that were gusting well into the 20’s we dropped the hook in this very lovely harbour. After a leisurely meal with new friends we spent a quiet night and decided to move on to an old favourite, Ganges Harbour on Saltspring Island. The docks at Ganges are close to all sorts of amenities and we wanted to visit old friends we had not seen in a long time.
Rafting is mandatory on the public docks at Ganges Harbour. We stayed at the Centennial Wharf, which is secluded behind a secure breakwater and isolated from the frequent float plane service and numerous power boats that traverse the main harbour. Here is Galiander, rafted third out from the dock. The atmosphere is very relaxed with a fascinating mix of modern boats, character boats and people working on their yachts.
We have been living with our niece Jude for the summer. She has been working for BC Ferries this summer and was an enjoyable presence. After all these years she had still never had a chance to go for a cruise on Galiander. She joined us for a small idyllic trip to Ganges Harbour where she was scheduled to visit a friend.
The Gulf Islands were at their best. We powered a short distance in calm conditions to the beautiful Cabbage and Tumbo Islands. These two pristine gems are public parks and remind some people of the Caribbean. Their only drawback is that the anchorage is completely exposed to the North so you have to watch your weather conditions. We enjoyed a wonderful sunset and hiking on both islands. The next morning we headed around the south tip of Saturna Island and headed north towards Saltspring Island with a light breeze filling the Jennicker. We only intended to stay in Ganges Harbour for one night after dropping off Jude but life was so good and relaxed we stayed two. We stopped at James Bay on the way home. Another park of course. Eleanor picked a lovely bunch of apples and made them into apple sauce in the boat. Finally we picked up friends on the way through Active Pass and enjoyed a birthday celebration with old work mates back on Galiano.