Galiander Travels - 2001


Copyright © 2000 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 in May and June and copies of our email journals for our trip up to Desolation Sound during the summer of 2001.



May and June

Southern Gulf Islands


Our cruising plan this year is to take advantage of nice weather windows in May and June to explore waters close to our home port, Whaler Bay on Galiano Island. The first two weeks in July are filled with family commitments. Shortly after July 15th we expect to head north, further north then we went last summer, hopefully to Port McNeil near the north end of Vancouver Island.


Our sailing season began on May 2nd with a short two day weather window that took us to the public dock on nearby Saltspring Island to visit friends we had not seen in a long time. The Government Dock was busy and fascinating as only a “working dock” can be. While the other Marinas in Ganges looked empty and forlorn during this off season period the public dock was busy. Rafting is mandatory and even on May 2nd we had to raft out on a rugged looking 42 foot sailboat. Around us people were busy getting pleasure boats and commercial fishing rigs ready for summer. The Saltspring Market was interesting to visit and we had a wonderful meal out with our friends.


May 3rd saw us scurrying for home with the posting of a Gale Warning for local waters. We drifted placidly into the Whaler Bay dock just as the rain started to fall.


Our second opportunity took us to the Cabbage Island marine park on May 11th. Cabbage and Tumbo islands are on the east side of Saturna Island right in the Strait of Georgia and are quite exposed during adverse weather conditions. We had a perfect, although short, weather window and had a nice sail down, picking up a mooring buoy in the otherwise empty anchorage. It is a gorgeous area that has been described as reminding sailors of the Caribbean (we can’t confirm that as we have never been to the Caribbean but it is sure pretty). Tumbo Island is slated to become part of the South Gulf Islands National Park. The area teems with sea life. We kayaked, hiked and feasted on Oysters and Crab. We had the cockpit enclosed in sunbrella/plastic last fall and are really appreciating the extra protection. I call it our solarium.


May 23rd brought our first real significant high-pressure area, summer temperatures, and coincided perfectly with our reservation for our annual haul out at Canoe Cove. Things started poorly when we arrived on schedule at 3pm and found that the boatlift was broken. But they got it repaired and we were on the hard by 5pm. We only had to change the zincs, do the bottom paint and some minor repair to the hull where the keel bolts onto the boat. They made up for the late haul out by having us back in the water by 3pm on the next day.


We spent one night in a transient spot at Canoe Cove while we visited friends then headed for Butchart Cove. Butchart Cove is right next to the very well known Butchart Gardens. They maintain four mooring buoys for visiting yachts in a pristine little cove. We stayed for two nights, enjoying a full gorgeous day in the gardens. Seal frolicked around Galiander and a very tame goose came around to visit on a regular basis.


From Butchart Cove we headed to Burgoyne Bay. Despite the fact that the high pressure area was weakening the weather was still warm and it was a very pleasant sail.


We last visited Burgoyne Bay about 20 years ago I think. It somehow feels a little seedier then I remember it. There are fresh logging scars, remembrances of a recent fierce logging controversy on Saltspring Island, which still festers. A well maintained log dump graces the north side of the bay. It is very quiet and well protected. There are a few sad looking boats on Mooring buoys, but otherwise we had the bay to ourselves. Eleanor kept busy fishing and scooped up a few bottom fish to grace our crab trap. With luck, we will feast tonight. A pair of swallows came to visit, perching on our life lines and posing while Eleanor takes pictures


July 18, Wednesday 

False Bay, Lasqueti Island


On Tuesday we had a wonderful sail up the Strait of Georgia, outside Galiano Island to Degnen Bay on Gabriola Island, the home port for Rod and Di Maddison. Had a great visit with them and Ches and Wynn.


Got an early start today hoping to take advantage of a morning south east breeze to push us up. We were lucky, the wind held longer than predicted and we had a nice sail / motor-sail here to False Bay. We are about half way to Desolation Sound now.


Weather has been cool and overcast, but not threatening. Winds were typically 15 knots from behind.


July 20, Friday

Gorge Harbour, Cortez Island


Desolation Sound. Four days, 20 litres of diesel fuel, mostly sailing, mostly cloudy, mostly pretty nice.... It is good to be here.


On Thursday we had a good sail across the Strait of Georgia, close hauled into a North West Wind to behind Denman Island. Then the fates dealt us a good hand. The wind shifted to the south and we had a lazy sail up the channel. Had to power for several hours, but not a bad day at all. Weather is improving.


Picked up a bucket of oysters from some young men. BBQ some. Shucked others for an Oyster Stew later. Hiked along Longbeak Spit.


The weather today was North West winds, dead on the nose but not heavy and predicted to abate so at 5:30am we got up and went. Tacked into the wind until about noon when it died and we powered the rest of the way. Sunny in the morning, cloudy in the afternoon. Some sprinkles of rain after we anchored.


Gorge Harbour is lovely and very protected. It is about a 2-hour sail from Heriot Bay on Quadra Island, where we will head tomorrow to meet our friends Murray and Nicole Allen and reprovision.


July 23, Monday

Octopus Islands Marine Park


*** An expert from Murray Allens Journal ***


Departed from our mothership, the "Galiander" and scooted through the tight channel that demarcates Crescent Channel and paddled north in our kayak for Surge Narrows. Galiander, skippered by Capt. Coulthard and first mate Lucky Lou (VE7LLC) putted and sailed beside to us up the Hoskyn Channel. No sweat.


But the real challenge lay ahead. We had to negotiate Surge Narrows at the correct spot and time. We knew the time the slack occurred, 1:06pm. 15 min before would have us hooting through the narrows like a super storm ship ... too fast and dangerous. 15 min after slack and we would not be able to buck the current - now changed to face us. You want to be bang on at 1:06pm.


Time was pressing towards 1:06pm, and we wanted to be close to the narrows in order to grab the slack. We pushed on, and at 12:45pm actually paddled along the shore and through the narrows. Yippee.


I called John on the radio, and after a worrisome delay, his panicked voice informed me that the engine blew, oil all over the engine compartment. This was major, visions of being towed back to Heriot Bay $$$. We turned quickly and ran back through the narrows, this time just before slack with the current pushing me.


At 1:10, John called. He fixed the gasket on the oil filter, added oil and was going to try and run through the narrows despite a head current.


Jeez, now minutes really counted. We turned again, and pulled hard against a current that seemed to get stronger against us with each stroke. We made it, but 5 minutes or less later and we wouldn't have.


John was behind us with an ailing motor - and at near full revs, barely made it through.


We had been quite nervous about this damned Surge Narrows, billed as a killer current, yet in 30 minutes we were back and forth in it 3 times.


************* End Murray Allen's Journal ************


Our oil filter gasket blew - leaking about a quart and a half of oil out into the engine compartment before I noticed it. The cause was fairly obvious - two rings where only one was intended, so I felt confident about the fix (new oil filter, top up oil). We barely made it through in time.


Engine ran flawlessly all the way to Octopus Islands, so I feel comfortable about it. It was pretty scary at the time though. What a mess to clean up.... Sigh...


It is overcast, raining lightly every now and then. Gale warning in Johnston Strait but it is very calm in here - very protected. We plan to stay for three nights.


All is well - trust me.


July 27, Friday

Von Donop Inlet, Cortez Island


Tuesday through Thursday brought wind and clear blue skies as an offshore high pressure ridge strengthened. Small Craft Warnings in the Strait of Georgia and Gale Warnings for Johnston Strait translate into much more moderate winds here. The protection inside the Octopus Islands is extremely good. We took the opportunity to do some hiking in the sunshine. On Wednesday we hiked all the way across Quadra Island to Granite Bay. On the way back we swam in Newton Lake - about a 6 hour return trip. Felt very good. Wonderful trail.


Thursday we pulled anchor and went a short distance to another tidal narrows called "Hole in the Wall" to await slack water. Murray and Nicole paddled. About 9:45am, another "killer current" behind us we dropped into Florence Cove to drift and have a leisurely late breakfast. Then Murray and Eleanor paddled while Nicole and I handled Galiander. We were blessed by a trailing wind and sailed all the way to Von Donop Inlet on Cortez Island, the run only being flawed by a big chunk of kelp that fell in love with our rudder and was extremely reluctant to part from it.


A low is moving through today and it is raining - so we will stick around here. When the rain stops there is a nice short little hike across Cortez to Squirrel Cove on the other shore. Tomorrow morning we will go to the Heriot Bay Marina, about 2 hours away, to re-provision and switch crew.


The engine ran flawlessly - I am beginning to rebuild my faith in it again.


When the oil filter leaked the oil spilled down onto the alternator belt. As you can imagine the belt sprayed crankcase oil around pretty well. I am slowly getting it all cleaned up. 


All is well, John.


July 31, Tuesday

Prideaux Haven


We towed Murray and Nicole’s kayak from Von Donnop Inlet to Heriot Bay on Saturday. It was not as straight forward as I thought. Towed behind it would fishtail and then capsized ripping off the centre storage area cover and spilling the contents which we managed to retrieve using the fishing net. After that we lashed it to the side. Murray and Eleanor kept an eye on it as we powered across the Channel in winds that gusted up to 28 knots. The moral - kayaks don't seem to tow well.


Eleanor's brother Johnny and Mary showed up on Saturday afternoon, bringing with them two replacement "house" batteries for the boat. I was suspicious about my old ones last fall and had them load tested, which they passed. They passed away in Von Donnop Inlet - another lesson learned.


We are doing what I call a "Classic Desolation Sound" tour with Johnny and Mary. Sunday a sail back to Von Donnop Inlet in a lovely breeze. Monday around to Squirrel Cove on the opposite side of Cortez. Today, in very light winds, we mostly powered to Prideaux Haven - what might be thought of as the jewel of Desolation Sound. Unfortunately most of the boating world knows about this place.


We arrived about 1pm. I wanted to get in early, ahead of the crowd. Turns out the crowd was already here. But we got a nice place to anchor and watched as even more boats crowded in, and what beautiful yachts some of them are - wow!


Eleanor gave me a haircut. Went swimming to wash the hair away (water temp 66f) We have been kayaking. Johnny and Mary are fishing. Our days have typically been cloudy in the morning and sunny in the afternoon. Life is good.


Wednesday we head half way back to Gorge Harbour on Cortez Island. Thursday we will be back in Heriot Bay for two nights. I have decided to replace the starting battery as well and will take the opportunity to slip over to Campbell River to get one.


I send and receive mail over a very slow HAM radio link. If you reply to this message please delete the original text from your message.


All is well, John.


Aug. 3, Friday

Heriot Bay Marina, Quadra Island


We returned to Heriot Bay with Johnny and Mary on Wednesday, a day ahead of schedule. A series of fronts was bringing wind and rain. We decided to go straight through while the conditions were not too difficult. But they were difficult enough. The downwind run from Cortez to Heriot Bay was quite lumpy (or perhaps "pukey") and Mary got sick. So we were happy to get in. Especially so after Thursday brought even more rain.


Thursday Johnny drove us around Campbell River and we picked up our new starting battery - it is now installed. I will not be fully convinced that all is well with our electrical system until we have several days cruising under our belt. But what was that we hear on the Marine Weather report Friday moring?


"Sunday an unseasonably strong front is expected to bring South East gales to most of the BC Coast"


So we have decided to stay put through Sunday. The heater has been on. One of Eleanor's friends wants to take her on a tour of some of the local Art Galleries. We have lots of time to reprovision. Life is not difficult.


Boaters coming south report that it has not been a great summer up north. We are beginning to rethink our plans about heading further north this year. (next summer we plan to start north much earlier, like in mid June).


August 7 (Tuesday)

Von Donnop Inlet, Cortez Island


Eleanor: An eagle watches as I write: at last we are "here" and relaxing in the sun. Sky is blue and shore is panning by in ochres, grays and dappled greens. And yes, I got my paints out. First time this trip.


Had a delightful visit on Quadra during the rainy-windy weather. Our friend showed us a beautiful art gallery-garden, Native lodge, April Point, an up scale fishing lodge, and entertained us and our sailing friends in her garden log home. Beginning to appreciate island experiences.


Also went drumming in the full moon. The moon didn't show and my shoulder keep me from drumming properly. I used my arm as a bungy cord to keep the big kayak from banging around and now am regretting the heroic effort. However if we get enough sunshine I'm sure it will heal.


John: Boy did it rain on Sunday. It was nice to be tucked in at the Marina. Had the electric heater on all day. The winds at the south end of Quadra Island were hitting 38 knots according to the weather report. The Heriot Bay Marina is in the lee of Quadra in South East winds so all we felt was a slow gentle roll caused by a reflection of the swells from the opposite side of the bay. I stayed on the boat and got caught up on some computer stuff and read.


It looks like the sunshine will stay with us a while. Eleanor had all our bedding out airing on the top of the boat. Yesterday we hiked for about 2 hours and today we did it again, this time to a salt water lagoon. We may stay another full day and do another hike - the woods are so beautiful here.


We are not going to head further north. We will be poking about new places here in Desolation Sound for the next week I figure, then starting down south in a lazy fashion.


August 9, Thursday

Carrington Bay, Cortez Island


The weather continues to be wonderful. Wednesday we hiked to the Squirrel Cove store. It takes 1 to 1.5 hours each way, about half on a beautiful trail and half on a very hot road where, thankfully, you can hitchhike.


Von Donnop Inlet was been so beautiful but after 3 nights we were ready to move on. At times the water was filled with small 2 inch white jellyfish. There are so many it makes me think that the bay is a big pot of jellyfish stew. Where do they come from and where do they go? Why are they all moving in the same direction? Fascinating.


Carrington Bay is just around the corner from Von Donnop Inlet. This is our first visit and a definite winner. We are alone anchored behind James Island. Eleanor put down a fishing hook, and while she was untangling a snarl hooked a beautiful rock cod that she brought in hand over hand. Minutes after putting the hook down again she had another and our supper plans were solved. We also tried to entice some crabs to join us for supper with the cod guts, but not even a small one answered the call.


We are both enjoying Kayaking while we wait for a patch on a pinhole leak in our Dinghy to cure.


Tomorrow we plan to go to Refuge Cove, which is on West Redonda Island on the opposite side of Cortez from here. It is a very popular reprovisioning spot for boats in Desolation Sound. Our 20lb propane tank is now empty. We are using the 10lb BBQ tank in the meantime.


All is well, John & Eleanor


August 11, 2001, Saturday

Roscoe Bay, West Redonda Island


Friday morning we headed around the north end of Cortez - destination Refuge Cove, a popular place to reprovision that we had never visited. The weather was flawless, the winds light. Coming up Lewis Channel on the east side of Cortez was an interesting experience. This is a narrow deep channel and was packed with boats of all descriptions making their way to unknown destinations. A tug and tow. A Catalina 42 powered past us - nice boat. Then an even bigger Beneteau came by. By far the majority were powerboats and we frequently had to alter course briefly to handle their wakes. A really big cruise ship called "The Spirit of 98" came by.


Refuge Cove was a hectic scene around 12:30. Float planes coming and going. Boats everywhere, circling, waiting for an opportunity to approach the fuel dock or find a spot at the public dock, where rafting is mandatory. A real zoo. Three times I said "Let's get out of here". The 3rd time we went, about a half hour away to Squirrel Cove where we got the Propane and food we wanted. Squirrel cove was not too busy and we got a lovely place to anchor close the west side, in the shade from the hot afternoon sun. We swam in the warm water. Lovely. We will return to Refuge Cove some time when they are not so busy.


Saturday a short trip brought us to Roscoe Bay. The entrance is so shallow it dries at low tide, so you can only enter at mid tide or higher. It is relatively crowded, but we arrived early and easily found a nice place on the west side, out of the afternoon sun. There is a real festive, summer feel about the place. People are swimming. There is the sound of laughter drifting over the water.


We went and swam in Black Lake this afternoon. Tomorrow we plan to hike Llanover Mtn (6k one way) and swim in Black Lake again.


Today the head (toilet) plugged up. Fortunately we were able to clear it after we arrived. Had me worried for a while though.


Fabulous weather - all is well, John & Eleanor


August 13, Monday

Toba Wildernest Resort


Llanover Mtn was a great hike. We left at 9am and got back about 1pm. It actually only takes about an hour and a quarter to hike the 6km trail. There is a 680-meter altitude gain. It was a great cardiovascular workout. We were greeted at the top by a pretty nice view and several of the local horseflies, so we didn't linger very long. Darned hot at the top also, while the trail is entirely in the forest, and a very pretty and varied trail at that.


A refreshing swim in Black Lake revived us later in the afternoon.


Monday at 10:30am we snuck over the shallows that protect Roscoe Cove. At zero tide it dries, blocking the cove entirely. We had six feet on a rising tide. Toba WilderNest Resort, about 2 hours north of Roscoe Bay, is a rustic resort near the entrance to Toba Inlet. It has a limited amount of dock space for moorage but we were lucky and managed to get in. The view can only be described as breathtaking. Eleanor's watercolours were out within minutes after we got docked.


There is a little store with a limited variety of goods. If you take something you write it down in a book next to your boat's name. You pay them between 8am and 10am in the morning. They have some accommodation and several Kayakers are here. It has a laid back and extremely friendly feel. There is a very nice waterfall a short walk away, which also provides water to drive an electrical generator. It is reminiscent of the one at Louis Potvin's place on Lilloette Lake.


The water at the dock is wonderful - fill up the tanks! (One boater commented he planned to empty the other water in his tanks before he filled up).


We like it so much we plan to stay another night. Tomorrow we will cruise to the end of Toba Inlet and back - we won't have to worry about fitting into a crowded anchorage late in the day.


John & Eleanor


August 16 (Thursday)

Squirrel Cove, Cortez Island


We had a wonderful sail up Toba Inlet on Tuesday. It is a very deep inlet, both in depth of water and length. if we had wanted to do the whole thing we would have had to spend two days and power much of the way. As it was we had a lovely sail in approximately 10 knot winds. We went about 1/3rd of the way down, to Brem Bay at the first corner, had a nice look up the rest of the inlet and then tacked all the way back up. Porpoises entertained us. It was a lovely day. All that tacking gave us a good physical workout.


Wednesday we powered and sailed over to Squirrel Cove and rafted up to Winsome X with Eleanor's Uncle Ches and wife Winn on board. It is fun to be in company again. Last night we had Pizza on board Winsome. Tonight (Thursday) Ches and Winn will be over here on Galiander for chicken and cod. We are enjoying hearing Ches' stories about their trip down to the South Pacific.


The wind has moved to the South East, a winter pattern. There is more cloud cover but it is still warm. We will stay here around Desolation sound until the wind swings back to the North West, then we will start working our way home. Ches and Winn are planning to head over to Quadra Island.


August 18 (Saturday)



Went from Squirrel Cove to a place called Galley Bay with Ches and Winn on Friday. We had a wonderful visit. Today they headed to Cortez Bay and we powered into the wind a short distance to Lund.


We quite like Lund. It has a nice feel. Did Laundry, dumped garbage, took on water, ate supper at the hotel.


If the weatherman does not change his forecast we be heading south tomorrow. If he changes his tale we will probably go to the Copelands, very close by, to wait for more favourable winds.


Aug 19, Sunday

Smugglers Cove


Today we powered for 8 and a half hours. We don't like doing that but decided to make the move while we had the chance. The winds were light and going the same way but not strong enough to give us much assistance. The weather man is predicting "a vigourous front" late on Monday. The long range forecast is indicating rain on Tuesday and Wednesday. Where do we want to be?


Tomorrow morning we plan to head out early and cross to Naniamo. Should be in by noon. Nothing like a little civilization to cheer up a damp day.


August 20, Monday

Port of Naniamo, BC


Crossing the Strait of Georgia this morning was straight forward but strange. To the North were clear skies. To the South there was extensive cloud cover and directly overhead was an ominous looking black cloud. The winds were light and flukey the first half of the crossing. The seas were most unusual, a strange conglomeration of 1-2 foot waves. They seemed to break randomly sending foam straight up. Galiander bucked and complained as we powered forward.


About half way across the sky conditions improved and the wind steadied to the South East, a fore bringer of the gale force winds expected tonight and tomorrow. We had a nice sail into Naniamo Harbour arriving about noon. We are hunkered down on the public docks in the port of Naniamo, behind the breakwater, plugged in, tidied up and ready.


This is a wonderful place - London Drugs, Thriftys, Marine Store, etc. etc. Eleanor took in 7 rolls of film for developing.


Looks like we will be here for 2-3 nights.


All is well, John & Eleanor


August 23, Thursday

Whaler Bay, Galiano Island


We met new friends Elsie and Graham from a 34 foot Beneteau called Waterford. They live in Sidney and like us were waiting for an opportunity to make the final move home. On Wednesday we had a good hike together on Newcastle Island and a late pub lunch at the Dinghy Pub on Protection Island (two small islands that form part of the protection for the Port of Naniamo. The weather continues to be indifferent, cloudy, showers, strong winds from the South East (where we want to go). Eleanor got all her new pictures stuffed into an album.


Left Port of Naniamo at 6:30am, Thursday morning, under uncertain skies and wind predictions that were still against us but less severe. After 3 days in port I was very anxious to get home - it was time to go. We passed through Dodds Narrows at 7am and after a long indifferent day of powering into a 10-15 knot wind we touched the Whaler Bay dock at 3pm.


And is it good to be back. I am gathering together my blackberry harvest tools. The fire is on. The place looks and feels great!


This will probably be our last cruising report this year

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Created November 12, 2001