Seattle Boat Show

We spent a week at the Seattle Boat show looking at what's both new and old in Pacific Northwest boating. We also mixed our nautical exploits with excursions in and around Seattle. The show also provided an opportunity for us to visit with friends. It seems we have amassed a great bunch of people who live in and around Seattle. Some are fellow cruisers we met in faraway anchorages and others are old friends from many different places and times in our lives. Everyone we talked to said the boat show traffic was up from last year, and the prices were down. I don't know if this is a reflection of better times ahead or simply a response to the more approachable price points.

The queue on opening morning


Karen takes the master head for a "dry run"


 Karen and Bob get in some "tourist time"


An evening view of the Lake Union in-water show from a 60ft Willard


Seattle skyline from Alki Beach


Seattle morning skyline from the stern of the Bainbridge Ferry


Dinner at a French Bistro overlooking the Harbor of Seattle


The main floor of the indoor show at the Quest Center


I had to pry Karen off the Krogen 58

Another great dinner in Seattle



Karen helps navigate when we lend a hand moving boats after the show closes


We had to delay our return home for one day because of the winter storm that shut down the East Coast. Even those Seattle cloudy days look good when you're shoveling two feet of snow.

Welcome Home!!!

Double Bay to Pearce Islands

The fog was as thick as the preverbal “pea soup” when I awoke at 7:20AM. The forecast was for it to burn off this morning, but I’ve come to learn that in the vernacular of Environment Canada that could be any time up to and including 11:59.

The most interesting activity of the morning was listening to the whale boat reports that complained about not being able to see a thing in the fog. One boat reported that they spotted a fast approaching target on the radar only to have a seaplane land 200 meters from his boat. I thought nothing about that report, until I heard the unmistakable wine of a turbine aircraft engine.

I looked out into the fog only to eye an approaching seaplane.


FOG...  FOG...  FOG...

The pilot shut off his engine, got out of the plane and asked if we knew where the resort that was in Double Bay. He also asked if we could call them to send a boat out to guide him to the resort. I can only image what was going through the minds of the people who had their faces plastered to the window looking out into the murky fog.

Shortly thereafter a small boat came out and the aircraft followed him to the resort.


Follow Me!

It was about an hour later when the fog began to dissipate and we started our engines and the seaplane also took off right in front of us as we departed Double Bay. Such is air travel in British Columbia.

Our destination was the Pearse Islands, a small hodgepodge of islands that lay adjacent to Broughton Strait and are aligned NW to SW. The tricky part of the anchorage is the current. It changes direction evey six hours and runs almost five knots. Since wind would not be a factor, we decided to check it out, because it looked like a good place to Kayak.


The sun pushes the fog away

The Kayaking was more a workout that interesting due to the currents. At one point we had to “pull over” into a small, still, back water cove to rest after having paddled hard only to advance at no more than one knot. We saw lots of seals who seemed to be puzzled by our affinity to try to go into the current. They have long since learned it is smarter to go with the flow.


Arctic Star at anchor in the Pearse Islands

Because we had a good set to the anchor and the winds were to be calm, we decided to spend the night. A sailboat with another couple joined us later in the day and a smaller sailboat being single-handed by a local passed through the anchorage on his way to ports unknown.

The absolutely clear skies made for a brilliant yellow/orange/magenta sunset.

Simoom Sound to Ahta River then Kwatsi Bay

It was a quiet night at anchor and we both had a good night’s sleep. This was the first morning that I set an alarm because we needed to be underway by 8:30 to arrive at the Ahta River at 10:30, two hours before high tide. 

At we motored into Ahta River Valley at the end of Bond Sound, the clouds started to break. It was beautiful. We found a temporary anchorage not far from the mouth of the river and made ready the Kayaks. We had visited this river last year in the dinghy, but vowed to come back and explore in the Kayaks, hoping we could get further up the river and the creek with less draft. 

The day was chamber of commerce perfect. We enjoyed clear skies, bright sun and the temperatures actually moved past 60 degrees, but just barely. 



Picture perfect day in Bond Sound 

It appeared that we had timed our arrival just right, as there were numerous fishermen also converging at the river’s mouth. There were two fly fishermen with their guides, and a commercial netter was also working the water at the head of the Sound. 



Karen leads the way up the Ahta river 



We pushed as far as the shallow water would allow 

Karen and I worked our way back into the river by kayak, looking for fish and hopefully bear. Neither was to be found, but we had a great time exploring the nooks and crannies and shallows of the famous Ahta (both the River and the Creek). We did see places where the bear come down to the water to fish. It’s very obvious where the tall grasses have been trampled flat and the bear has spent time lounging by the river’s edge. You also see an occasional bear paw print in the small sandy “beaches” made when the the black bear fish in the shallows. The wind picked up, and we wanted to make sure the boat was still secure, so we headed back. 

Back on the boat, we checked our position; the boat had not moved. So we enjoyed lunch and spent the next two hours soaking up the sun’s rays, watching dolphins play, and watching the fishermen attempt to hook up. The fish seemed to taunt the poor fellows; they would jump out of the water all around the fishing boats, but no one ever caught a fish. Such is fishing. 



Surround by fish jumping all around, the could not get any into the boat 

All in all, we spent a glorious 5 hours at the head of Bond Sound. Around 3:30pm, it was time to make our way over to Kwatsi Bay.  



How Karen spent her afternoon  

We took a very minor detour over to Wahkana Bay to see what it was like. It lies at the end of a moderately long sound, so it provides very good protection in all conditions. However, there not much else to recommend it. You need to stern tie due to the deep water and the scenery is simple mountains with pine trees for 360 degrees. 

We arrived at Kwatsi Bay and were greeted by Max Kneirim. The family was at Port McNeill, having started school last week. So Max was all alone to tend the marina. After he helped us tie up, he was off to finish the prawns for the daily “happy hour” at five. Counting the boat that followed us into the bay, there were a total of 5 on the docks that evening. 

All the mariners gathered under the “party tent” shortly after five, and we spent a most pleasant 2.5 hours exchanging stories and noshing on yummies that each boat contributed to the cause. 



Good times at Kwatsi Bay Marina 

By 7:30pm, the declining temperatures convinced everyone to head back to their boats to warm up and start dinner. Karen and I spent some time planning the next day, as we have modified slightly her master plan. 

It seems we are in a rut with the weather and tomorrow is supposed to start off with low clouds and fog. Hopefully, that will break into sunny skies again, as it did today. 


The Burdwood Group to Simoom Sound

You guessed it! It was cloudy when we awoke. Not foggy, but we did have a low ceiling composed of our Northwest cloud companions. There was a light mist, just enough to make you say “yuck” when you walked on deck.

After breakfast, we made our way the short distance to Pierre’s at Echo Bay. The agenda at Pierre’s was to take on water, do laundry and some minor provisioning. We also needed to satisfy our curiosity. Pierre had moved his entire operation one bay south to Echo Bay. In typical Pierre fashion, he did a first class job of a major upgrade to the old Echo Bay facilities.


The approach to the new Pierre's. The big pig roast tent clearly visible on the right.


The nice new docks at Pierre's


The Canadian Coast Gurad makes a visit.

Looking ahead we needed to be at the entrance to the Ahta River in Bond Sound at noon on Thursday. Therefore, we decided to leave Pierre’s and position ourselves a little closer for an early morning launch, stopping at MacIntosh Bay in Simoom Sound.

Turns out this spot was very much to our liking. It’s cozy, but with enough little islands to explore by kayak and some great views to the Southwest and West. Plus, the skies cleared!

Explore we did. The water is very tannin; “cedar water” they call it up here. As this area is almost at the end of a long passage, there is not as much exchange of water as those anchorages in the confluence of more rapidly moving waters.


Karen checks out the local signage on the First Nation reservation


Simoom Sound, smooth as glass

The net of all this is that there was less wildlife to see in Simoom Sound. However, we were content to enjoy the marvelous scenery as we sat in the shadow of Bald Mountain, a large granite mountain whose west side is almost vertical and thus devoid of any vegetation.


Bald mountain peaks out from under the clouds


Sunset in Simoom Sound

Napier Bay to Davis Bay

I awoke early to a fog filled bay. After a clear night, all the heat had escaped and the cooling brought a thick but short-lived fog.

_rem2843 Foggy morning Napier Bay

_rem2845 The Sun is starting to break through the mist

By 10:30am, the sun had conquered the fog and a beautiful day was revealed in Napier Bay. It did not take long for everyone else in the bay to lift anchor and go their way.

Our plan was to make it a lazy morning since slack tide at Stuart Narrows was at 2:41PM and it was less than an hours cruise from where we sat.

I continued to unpack and organize all “the stuff”. The morning calm was broken up by a handful of harbour seals that had taken refuge on a neighboring log. Apparently breakfast was not yet being served, so they hauled onto the logs and awaited the dinner bell. I took the opportunity to try my longest lens and see if I could take some foggy morning pictures. The critters are certainly camouflaged for their environment. With their dark spotted fur, they look just like wet logs that are spotted with seagull poop.

See if you can pick out the seals for the logs.

_rem2894 Seal haul out

_rem2869edit Gulls hung out on the other end of the log

Between the extra time we had and the push of the changing tide we idled most of the way to the narrows. Even so we still had a little time to kill before slack tide, so we pulled into Helen Bay and did a slow once-around. One the shore is a memorial to two tugboat captains who lost their lives at Stuart Narrows. A reminder that these natural funnels can create currents that can best even the most experienced mariner.

Two boats joined us in Helen Bay: another Grand Banks and a Fleming 55 named Couverden. The Fleming was drift fishing and they would get out into the strong current and drift toward the narrows, fishing all the way. When they got close enough, they would power away from the narrows, go up-current, cut their engines and do it all over again. One thing I have learned is that fishermen can find a way to turn any circumstance into a reason to drop a line.

Our transit through Stuart Narrows was uneventful, as planned. It never ceases to amaze how these turbulent parcels of water transform themselves into a millpond for a brief few minutes during slack water.

_rem2947_wells_passage_pano_smalled Stuart Narrows

Karen had made a last minute call and changed our destination from Richmond Bay to Davis Bay. It was a very good call. Lying at the end of a little passage, this small bay is as pretty as they come. Perfect for one boat, you anchor near to the shore and face West in anticipation of a beautiful sunset. It provides reasonable protection, and what you give up in 360 degree protection, you get back in beautiful views back out into Drury Inlet.

Port McNeill to Napier Bay

Today we will cast off on our trip through the Broughton Islands. However, there is still a long list of “must do’s” before we can leave. Provisioning was first on the list. Today was the day we are going to get our fresh meats and other perishables. There are two grocery stores in Port McNeill and we shopped at both in order to try to get the best each had to offer. Once done, supplies were stowed on board Arctic Star and we then greeted the fellow from Comox Valley Kayaks who rented us our Kayaks for the next three weeks. They delivered them to the docks some two hours from their base of operation in Comox. The three of us took the two kayaks in hand and marched down the long docks toward the boat, looking like a train made up of two bright red Kayaks.

Next, we had to return the rental car. That was a 20-kilometer drive to the Budget rental car facility at the Port Hardy airport. Steve Jackman, our harbour master host at Port McNeill, was kind enough to loan us his van as chase vehicle for the rental car return mission.

After returning the car, we went into Port Hardy to the Overwaitea grocery for some even more last minute shopping. What a great store. Pricier than the one in Port McNeill but they have some of the best produce we have seen in all our provisioning on Vancouver Island.

Next we stopped at IV’s at the Quarterdeck for some halibut fish and chips accompanied by sweet potato fries with curry. “Yummy” said Karen.

By the time we returned to Port McNeill, offloaded the last of the provisions and retuned Steve’s van, it was 3:45pm before we left the dock at Port McNeill. The seas were two to four feet in swells. Arctic Star handled them with aplomb.

We were headed to Napier Bay, just a two hour drive across Queen Charlotte Strait from Port McNeill. When we arrived, there were 5 other boats at anchor. We picked our spot and set anchor.

Port McNeill

We were up and at ‘em Friday morning, making sure to hit the breakfast buffet at the Black Bear Lodge before starting our crazy day. It was good, especially Karen’s waffle. I think I’ll have one of those tomorrow. We decided to head for the docks and find Arctic Star and Steve Jackman, our “host” at the docks who was responsible for cleaning and doing some quick boat maintenance. We found both right away. Steve is a great guy who runs multiple businesses in Port McNeill, and he had lots of information to share.

Because he had things well in hand and we couldn’t get aboard till later, we decided to spend our day in Alert Bay. It's the location of an Indian reservation with the renowned U’mista Cultural Center that showcases many Indian artifacts.

The ferry ride was an easy one – it took about 45 minutes from Port McNeill to Alert Bay.


The ferry to Alert Bay


This forty year old ferry looked almost new

The ferry carries about 30 cars or so, this one wasn’t quite full. When we disembarked, we headed right to the Visitors Information Center to get the lay of the land. After a quick lunch, we headed out to see some old totem poles and then to the U’mista Cultural Center.


Karen awaits lunch at Alert Bay

The Center was amazing. Built in the 80’s to house a just-returned collection of Potlatch items (especially masks), the Center is a source of great pride to the tribe. There was a great introductory video that explained history behind the Center and the impetus for the Canadian Government to return the “stolen” collection of items to the Indians.


Just part of the amazing collection of masks


A visit to the Big House is not to be missed


Karen shows the inspiration for the art on the canoe


Bob's new friend

After that, we drove up to the Ecological Reserve to walk through the rainforest a bit before heading back to Port McNeill. If we had it to do again, we’d arrange it so we had more time…but we had to return to get the keys to Arctic Star and start provisioning. After a long day, we had a quick bite at the Harbour Lights restaurant, which was really good, before doing a load of laundry and turning in for the evening.

Nanaimo to Port McNeill

We’re off. First we begin the process of provisioning for the three-week trip. Our goal is to get as much as possible in the more heavily populated area surrounding Nanaimo in order to maximize selection and minimize costs. Beer, wine, soda, paper towels, spices, and other staples that do not require refrigeration or freezing are on the list for today. After visiting a couple of stores for alcohol and a great grocery store with a great Asian specialty section, we pointed the rental car north on Route 19A. About an hour North, we diverted West on Route 4A to visited the Country Store, better known as the place with the “Goats on the Roof”. (The roof is steeply pitched with grass on it and lots of goats.)

This place is a strange mixture of gourmet food, homemade breads and baked goods and a restaurant. Lunch was first on the agenda, followed by trying to find unique food items we could find nowhere else, and a few perishables that would fit in the small refrigerator we’ll have in our hotel room in Port McNeill. After leaving The Country Store, it’s a long drive through logging country on North Vancouver Island. Karen worked on a presentation that had to be completed before we hopped on the boat.

On schedule, we pulled into Port McNeill and checked in to Black Bear Lodge. This is our second stay here and we can highly recommend it if you find yourself in Port McNeill.

Philadelphia to Nanaimo

Today is a travel day. We awoke at 3:15AM in order to catch a 6:30 flight from Philadelphia to Toronto. There we cleared customs, and waited for our next Air Canada flight to Vancouver. Our third and last flight is from Vancouver to Nanaimo. Karen_waits_at_vancouver Karen waits for our ride to Nanaimo at the Vancouver airport


Our ride to Nananaimo

Fortunately, the weather and airline equipment cooperated and everything ran on time.

By 1:30PM Pacific Daylight Savings Time, we gathered our 200 pounds of gear and piled into a Budget rental car. Our plan is to spend the night in Nanaimo, reset our body clocks and then start out tomorrow on our four-hour drive to Port McNeill.

Dinner was at our favorite spot, Penny’s Palapas. This floating restaurant is located in the Nanaimo harbour. It serves the freshest food and the halibut tacos are not to be missed.


Bob at Penny's

We discovered a great bookstore a few steps from our hotel. They specialize in Canadian and especially British Columbia local and nautical books and charts.

Sidney Harbour

Day two of our exile in mechanical trouble land. Although I awoke early in anticipation of the mechanics being at the boat early, answer in hand, it did not transpire according to my optimistic timetable. I held my ground until 10AM when I called Frank, the boss, to see what the plan was. They were in the process of constructing some special hoses to allow them to try a couple of bypass workarounds. Also, they had sent the computer print outs to those who can decipher them. They hoped that the mechanics would be down later in the morning once the hoses were complete. Since they encouraged us to entertain ourselves by enjoying Sidney, (not an encouraging sign from our perspective) we acquiesced given that we were sick of looking at the inside of Arctic Star. Sidney is a town of ten bookstores, all within a few blocks of the docks. So off to browse the bookshelves we went. Sidney is indeed a great town of bookstores with anything you can imagine available within a ten minute walk. After buying some new reading material we stopped at Fish on 5th for lunch.

Turns out that this little, unimposing restaurant, knows its fish. I had halibut and chips (yam fries instead of white potatoes) and Karen enjoyed a fish taco. We both left satisfied.


Fish on the 5th...Yummy

As we walked back to the boat, we ran into Nigel pushing his wheelbarrow full of tools, diesel fuel soaked rags and the offending part. Today’s trouble shooting was fruitful and the offending part was a stuck check valve in the primer pump. Nigel was heading back to the shop to see if he had a replacement part. It was about 1PM now so we strolled back to Arctic Star via a circuitous route up and down the finger piers checking out the myriad of boats docked in Sidney harbor. Big, small, old, new and everything in between was laid out for our perusal. We often talk about the size of the tides in this part of the world. In Sidney harbour the impact of the wide tidal range is driven home at the back of the harbour. The tidal mud flats cover and uncover with dramatic effect.


High Tide


Low Tide

Around 2:30 Nigel returned with a brand new primer pump in hand. About a half hour later Nigel had the engine running and happy.

It was too late to cast off, especially given our destination and the forecast winds. So a celebration dinner was the plan, and we walked a few blocks to the Thai restaurant. Nothing fancy, but very popular and some say the best restaurant in Sidney. We enjoyed our dinner, followed by some ice cream aboard Arctic Star and early to bed. Tomorrow, we bid fond farewell to Sidney and return to our vacation.

Sidney Harbour Marina

Well, what can I say? Today we’re in Sidney to have the mechanics try to get the port engine back up and running. Nigel, from Vector Marine Services, came on board this morning to work his magic. He methodically worked though all the fuel related trouble shooting procedures: Changed fuel filters, changed fuel sources, blew out all the fuel lines. All efforts were to no avail.


Nigel in the engine room tending to the reluctant engine

Mid-afternoon Nigel went back to the shop to fetch “the computer”. These engines have a moderate degree of computer control. Not as much as the current crop of engines, but they do have the ability to have a computer attached to them to run diagnostics.

Nigel returned with the computer and “the Boss”, Frank. They hooked up the cables and the laptop and began a series of tests. At the end of the day they left with the computer and a promise to come back in the morning after they had analyzed the information they gathered.


Frank "listening" to the engine with the laptop

Having spent all day on the boat with the mechanics, we decided to get out for dinner and found a Greek restaurant, Pier One, just up the street. Not bad. We watched Chris Matthews’ tribute to Tim Russert and went to bed, fingers crossed that tomorrow will see the port engine running again.

Princess Bay to Sidney Harbour

This is a day without a schedule until we have to leave for Sidney Harbour to meet up with the engine mechanic tomorrow morning.


Princess Bay panorama

Our big event for the day was to walk around the island. Of course, we did not determine in advance just how long a journey it might be.


Karen waiting for Bob to start our hike

So off we went. The trail was very nice; well worn and recently cut back. We walked about one third of the way around the island until we came to the “Kayakers beach”. This is an idyllic location for Kayakers to overnight and set up a base camp. There were at least three tents pitched but no sign of any Kayakers

After a brief rest we continued on, but could not find the continuation of the trail. We walked up and down a few promising looking paths, but none gave us the confidence to continue on.

We found our way back to the picnic benches on “Kayakers beach” and enjoyed three cookies each.


Cookie break

After our snack, we retraced our steps and made our way back to the boat. We unstuck the anchor to make our five mile passage to Sidney Harbour.


Arctic Star at Anchor in Princess Bay

The marina staff was very nice to fill our request for an end T-dock that would be easier for us to approach given our reduced maneuverability.

The areas adjacent the Harbour itself have undergone a fair amount of building and is much nicer than we remember it, some five years hence.

We walked the docks to do some boat snooping and finished up with a beer at the new Georgia hotel near the docks.


Ganges Harbour to Princess Bay, Portland Island

The first mission of the day was to go to the famous “Saturday Market” in Ganges. In fact, this was the only “hard date” we had in our itinerary because we had never been able to time a visit to this famous event.  
 A very small part of the Saturday Market at Ganges

The city’s park is overtaken with vendors selling their art, crafts, food and most anything else. Karen was able to find some very unique earrings and we a great “walking breakfast” as we worked our way along the rows of tents. We started out in a group with Anne, Doug, Bart and Jan, but we all dispersed to look at various items of interest. There was an amazing array of fresh cheeses, breads, rolls and organic produce. Too bad we didn’t really need anything!


Ganges Harbour panorama


Bart and Jan's dog, Bear, says goodbye

Back at the docks we took on some water and shoved off for Princess Bay. I know this name may seem familiar to readers of this blog, but Princess Bay is a very popular name with this version being found on Portland Island.


En route to Princess Bay


Our typical view as we travel to the Gulf Islands

As we were about three quarters of the way to our destination, the port engine lost RPM’s and eventually shut down. I went into the engine room and finding nothing obviously wrong, I called Northwest Explorations for advice. We, along with added advice from their engine expert, ran through a series of trouble shooting procedures. However, success was not to be had. Therefore, our plan is to arrive at Sidney Sunday night and have the Caterpillar dealer look at the problem first thing Monday.

So, on we went on one engine to Princess Bay. A small but very popular spot, we tucked in along with about another ten boats. We may spend most of the day here tomorrow, exploring the water at low tide in our kayaks and enjoying some of the hiking trails on the island. It’s a nice place, though very shallow at the head, and apparently quite popular with the Sidney crowd, being a scant five miles away.

Karen sat at the bow on a deck chair for hours, snooping with her binoculars, scoring anchoring attempts, and following eagles as they swooped and soared. It was a lovely and clear afternoon, and we took advantage of it!


Karen cannot resist a good snoop

Princess Bay to Ganges Harbour via Montague Harbour

As we were getting ready to pull anchor, the Canadian goose family from last night made another appearance to see what the breakfast offering was from Arctic Star. This time we told them they had better start teaching the young ones what life should really be like when it comes to foraging for food.


The little guy in the foreground always seened to be marching to his own tune


Dad was always on the lookout!

On our way to Ganges, we took a small detour to visit Montague Harbour, a large and very popular anchorage. Because of its popularity, it's not a place we ever visit for more than a hour or so. But since it was on the way, we decided to stop and see if anything was new. Overall, it appears to have not changed at all.


The docks at Montague Harbour

It’s a short journey to Ganges. As we rounded the next to last turn, we decided to follow the ferry into Long Harbour, the harbor right next to Ganges, just to check it out. As the name suggests, it’s long and pleasantly wide. There are many beautiful homes with long piers ending in deep water docks. A couple of the yacht clubs have out stations in Long Harbour so it turned out to be a happening place.

Our diversion complete, we made our way to Ganges Harbour. Our stop here was planned so we could accomplish many things. First a visit to the Saturday Market; second, we needed to provision; and third, we hoped to meet up with Anne and Doug, friends we made a few years before at Dent Island.

Doug and Anne were scheduled to be traveling on the outside of Vancouver Island. However, the weather has been relentless with high winds and large seas. So they had to abandon those plans and make their way back to Ganges Harbour. It was great to look up after we had docked Arctic Star to see Anne and Doug’s boat docked a few slips over.

We enjoyed a delicious dinner on board their boat along with Bart and Jan who were traveling in their own boat along with Dong and Anne. Bart grilled some killer salmon and Anne was a consummate hostess as always. We had a great time, a late night and consumed far too much wine, but we had a wonderful time with our old friends and enjoyed the company of our new ones.

Telegraph Harbour to Vesuvius Bay then to Princess Bay

We awoke to a sunny start to the day in Telegraph Harbour. As we have internet access, the first order of business is to check email, the stock market and some blogs I follow. Not much going on so we prepare to cast off from this always welcoming spot. 


View from the head of the ramp tp the Telegraph Harbour Marina 

Our destination is Vesuvius Bay. A locale we have never visited. It’s on Salt Spring Island, across the channel from Crofton on Vancouver Island. Karen calls Crofton  “the blight” because of the rather large paper mill that spews forth lots of industrial “smoke” into the otherwise pristine views. Vesuvius has ferry service every hour, so it’s a popular destination for the non-mariner wanting to visit Salt Spring Island. 


The welcome sign at Vesuvius Bay 

Beyond the fact that we have never been there, we wanted to check out the Village Store, but most importantly the Seaside Restaurant for their famous Halibut and Chips. Their reputation is well deserved. We enjoyed some of the best Fish & Chips ever while overlooking a small bay. 


Arctic Star dock on the outside of the Vesuvius Bay dock 

Along the way we visited the shop of Mark and Jacqueline Meredith. He is a retired PR/Ad guy who now creates pottery. And she is a very talented watercolor artist. She is one of the best artists we have found that truly captures the look and feel of this area. We spent a lot of time “talking shop” with Mark and our plan is to meet up with him again on Saturday at the Ganges market so we can meet his wife. 


Karen talks to Mark 

The wind picked up but the sunshine remained as we crossed the short distance to Princess Bay on Wallace Island. We visited this popular spot in 2005. When we arrived, we thought ourselves lucky, as there was no one else in the Bay. By the time we launched the dinghy and traversed to the park dock, a couple of powerboats arrived and proceeded to stern tie and raft up. Their dance of the stern tie was nothing if not entertaining. We watched for 25 minutes as they fought the wind and current to make fast their boats. It was a good lesson in learning to work with the wind and current rather than fighting it. Mother Nature always wins out, so it’s best to enlist her aid whenever possible. (Karen’s Note: These guys were hysterical. Dropping anchor while at full speed, dropping anchor on one side of the bay, trying to stern tie, running out of anchor rode while backing up – quite amusing.) 

Our destination on the land was to visit one of the Conover houses where people leave plaques commemorating their visit. We had done so in 2005 and wanted to see if we could find our plaque. Alas, we could not, although that was not unexpected. There is a steady exchange of old and new driftwood plaques every year. 


The cabin with all the signs 


The inside of the "sign cabin" 

So after a few more pictures of Conover Cove, Wallace Island and the like, we headed back to Princess Bay. Even more boats had arrived. This is a very popular spot and apparently in summer it’s rammed, jammed and packed.  

Due to our early arrival, we nestled at the head of the bay away from the crowd so we’re anticipating a quiet night. 


Sunset in Princess Bay 

While I was taking some sunset photos, two Canadian Geese and their four goslings came up and started asking for food. Even though we knew better, we figured the imprinting was already done, so we indulged them in a small snack. 

While the little ones and Mom had their treat, Dad watched over them and chased off the sea gulls that were looking to join in the evening festivities. Needless to say, they were turned away, at every attempt, by the watchful patriarch. 


Those pesky Seagulls at sunset 

Glenthorne Passage To Telegraph Harbour

Glenthorne was a millpond for all of the evening and the morning. The calm always makes for a good night’s sleep. Our neighbor hoisted sail a little before our departure. A single-handed sailor, he lifted the main, pulled the anchor and hoisted the jib. And he sat. The wind was calm and after about five minutes, he surrendered to the obvious and turned on his engine.


Our Neighbor Gets Under Way

He made his way out through the little cut and having picked up a few knots of breeze from Swanson Channel, he turned off his engine and returned to the life of a true sailor.

We, on the other hand, fired up both engines, the generator, our vast array of electronic navigation, radar and communications equipment and made our way out the long cut that is Glenthorne Passage. Having started life on the water as sailors, this mode of nautical travel, sitting in shirt sleeves in a heated cabin, coffee in one hand and the auto pilot making good the course, dims the fond memories of sailing while cold, wet and wondering when, if at all, the wind would pick up.


Karen Sits on the Foredeck as we leave Glenthorne Passage

The trip over to Telegraph Harbour was uneventful. This was one of the places we visited when we first came to British Columbia in 2004. It’s still owned by the same couple, very nice and friendly Canadians.


Karen at the gateway to the Telegraph Harbour Marina

After a walk to Marilyn’s Kutsina, Howling Wolf Farm Market, and the Golden Pot coffee roaster we launched the dinghy for a trip through “the Cut”. The Cut is a dredged ditch that bisects the island and terminates in Clam Bay. It’s just for very small boats with minimal draft. Not much to see, but something we always wanted to say we had done.

After our return passage through the Cut, we visited the local Thetis Marina Pub for an Okanagan Pale Ale on draft.


The regulars at the Thetis Marina Pub solve the World's problems


Very delightful. Those who live in the Northwest know good beer.


Karen wants me to finish my beer and get going



One of the local residents at the docks




One of our dock neighbors goes aloft to do some work



This is another reason we left the world of sailing.



Our next task is to do some laundry, followed by refilling the water tanks, making dinner and planning what we’re going to do tomorrow. Rough life, eh?















Active Cove to Satellite Cove

Last night the stars were out, but by morning we were greeted with the customary overcast skies. Although open to some wind, affected by currents and open to swells from passing large ships, Active Cove was very pleasant. We lifted anchor and made our way across to Satellite Cove on Stuart Island. As the sun came out, the wind picked up and opposed the current so we traveled in a bit of disturbed seas that were handled well by Arctic Star.

Karen was expecting to see more cruisers in Prevost Harbor, but I think the count was only four when we arrived. And our planned anchorage in Satellite Cove was empty. We dropped anchor in the middle of the cove and got a firm set of the anchor right away.

Then it was time to launch the dinghy and travel over to the county dock. This gave us access to the county road which leads to the Turn Point Light House. A visit to the lighthouse has been on the list for a few years, but the walk from Reid Harbor, the adjacent and more popular anchorage, starts with a hike up 127 steps. From there it is a three mile hike. Our plan, starting at the county dock, is only a 1.5 mile walk.

The county road would be considered somewhat rustic for vehicles, but for walking it was luxurious. Dry, wide and relatively smooth, it made for a pleasant hike.


"The" county road

Along the way we spotted a Cessna 172, with many ominous DANGER AIRCRAFT NO TRESPASSING signs. Of course, being pilots, we were intrigued. Turns out some of the residents have carved out a grass strip through the trees.


Airport carved out among the trees


One of the locals having lunch

The walk to the lighthouse is populated by deer, abandoned cars, a herd of dairy cattle, homes of some of the forty residents of the island and beautiful views overlooking Turn Point. In fact, we found one overlook we liked so well we noted its latitude and longitude so we may return with a picnic lunch in the future.


Lunch spot


The walk is flanked by a stately forest

The lighthouse is active although unmanned and automated. The original lighthouse caretaker’s house, barn and other structures have been restored and it was fun to peek in the windows. The views from the front porch must have been a fair exchange for the isolation of the assignment.


Karen hangs on to the lighthouse


The lighthouse caretaker's house


The view from the front porch of the caretaker's house


Blacktail deer grazing on the front "lawn"


Karen takes a break of the front porch before we head back

With most of the walk back being downhill, the time passed quickly. Along the way we crossed the path of a herd of wild goats. They were more skittish than the native deer. Karen then tried to call the dairy cows over to see her, but her MOO seemed unconvincing to the bovines that were more interested in munching the green stuff and attending to their calves.


"We are not amused"

Back on the boat it was time for me to make my traditional pot of chili. We pack it in multiple containers and it becomes our “easy” microwave meal when more elaborate culinary undertakings are not of interest.


Small duck at sunset

After our hike and kitchen work, we both collapsed into bed not long after sunset.

Bellingham to Active Cove, Patos Island, USA

As expected, we awoke to cloudy skies and rain showers. Those rain showers that only start when you leave the boat and promptly stop when you back inside. The first mission of the day was to return the rental car. Chara, from our charter company, Northwest Explorations arrived promptly at the designed time. That was 8AM, which meant Karen was still asleep. I felt guilty that Chara was being so kind as to follow me to the airport and give me a ride back to the marina on her “day off”.  My guilt was mitigated when she told me there were two of us utilizing her taxi service. Our departure from Bellingham was uneventful; always nice when you’re on a new boat. Although very similar to Discovery, which we have spent the last two seasons chartering, our boat this year, Arctic Star is nonetheless different. It’s a much newer version of a Grand Banks 46. Having spent the first part of its life “down south” things like an air conditioner and tinted windows signal there will be a transition period for this boat to the waters of the Pacific Northwest. Some of the transition has begun with the installation of diesel hot water heat. A must have in these climes.

I think the biggest change for this boat will be going from private ownership to life in a charter fleet. The owner did a shakedown cruise and some items have been addressed and some deferred and some yet undiscovered. Coming from Discovery, which has many years in a charter fleet and had evolved into the consummate charter vessel, Arctic Star still has some metamorphosis to do.

Not all mechanical issues have yet surfaced. We discovered that the forward bilge pump wants to run continuously when left to its own devices. The port stabilizers fin is content to do nothing, leaving its brethren on the starboard side to do all the work. While problems like those may sound major to the uninitiated, they are not unexpected on a “real world” shakedown cruise. Other items that seem trivial can have a great impact on life aboard. For example, this boat must have thirty occasional throw pillows; leaving very little room for the crew and their gear. We have exiled most of ne’er-do-well soft stowaways to the forward berth. Since Karen and I are the only crew, that will do for a two week solution. If we have another couple on board we will all be rearranging the pillows constantly looking for a place to sit or sleep.

So it goes in the life of a charter. We’re making a list for the new owners of things that don’t work and things that will make the stay aboard more pleasant for future charters, of which we count ourselves.

Back to our journey. As we progress out of Bellingham Bay the once foreboding clouds retreated giving way to a glorious day of sun. With unexpected but welcomed weather, we leisurely made our way to Patos Island. A small distinctly shaped island near the U.S. and Canadian border. Karen was worried that we would find the only two mooring balls in Active Cove taken, given that it was the beginning of the weekend. While there were two boats in the Cove when we arrived, neither had opted for either of the mooring balls. So we took the one in deeper water given that a minus two foot tide was predicted for today.

20080607active_cove_panorama_small Active Cove, panorama view

After hooking up and settling in, we launched the dinghy and went exploring on the island.

20080607_rem1011edit Pebble beach at the end of Active Cove

Our goal was to visit the historic lighthouse at the north end of the island. It was an easy hike with wide and flat trails and the last 600 yards on a paved sidewalk, a remnant of the days when the station was manned by the Coast Guard.

20080607_rem0990edit Lighthouse on Patos Island

20080607_rem1020edit Karen stands at the northern most part of the U.S. in the San Juan islands

20080607_rem1024edit2 Survey marker from the Boundry Commission, the U.S.-Canadian border is just north of here in the water

Dinner was simple and after sunset, around 9:15, we fell into bed for a well deserved rest.


Laura Visits the Ponies

It was a beautiful Saturday. Cool yet sunny, not a drop of rain in sight. I had been searching for interesting things to do with Mom, and I came across the Ryerss Farm for Aged Equines in Pottstown, PA. This non-profit organization, founded in 1888, cares for elderly and abused horses. Knowing that Mom grew up on a ranch in Montana and rode horses to school, Bob and I thought a trip to Ryerss might be entertaining for her.


Mom was in great spirits when we picked her up after lunch. I made her bring along an old pair of shoes, knowing that we might be traipsing in muddy areas. She was so curious about why she had to bring those shoes along. We told her we were going somewhere new that was a surprise. She couldn't wait to learn where we were going!

After a nice drive through the countryside, punctuated by commentary from Laura about how pretty and green everything was, we arrived at Ryerss Farm. There were numerous pastures and many horses were plainly in view. As we drove down the winding lane to the main barn, Mom kept saying "Wow!".


Not really knowing what to expect, we got out of the car and entered the barn. Some of the 80+ horses were in their stalls, awaiting some fancy "footwork" by the farrier.


As soon as the horses saw visitors, they started to stick their heads out looking for treats. Mom had absolutely no fear of the horses, knowing exactly how to "pet" them and what to say. She was certainly in her element.


One of the volunteers spent a lot of time with us, walking us out to a nearby paddock and calling over a bunch of horses, introducing each horse and giving us each one's "backstory".


He gave Mom carrots and apples to feed the horses, so she made a lot of equine friends. She was so excited -- she held my hand the whole time but definitely determined where we went (a polite way of saying she was actually dragging me from place to place, she was so excited) and which horses were to get the most attention. She was amazed the horses were so old and yet in such good shape. Each one received detailed scrutiny and commentary. I wasn't sure how much she'd enjoy this trip, but it was a clear winner.


After about an hour on her feet walking on uneven pasture land, she started to get a little tired, so we decided to leave. The most rewarding thing? She looked at us and said "That made me feel young."  I guess you can't ask for higher praise than that!

Enjoy the photos and be sure to visit the link to Ryerss Farm if you want to learn more about the organization and the residents.

Joe Cove to Waddington Bay

Joe Cove turned out to be a nice little anchorage. Our neighbors were gone when I awoke at 7:15 and we hung around till almost eleven before we weighed anchor for a short hop over to Waddington Bay.

During our travels we weaved our way around many small islands and through little passages to get to the entrance to Waddington Bay. That reflects the character of the Broughton Archipelago. It’s peppered with innumerable islands, tree covered to the waterline, steep and falling right into the water. That makes for picturesque travels but not many spots to anchor.   

So Waddington Bay is welcomed. It’s large, well protected and has many nooks and crannies to explore. We arrived shortly after noon expecting to see some boats already anchored. But we had the Bay to ourselves. So off we went in the dinghy to determine what areas would be best to explore in the kayaks at low tide.  


Karen paddleing in Waddington Bay


It wasn’t till we had the kayaks in the water and were climbing in, that one sailboat made its way into Waddington Bay. It was indeed a great place to explore with the kayaks. Karen was able to find some starfish (now properly known as sea stars, since they are not technically fish). I spotted a crab at the waters edge, a rare sight. But the most exciting was a drying passage loaded with Geoducks. The bi-valves spout jets of water into the air making it seems like you’re at the grand fountain at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.  

Geoducks in Action


 Before returning to Discovery, we paddled over to the sailboat to check it out. It was a classic hull but was painted a bright green with a yellow waterline stripe; unusual, but very attractive. We struck up a conversation with the crew, Stephen and Elsie Hulsizer. They left Philadelphia in the seventies and sailed to Seattle via Boston and have made Seattle their home ever since. It turns out that Elsie is the author of Voyages to Windward, a book about sailings on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. The book, it turns out, was one I gave Karen for Christmas last year. We had a pleasant chat with Stephen and Elsie and their cat Jigger, before paddling back to Discovery to settle in for a quite night in Waddington Bay.