After spending a few days in Ganges on Salt Spring Island, it was time to push off again and do some sailing! We left the dock early (a very relative term for us these days) and motored our way through the crab pot jungle, enjoying the view of the Chain Islands as we left Ganges Harbour. In my mind, this really is one of the prettiest of the busy harbours in the Gulf Islands. The many little islands and the high hills on Salt Spring island make for some great scenery.
We left the harbour, made a left turn to head further northwest, then hoisted the sails. It’s always a great moment of AHHHH when the sails are up and the engine gets turned off. Don’t get me wrong, we LOVE our wonderful Yanmar engine, but it’s so nice when we switch from being a motorboat to a sailing vessel once again. The winds were only in the 7 or 8 knot range, but we still zipped along under sunny skies doing an easy 7 knots most of the time. Happy Dance loves to sail and she is a well balanced boat, even with all those cans in the bilge! We will be getting two new sails next week, so we’re really excited to get those up and flying. Sailing, sailing, over the bounding Tricomali Channel…hmm…wrong lyrics I guess!
As we made our way toward De’Courcy Island, long, skinny Galiano Island was off our starboard beam (The cliffs on Galiano always remind me of the Death Star in Star Wars.).
And before we know it we’re there – Pirate’s Cove. Unfortunately we arrived at low low tide, which meant we couldn’t get in! A smaller sailboat (less draft), came out and as we spoke to him he said that the channel had shifted some over the winter so it was shallower than on our charts which already showed a skinny 5 feet! We draw 6.5 feet; nuff said!
We headed out into the bay a little ways, turned off the engine and floated. By this time the winds had completely died, so it was calm and warm and as nice a place as any to sit and watch the tide come in. After a couple hours, it was time to test out the depth sounder. We’d been watching the water level rise on the cement marker that guards the channel entrance, so we knew we had an additional 2-3 feet of water. The entrance is kind of unique too, in that you line up an X on the shore with a white painted arrow below it, so that you know you’re in line between the rocks; a poor mans version of range markers! Then when you are abeam of the cement mark, you make a 90 degree turn into the narrow channel and slow waaaaay down to give yourself time to reverse if necessary! We made it through with a couple feet to spare, headed to the center of the Cove and dropped anchor – home!
The first night was a bit bumpy with a Northwest wind blowing right into the Cove, but after that night it settled down nicely. We hiked and kayaked and picnicked, and rowed around in the dinghy, and investigated the sandstone caves along the beach, and watch all the antics of our friendly neighborhood menagerie! Otters crunching on crabs, seals splashing, geese honking, eagles squeaking and chirping, pigeon guillemots flapping crazily, loons looning, raccoons hunting on the beach, pirates playing, the list goes on and on!
At one point we saw a couple of raccoons running down the beach right toward me; well I hate raccoons (from my experiences at The Blue Goose Inn…long story), so I thought I’d better get out of their way! Luckily I had on my water shoes, so I just waded out into the water in case they were really headed for me. As it turned out one was just chasing the other away, and then they both went tumbling off the rocks into the water fighting and growling all the way; what a riot! Later that day we saw two otters fighting too; it must be mating season or something…they sure sound fierce though!
Next stop, Ladysmith! We had been to the other larger Gulf Island town on Vancouver Island a couple years back and had heard good things about Ladysmith so we thought we’d investigate. Turns out it’s not as fun as Chemainus which we really enjoyed, but we spent a couple afternoons wandering around town and seeing the “sights”, enjoyed unlimited hot water showers, then prepared to head back to Montague Harbour. Our destination was actually Blaine, but we wanted to situate ourselves close to Active Pass so that we could easily time the trip through the pass on our way across the strait to Blaine.
Active Pass is aptly named for the frequent and speedy passage of the British Columbia ferries, which are the size of small cruise ships. The pass itself is narrow and winding, so you can’t see the ships until they are practically on top of you, plus there is a pretty good current when the tides are changing. We timed it just right though, so we entered the pass at slack tide, following behind a ferry, and then the tide turned so that it was pushing us through. We zipped through, only to see another ferry about to enter the pass as we were heading out…perfect!
After motoring 15 miles across the strait, we finally neared Semiahmoo Bay; the wind was now blowing about 10-15 on our nose, the rain was pouring and it was cold! We found ourselves in the midst of about 40 sailboats in a sailing regatta that was just finishing up, so for a little excitement we shared the Marina entrance with plenty of other boats. We pulled into a slip, tied up Happy Dance and went below to warm up! As I’m writing this now, the sun is out, the wind has died and we’ve enjoyed a nice walk to town.
Our next adventure involves this last photo….stay tuned for next week’s saga of the further adventures of Marty and Sue!!!