Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Life on the water again

It’s amazing how after only a few months we forgot exactly how wonderful living on the water is. Life becomes simpler, we become closer as a family, more dependent on one another. The freedom from land based routines to routines dictated by wind, tides and currents. We have choices of where to go, and how long to stay. Then there is of course the breathtaking scenery and abundance of wildlife all around us.
Dawn. Rebecca Spit

There is nothing like visiting new places and experiencing a jolt of awe when you see something for the first time. It’s like shot of adrenalin. The second time you visit a place it’s never quite the same as the first time you visit a place. You might not experience the exact same feeling but it is different. Knowing where you are going to and what you are going to see when you get there is a different experience, it can give you a feeling of security and familiarity. As much as I like visiting new cities visiting new natural places are more rewarding for me. Cities these days are becoming more similar all over the world: same  chain restaurants and shops, cars, architecture, and people are even stating to look the same, all due, no doubt, to better communications and corporate globalisation. Natural beauty on the other hand seems to me so much more unique from place to place and thus still gives me the “jolt of awe” when I see something new.  To be honest, I like both. Having been in the wilds for a while it’s nice to go to a city but it’s always great to be back in natural surroundings, spring, summer and autumn at least!    

We departed Anacortes with the wind to the west, the direction we were heading, so we motored until we crossed the Rosario Strait and through Thatcher pass when we raised the sails and turned off the engine as the winds changed direction to north. We were all feeling very smug in our cockpit with its new covers sheltering us from the elements outside. It does take a little bit away from the sailing experience and you have to rely on the wind instruments to sail rather than the wind on your face, but it’s warm and dry! Marvelous. I am sure we will appreciate it even more as we head north.

We sailed all the way to Friday harbor, checked out with US customs and immigration, decided to buy some more beer as it’s cheaper in the US, and headed off to Sidney, British Columbia, Canada. Again fortune was with us as the wind had shifted again and allowed us to sail all the way to Sidney with the current behind us, where we checked in by telephone to Canadian customs and immigration and raised the sails again for Montague harbor in the Canadian gulf islands. We had a very peaceful night on a park mooring buoy and headed out the next morning to catch slack tide through Dodd Narrows. We sailed on a beam reach all the way to the narrows, up Trincomali channel and Stuart channel, 15 knots true wind and a reef in for comfort. In the end we fully reefed Sarita and just the headsail as we were making such good progress we would be arriving at the narrows early. Even then we were doing 6 knots.  Grin factor 9.

Once through the narrows we had a short passage to Mark Bay in Nanaimo where we dropped the anchor, went into town in the dinghy, bought the provisions we would not take across the border and went for a walk along the beach on Newcastle island.

We had planned to leave early the following morning for a long 80nm sail to Rebecca spit but the forecast was for 20-25 knot winds on the nose with gusts to 30knots. We decided to stay another day, 20-25 knots is not normally that bad but given we had 80 miles to go it would have been of a slog and we did not need to endure that. Instead we had another pleasant day in Nanaimo. Looking at the weather during the day the wind never got above 15 knots so we would have been alright. So it was that we departed at 6am on the dot for Rebecca spit. Out in the Strait of Georgia it was already 15 knots against the predicted 5-10 knots, it slowly built and by 9am it was 20 knots. We decided to raise the sails and beat our way up the Strait of Georgia. It would take us longer but would save using the engine. We made some good progress and sailed for 7 hours then the winds died and we motored for a while until the winds picked up again and we raised the sails again. The Canadian airforce provided us with a wonderful show of acrobatics for a couple of hours. Their ariel display team were practicing off the coast of Vancouver island and we watched them perform as we sailed the rest of the way to Rebecca spit, arriving at 8:30 in the evening and dusk. It was a long day but we had sunshine all the way and some great sailing. We dropped the hook off at the north end of the spit in sheltered water. We were the only one there, in fact we did not see another boat he whole day other than the Comox ferry from Powell river.  
Crab dinner

After a peaceful night and wonderful sleep we were up again early the next morning to catch slack tide at Beazley passage and then on to the Octopus Islands, only a short 15 mile hop. Now that we are in the smaller channels the wind is either on your nose going north or on your stern heading south so we had to motor the whole way. The Octopus islands are one of our favorite anchorages. We had stayed there for nearly a week at the end of last season and had a great time kayaking and exploring around the islands. We arrived at around 9:45am to an empty anchorage and dropped the hook in the same place as before. It was another gloriously sunny day so we rowed our dinghy, Little George, to one of the islands where we explored and caught some crab. We had also dropped the crab pot in the water on the way and our luck was in as we had a total of three worthy specimens for supper.   Sitting in the cockpit we watched all the wildlife around us: Otters, raccoons, seals, eagles and many species of wildfowl. It was also warm. Yes 17c so we were in t shirts and I did go for a paddle, although not a swim.          

Driftwood sculpture shack - Octopus Islands

1 comment:

  1. Crab already! Jealous....

    Kelly and I did not get out...Kelly had a nasty cold. So, I spent the days on the boat doing maintenance and system checks etc. Great being on the boat. Need a trip somewhere next....

    Remember Naga, the catamaran moored stern in on TDN dock near where Sarita was for the winter? They are headed north and intend to be in Glacier Bay the end of June. I told them about you and your trip. They said they would look out for you! Mr Naga mentioned permits required for Glacier Bay, no earlier than 60 days in advance and communication with the authority via phone and fax.

    Fair winds and following seas!