Galiander Travels – 2003
This year we left earlier, stayed longer and went further. We keep touch with our family primarily using email and normally our trip journal is derived from email reports home. In the past we have done this using a combination of a venerable old analog cellphone (A classic 1997 Motorola FlipPhone) and HAM radio Airmail. Our old Flipphone finally died and we replaced it with a tiny little Samsui digital FlipPhone with loads more features and the capability of sustaining a 14.4 Kb data connection over many areas of our trip. At 14.4 Kb it is reasonable to send pictures home and our family seemed to love it - "send more pictures" they said.
We were gone from June 5 to August 9th this year. During June we were mainly in the southern part of the Strait of Georgia, spending a lot of time in Howe Sound, which is so busy in July and August that we have tended to avoid it in the past. In early July we headed north of Desolation Sound into what is new territory for us, Johnstone Strait and the Knight Inlet area.
The book of the voyage is “Sailing Home” by Gary Geddes. Gary is 59 and is cruising a 31 foot sail boat up the coast of British Columbia - “discovering his roots”. Eleanor and I are finding it a very pleasant and thought provoking read. The descriptions of places we are visiting are wonderful to read. Gary is struggling with the aging process. I, also, find it hard not to get introspective as I struggle with the aging process. Writing things down is a way of dealing with life, somehow making it more relevant. We have an “Advance reading copy”, copyright 2000. Recommended!
Whaler Bay to Howe Sound
June 9, 2003:
Howe Sound to Desolation Sound
I was pleasantly surprised by the Union Steamship Marina in Snug Cove on Bowen Island. It has a real nice feel to it. With only a short distance to go to a nice selection of restaurants and wonderful hikes, it makes a nice day trip destination for Vancouver area boaters. Peggy, on Silver Wings, who had her boat hauled at the same time as Galiander a year ago, came in and took a temporary berth for a few hours so they could have lunch before sailing back to False Creek.
The Marina was inundated by boats for the annual "Around Bowen Race" on Saturday. On the other side of the slip from Galiander over a hundred boats of all sizes converged and rafted up. We watched about 150 boats starting at the same time. Our children and grandchild came down in the afternoon, to help celebrate father's day a day early. Eleanor spent the previous day cooking up a storm and we had a great afternoon stuffing ourselves, drinking, and watching the race boats return. Yes sir, being close to the city has its perks.
Eleanor's brother Johnny and new friend Marcia joined us for a few days. We had a very leisurely, civilized tour of Howe Sound with them. Sleeping in every day. Lazy starts. Some nice sailing. Some good walking in Provincial Parks. Great meals. Wednesday brought us around to Gibsons Landing, another new stop for us. And it was another pleasant surprise. We had lunch at Grandma's Pub and supper at Molly's Reach, the home for the Beachcombers TV show many years ago.
We were sorry to see Johnny and Marcia dash off to catch the Ferry on Thursday morning but we were also getting itchy to move on. Of course the North West winds they did keep on blowing and blowing so we took the remainder of the day as a rest day. Rest day for Eleanor means doing laundry and painting watercolours in the cockpit of the boat. Rest day for me means doing a few boat chores, dozing in the cockpit and playing with my computer and the HAM radio.
We are keen enough to go that we decide to power up the coast into the winds. The winds do seem to moderate in the afternoon so on Friday we headed out about noon for Smugglers Cove about 20 nautical miles up the Sunshine Coast, the first reasonable anchorage along that stretch of coast. Powering into a 10 knot wind is not a delightful way to spend the day but the anchorage is nice. Unfortunately we had to try 4 times before we were happy with our anchor and stern tie, so went to bed very tired but we were now close to new territory - Agamemnon Channel and the Harmony Islands.
A short power trip brought us to Agamemnon Channel where we picked up a light following breeze and proceeded into a green canyon in almost complete solitude. The silence and feeling of warmth was welcome, even though we were not making very good time. We decided to stay in Green Bay about half way down the channel.
Sunday a long (because there was not much wind) lovely gentle sail brought us to the Harmony Islands. A spectacular waterfall cascades down from Friel Lake just a short distance away. Oysters are everywhere – so we feast. Then we stay a day to explore, fish and picnic down by the waterfall.
The pace is nice now. Short days, good weather and nice anchorages. By Friday we are back in the Strait of Georgia. We got up at 6am for the run to Lund, near the entrance to Desolation Sound. Lund is a great place to replenish supplies and eat out. We hoped to get under way before the prevailing North West winds picked up. Our planning was perfect. We left at 6am and powered past Grief Point at 9am under dead calm conditions. By noon we were tied up at the Lund Hotel dock.
I like Lund. It is a very small place - the end of Highway 101. It consists mostly of a Government Dock and the Lund Hotel. The Lund Hotel has a gas dock, laundromat, grocery store, liquor outlet and other essentials required by boaters so it is a popular stopping place. The Hotel sports a surprisingly nice restaurant.
An hour away the popular Copelands Marine Park rests waiting. In previous years we always powered past looking at its crowded anchorages and saying “we must come back some time”. This time the anchorages were almost empty and we stopped to stay a day and explore. It is right next to “the mainland”, separated by Thulin Passage which conveys streams of pleasure and commercial craft to and from the Desolation Sound area. We explored ashore and discovered, yet again, what must be a “boating truth”, people on boats don't seem to like hiking around on shore. There were only the most rudimentary of trails – even the trail to the Park toilet was not particularly well used. We bushwhacked around for about an hour and returned. The area looks like a kayakers paradise.
Another day brought us to Roscoe Bay, which has easy access to a beautiful, warm fresh water lake called Black Lake – so called I suspect by the dark colour of the water (perhaps due to the bottom colour? - the water seems extremely clear). The entrance to Roscoe Bay dries completely at a zero tide so it can be entered only during mid to high tide conditions. Right now that means that no boats are entering or leaving between approximately 8am and 3pm. It seems to give a friendly feeling to the harbour.
Prideaux Haven was a pleasant surprise. Less than a dozen boats in the anchorage and for the first time I was able to plant the hook in the middle of the harbour and swing, enjoying the magnificent view of the snowcapped mountains to the North.
Our idyllic stay was marred by a low battery when we started the engine in the morning. So we decided to go to Heriot Bay and get a new starting battery.
The following from the book "Coming Home", by Gary Geddes. A story related to the author by a "character" he met.
".... Did I ever tell you about the old Indian. When I was nineteen in Alaska, I went into the post office. Everyone in the line was complaining. The butcher complained about the quality of the meat they were shipping him. The minister complained about the alcoholism among the youth. The mechanic complained about the unavailability of parts. Since this seemed to be a national pastime, I thought I'd play it safe by complaining about the weather. The old Indian in line behind me, who'd said nothing so far, suddenly tapped me on the shoulder.
'You have woman?' No, I admitted rather sheepishly in front of the assembled audience. The old Indian made a harrumph noise deep in his throat.
'You have boat?' No, I confessed even more reluctantly. I did not have a boat either, but I did hope to own one someday. In fact, I was already thinking of designing and building my own boat. There was another guttural harrumph.
'No boat, no woman. Nothing to complain about.' ..."
We have resolved, somewhat, our starting battery problem. A new battery, supposedly fully charged, performed little better than the old so I spent a day checking and cleaning connections, testing switches, to no avail. After a good overnight charge it performed much more satisfactorily, good enough - although not as well as I would have liked. I suspect it was not fully charged as stated. I also suspect the problem was a combination of declining battery condition and deteriorating cables (Unfortunately the starting battery has a long cable run). I feel confident we can carry on and will be cautious about our electrical use, making sure the starting battery remains fully charged at all times. I will revisit the deteriorating cable issue as a winter project.
Our time was running out to meet Sumitra for the trip North so we headed out to Von Donnop Inlet to meet them. But again our plans changed. When we got into cellphone range we got a message from Guy and Pat aboard Earth Sea, who were hoping to meet us in the Octopus Islands on their trip down. We ended up going to Von Donop Inlet for our rendezvous with Sumitra and then the next day went to Surge Narrows south of the Octopus Islands for a wonderful rendezvous with Earth Sea. We didn't even lose any time as we were able to take a short cut through Whiterock passage to re-connect with Sumitra on her way to Yuculta.
This was only our second time through the Yuculta Rapids but it felt very comfortable. We started a half hour or so before slack water and powered into the current, working the back eddies. ( For a good description of the best way to approach the Yuculta rapids see the book “Desolation Sound”, by Bill Wolverstan.) We powered through Yuculta just about slack water and then rode the current down through Dent Rapids and onward to Bickley Bay, a nice anchorage on Cordero Channel.
was Eleanor's birthday and what a delightful present she got from
Tara on Sumitra. Tara being a massage therapist gave her an relaxing
open air massage on the forepeak of their
boa t as the sun set and the birds sang.
Johnstone Strait represents a problem for boats like ours. In a nutshell it can be just plain awful out there, especially if the wind is going against the current. Fortunately we can avoid most of Johnstone Strait by staying to the east on a series of channels (Cordero and Chancellor...) up to Havannah Passage. There, we are unavoidably forced into passaging a 20 mile section of Johnstone Strait.
We need to traverse two rapids on the way from Bickley Bay to Forward Harbour near the entrance to Johnstone Strait. Handling these two is not difficult but it is important to time the passage so one is assisted by the current. A uneventful day, powering into a 10 knot wind brought us to Forward Harbour. We are glad we were not in Johnstone Strait. It is rough out there! And it is not warm – check the gloves and head gear in this picture.
Forward Harbour is the place to wait for the right conditions before entering Johnstone Strait. It was quite crowded as the strait had been very rough for quite a few days. But the weather gods smiled on us. The next day a weather front came through and the winds died. Everybody left the anchorage that morning. When we entered Johnstone Strait it was like a millpond and our 20km passage was completely uneventful.
Early afternoon we left Johnstone Strait and dropped hook in Port Harvey, feeling very satisfied with our progress. We collected a bucket of clams and Eleanor made up a delicious chowder. As well she discovered gooseberries and made up a gooseberry pie which we shared with Tim and Tara.After two pleasant nights there we moved out and headed to the historically famous Minstrel Island via Chatham Cnannel. After breakfast there we continued on to Lagoon Cove, which was very busy. We had a quick explore then moved to nearby, empty, Cutters Cove for the night.
Exploring Knight Inlet, Alert Bay and area.
We are finally here after all these years of dreaming and scheming. Everything is new and there is so much to see, far more than can be accommodated in one sailing season. First we explored Tribune Channel, then Simoom Sound for two nights. The weather was indifferent – typically cloudy with sunny breaks and occasionally some notable rain.
Simmoom Sound is a wild uninhabited area, yet human intrusion is seen everywhere in the form of fish farms and extensive signs of logging. All the hills seemed to be in some state of recovery from clear cutting. Some sections were raw and some had what looked like 20 year old trees on them. There are few trails and those that exist tend to be extremely rough. All in all very pretty and definitely very quiet. Lots of bird sounds to be heard.
Fishing and sightseeing from a dinghy seems to be the most popular pass time. There are several big resorts that cater to the boating crowd who like the dock scene. Fishing has not been good. So far Eleanor has caught nothing and the reports from other fishermen are not encouraging. Finally Eleanor lands a big dog fish which she chops up for crab bait.
It has been raining a lot. July 14th dawned with the sun peeking through the clouds and highlighting the clear cuts. Bird sounds are everywhere. We headed to Echo Bay to do laundry and re provision. Bought a melon for $9.00 and paid $1.00 per pound to get rid of our garbage.
The water at the resorts is all gathered from local streams, not wells, and tends to be quite brown, a colour leached from all the needles on the forest floor. We filled our aft tank with brown water at Minstrel Island, which had a boil water advisory. We treated ours with bleach and tended only to use it to wash dishes. We took drinking water from our forward tank. Echo Bay had treated brown water – but their water was even browner than the Minstrel Island water. Apparently all the water out at the remote resorts is brown. We are told the water at Alert Bay, the nearest large town, is excellent.
At 34 feet we are a small boat in this area. In fact we were the smallest boat at Echo Bay which was about half full with 4 sail boats and 8 power boats. Across from us is a deserted resort of some kind. The number of boats traveling north is definitely down this year. The estimates from the locals range between 20% and 50%.
Billy Proctor's museum was a special attraction for us. As part of our preparation for this trip we read about him in “The Heart pf the Rain Forest”. It was with great pleasure that we got to meet and chat to Billy himself. He has recently published "Full Moon Flood Tide" which we can highly recommend you purchase and take with you when you visit this area.
A short trip brought us to the very protected Waddington Bay for two nights. In the morning the fog would be quite thick. As the day progressed the fog would lift and we would be presented with several hours of gorgeous sunshine.
I. used our dog fish for crabbing and caught the biggest crab I have ever caught in my life. It is rainy about half the time and there is not much wind. May explain the preponderance of power boats over sailboats..
Our next visit was a short trip across the mouth of Knight Inlet to Village Island, the site of an old native settlement, named Mamalililaculla(?) where we were mesmerized by Tom Seeward(?) dramatizing the history of this area. Fascinating stuff.
Then to Pierres Bay on Friday (July 18) for two days of “dock time”, eating out and smoozing with artists and craftsmen. The advertised pork roast was crowded and wet. Rained all day Saturday. Happily while there, Eleanor met a fine watercolourist, Yvonne Maximchuk, co author and illustrator of "Full Moon Flood Tide"
Sunday we cruised into Shoal Harbour. We dinghied around to the Yvonne's place to see her watercolours and have her critique some of Eleanor's work. Shoal Harbour is a busy little place. Homes on shore and float homes with little boats buzzing back and forth. Nobody seems to slow down for anything. The wakes rock Galiander on a regular basis.
There are gen-sets everywhere, on boats, at marinas, on float homes... Everyone has their own separate system even when they appear to be close enough to their neighbours to share one. The noise tends to be pervasive and fades in and out of the background noise. A lot of houses have battery systems as well, which they recharge.
It is hard to get exercise up here. There are very few walking or hiking trails. The water is too cold for swimming. We can kayak and do stationary exercises on the boat. That is about it.
Stuff grows like crazy in the summer up here. People don't even seem to try to maintain trails, not even to their next door neighbor – they take the runabout boat. Lots of docks, many of them ramshackle and half afloat.
We left Shoal Harbour on Monday morning as the early fog started to lift. But this time, as we entered the Fox Group, the fog started to thicken up again and shortly we were completely fogged in and totally dependent on our Radar, GPS and Navigation software.
From Eleanor's log:
"Today we experienced our first foggy passage! It was a bit scary having to rely solely on radar and the computer navigation software. Thank heavens it all kept working! It was especially thick around the Fox Group but seemed to be clearing so we decided to continue. Then we lost all visibility entering Spring Passage – slowed down to 2 knots and blew on the conch horn every three minutes. Waves rolled under us and we spotted two power boats on the radar. We took heart, increased speed, and got around Henrietta Island. Crossed Knight Inlet expecting to stop at Village Island again, but the fog lifted and we carried on to our destination for the day, Crease Island behind Goat Islets. Lots of room, good depth. Seven other boats were waiting out the weather, warm and windy."
Our visits to Village Island and talk by Tom Seeward(?) convinced us we should go to Alert Bay and soak up some more native culture. Tuesday we had an easy run to Alert Bay where we spent 3 nights, dining out, hiking and visiting the local attractions. Alert Bay is located on Cormorant Island which is a short ferry ride from Port McNeil near the North end of Vancouver Island. We loved Cormorant Island. The Island has a well developed network of trails. We visited the U'mista Cultural Centre, checked out the world's tallest totem pole and enjoyed some native dancing. The government dock is in good shape and staffed by friendly competent people. The water at the dock was wonderful and endless. We purged our aft water tank of the brown water, topped everything up and washed the boat down. The town library has free Internet access. Everyone is pleasant and friendly. Absolutely excellent – we will return.
We can receive the CBC from Vancouver every day and are well aware of how much nicer the weather has been back down south, so we are ready to return to Desolation Sound for some warmer weather.
Alert Bay to Home
Our return trip went very well. We waited a day for the right conditions, then on Friday, July 25th, we took a long day and powered all the way to Forward Harbour. We were accompanied by “buddy boat” Morar II with Darrell on board and later, Waterford with Graham and Elsie on board. Another easy day brought us to Fredrick Arm just before the Yuculta Rapids where we had an excellent meal at Oleo's Gallery. An easy run through the rapids on Sunday the 27th brought us back to Desolation Sound. We proceeded directly to the Octopus Islands to enjoy some great hiking and freshwater swimming.
On August 1 we said a sad goodbye to Desolation Sound and powered around to Campbell River to visit our future in laws. They entertained us royally with dinners in the garden and tennis challenges. Michael and his fiancee, Christy, were there to entertain us too.
By Aug 5th we were in Deep Bay on Vancouver Island just to the west of the south end of Denman Island. This was a new port of call for us and also the home port for Sumitra and Morar II, our "buddy boats" this summer. We really enjoyed the activity of a “working dock” and met Darrell from Morar II again and his wife Diane. A front came through generating South East winds so there we took a rest day. (Good thing too!! - lots of white caps out there).
An early start and long day brought us to the Port of Nanaimo, quite literally "home waters" for us as we are only a day's travel from home anywhere in this area. By Saturday, August 8th we were in Degnan Bay on Garbriola Island visiting our relatives, the Maddisons, and enjoying the annual Gabriola Salmon BBQ (yum). The weather is becoming more cloudy.
conclusion, our summer sail was an an interesting three months tour of
an area we hope to visit again more extensively. The places and
people are fascinating. Now its time to go home and start harvesting
to the table of contents for the Galiano Journals
to John and Eleanor Coulthard's home page.