Galiander Travels - 2011

Re-exploring the South Gulf Islands

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June 21(Mon)-23(Wed), 2011: Haulout at Canoe Cove
July 10(Sun) - 14(Thu) Cabbage and Tumbo Islands.
August 1-2: Parker Island and James Bay.
August 12-13 (Fri-Sat): Wallace Island.
August 24-26: Ganges Harbour

June 21(Mon)-23(Wed), 2011: Haulout at Canoe Cove

It is hard to believe that a year ago at this time we were heading North to Desolation Sound. What a difference in the weather this year. However we did luck out with a lovely three day window for a flawless haulout at the Canoe Cove Marina next to the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal on the Saanich Pennisula. The weather was favourable, the tides were favourable... what can I say?

The tides were good and the winds were light when we left on Monday morning. We made good time under power and decided to stop at Princess Cove on Portland Island  for a little lunch break before proceeding to Canoe Cove.

 The weather continued to cooperate and Canoe Cove did all the work on Tuesday while we passed the time by sanding and painting some of the teak and visited with boating friends. Sofies's Cafe is still there with their great breakfasts, as is the Stonehouse Pub.

Each spring I have to get a diver to clear all the barnacles off the prop. The buildup is so bad that we can't even move off the dock unless this is done. This year we decided to have a paint called "propspeed" applied. It is guaranteed for two years - expensive but worth it if it saves me two diver fees. We will see.

We had a wonderful sail home on Wednesday. This get's our appetite worked up for the summer season.

This year we plan to cruise and re-explore the South Gulf Islands.

July 10(Sun) - 14(Thu) Cabbage and Tumbo Islands.

The weather forecast was decidedly uncertain, in fact quite dreary sounding, but with light southerly winds we decided to make the short trip straight south from Whaler Bay to the lovely Cabbage and Tumbo Islands at the south east end of Saturna Island.

This is an outstandingly beautiful area but only pleasant to visit during southerly winds. Our decision was a winner. We ended up spending three nights here.

The hiking on Tumbo island includes Arbutus and Garry Oak stands. An old homestead provides intriguing glimpses into the past.

Spectacular sunsets, sandy beaches - wow!

After three idyllic days swimming and exploring, a deteriorating weather situation made us decide to make our way around the bottom of Saturna Island up to Port Browning on Pender Island and their fine refurbished docks and pub. It is a short walk to the stores.

Lots of rain on Thursday morning and a poor outlook made us decide to scoot for home with a nice sail up Navy Channel and a fast trip through Active Pass with the flood tide carrying us along and BC Ferries adding a little tension.

We lit a fire in the fireplace when we got home - is this really July?

August 1-2: Parker Island and James Bay.

Soon after a visit to Oliver (in the Okanagan Valley) to visit Eleanor's father we slipped in an overnighter. Friends who live on Parker Island (Parker Island is the Island that forms the west side of Montague Harbour on Galiano) invited us over to see their home and we decided to make an overnight excursion to do this. We left Monday morning with two guests on board who wanted to experience the trip through Active Pass and around to Montague.

Even little trips can be sprinkled with a little suspense. We had hardly started  into the outer part of Whaler Bay when I noticed that the engine was overheating. A quick visual check showed that the engine cooling water was not circulating properly so down went the anchor! We had to turn off the engine and check it. Something was blocking the cooling water intake on the outside of the hull. I was lucky and didn't have to swim under the boat to free it. Instead I managed to clear it by pushing a wire down from the inside of the boat and poking whatever it was away. Soon we were on our way again. This is only the third time in our 13 years with this boat that this has happened. Once I swam down to clear it (a plastic bag was blocking it in that case) and the other times I managed to do it from the inside.

We powered up the outside of Parker Island and then slipped around the North end into Montague, hoisting the jib for a nice quiet little sail. But the boat was not performing well.... A great big bunch of kelp was wrapped around the rudder. We  solved this problem by using a boat pole to haul up the  kelp and then cutting it with a bread knife. Finally we got a lovely slow sail into Montague harbour and dropped off our guests. Then we took  a quick trip across the bay to Parker Island and visited the Midgely's wonderful new home nestled amongst the  arbutus trees.

We spent the night anchored in Montague Harbour along with well over 100 other boats. There is a good reason for the popularity of this harbour: great holding for an anchor, good protection and fabulous sunsets.

The last day  we  sailed into our old favourite anchorage, James Bay on Prevost Island. James Bay and the surrounding North/East corner of Prevost Island are all part of the South Gulf Islands National Park. We love to go to places where we can go ashore and hike around a bit.

After a quiet day of dozing in the cockpit and poking around James Bay we headed home, swooping through Active Pass on an incoming tide that at times doubled our speed. Our final little bit of spice was provided by the Spirit of British Columbia which threw us such a large wake that we buried the bow of Galiander in the wave when we crossed it, taking a bit of water in our fore-berth where our hatch  was cracked open.

A picture perfect landing at Whaler Bay finished this little trip.

August 12-13 (Fri-Sat): Wallace Island.

This time out nasty weather in the forecast for Sunday made us decide on an overnight cruise to Wallace Island. Wallace Island is an old favourite of ours. We come here again and again for its wonderful hiking and overall beauty. This time we had Eleanor's brother, John, and his partner, Miranda, as guests.

At this time of the year, however, there is just one wee problem. Wallace Island tends to be a mite crowded. Some years ago I decided that we would never "stern tie" again - getting too old for that sort of gymnastics (Stern tying involves putting down the anchor and then securing a stern line to shore so the boat doesn't swing around the anchor - a lot more boats can be packed into an anchorage if they all use this technique). But we had crew on board and if we wanted to stay, there weren't any other choices. So we stern tied. Not only that - I wasn't happy with the job the first time we did it as there wasn't enough scope for the anchor (i.e. I didn't drop the anchor out far enough from the boat). So up came the anchor and we did it a second time; then  I was content...

Then we went for a lazy hike to explore Conover Cove and Panther Point at the south end. When we returned to Galiander we discovered that another boat had stern tied on the opposite side of the bay.

But... - oops - the two anchor lines were passing over each other. Crowded anchorages have their problems

So the next morning Eleanor and her brother rowed over for a little chat. The skipper on the other boat was very pleasant and  understood the problem immediately. They let loose their stern line and pulled forward on their anchor so we could pass behind the stern of their boat as we pulled in our anchor. Off we went. But our problems weren't over - outside the bay the engine started overheating - darn cooling water intake was blocked again. So we popped out a little jib sail to give us steerage, turned off the engine and sailed downwind while I cleared the problem. The water was very shallow where we anchored. Maybe we picked up a weed in the water intake while anchoring. Still... two incidents like that so close together may not be accidental. We have had no problems since then but when the weather improves I intend to swim the boat and make sure there is nothing stuck there on the bottom.

Our trip through Active Pass was uneventful - no big ferries - only the little Bowen Queen.  Eleanor's brother steered us through Active Pass and I (John) took over for the docking in a brisk South East wind.

We came back to a wonderful Galiano harvest. Our niece, husband and friends were at the house and had caught a beautiful lingcod and crabs.

Then Sunday turned out to not be such a bad day after all. It is good to be home.

August 24-26: Ganges Harbour

You may remember that we had something blocking our cooling water intake two trips in a row - perhaps a coincidence, perhaps not. About a week after our last trip I swam under Galiander and checked the cooling water intake hole and found the little culprit - a piece of seaweed was partially blocking the intake.

We received a wonderful invitation from friends who have been staying at a house on Ganges Harbour to come over for a visit. They even had a mooring buoy available in front of their dock. So we went over and spent two delightful nights and days enjoying Ganges Harbour on Saltspring Island. 

In the morning we were greeted by this panorama of Ganges Harbour bathed in the sunlight.  Swans came to visit. Float planes buzzed in and out. Quite a scene.

The trip culminated with a lovely meal for the four of us at the Oystercatcher restaurant.

Before returning we navigated around Prevost Island and took a quick diversion into Diver's Bay; a spot we will explore on a future trip. 

And of course there is always Active Pass to navigate before we get home ...

"Sailboat between Enterprise reef and Active Pass this is the Carrier Princess".

"Carrier Princess this is Galiander."

"Are you aware we are behind you."

"You betcha!  I will keep well over to the right."

"OK captain. There is a lot of current in there."

The Carrier Princess is a small commercial ferry that carries semi trailer's. When I first saw it I judged that it would pass us after we entered Active Pass. I changed my mind a little while later. I did not want it passing us near or in the narrow south entrance.

"Carrier Princess this is Galiander. We will pull over to the side here and then follow you into Active Pass"

"Thank you.".

The current in Active Pass was going at about 4 knots, generating some interesting little whirlpools, and lots of birdlife. Our passage was uneventful.

It is always marvellous to come home to a beautiful sunset.

This ends our cruising this season. We are off to do some Babysitting for our grandchildren and visit Eleanor's father in the Okanagan. 

John & Eleanor.
Sep 8/11