We departed Port McNeill on Monday, 8/29 with blue skies and calm winds. Timing the currents in this run down Johnstone Strait so that they were favorable (or at least not horribly adverse) pushed us towards mid-day travel rather than our preferred morning hours.
Our destination for the night was Port Harvey on Cracroft Island. While in Johnstone Strait and approaching the turn-off for Port Harvey, we saw ahead what we first thought was a sea lion cruising by but turned out to be a black bear swimming across Johnstone Strait from Vancouver Island to Cracroft Island. We’ve seen bears swimming across channels in Alaska and BC before but this one was paddling across waters that are frequented by orca (i.e., killer whales). The orca here are probably focused on the migrating salmon but there could be the odd-ball whale that might want to expand its diet a bit.
The next morning, again because of the current timing, we didn’t leave the anchorage until about 10 AM. While waiting, we watched some of the migratory fowl paddle by. While mostly Canadian geese, we did see a lovely pair of Trumpeter swan. According to Wikipedia, they are the heaviest living native bird in North American. Seeing them next to a Canadian goose, the size difference is striking (forgot to take a picture).
While we hit Race Passage exactly at slack (or more precisely, “slack-ish”), our timing at Seymour Narrows was early. Rather that jetting through with 7+ knots of current we killed an hour by checking out Small Inlet in Kanish Bay on Quadra Island. We still had 5+ knots of current boosting us through Seymour and got twisted and turned by boils and whirlpools that extend for a mile or two downstream of the narrow section. We joined several other boats in Gowlland Harbor for the night.
The next day we slogged our way south down the Strait of Georgia and anchored in Northwest Harbour about 10 miles north of Nanaimo. It is well protected from the SE winds that were blowing at the time.
An early start got us to Dodd Narrows about a half-hour after slack but fortunately it was the slack before the ebb. We scooted through in no time and made our way to Montague Harbour on Galliano Island. The presence of a marina, with restaurant and store serving ice cream, and a BC Provincial park, with a grass field for ball play, made it an attractive destination for all onboard. We spent three nights here.
Continuing our leisurely cruise style, on Labor Day, 9/5, we traveled 11 miles to Lyall Harbour on Saturna Island. We’ve often used this anchorage as our jumping off point for a short hop across to US waters, but in all those times we never taken the dinghy over to the public dock in Lyall Harbour and gone to the pub just above the dock. We enjoyed a delightful lunch on an outside and dog-friendly deck with a view of Plumper Sound.
The next morning we made and even shorter 4-1/2 mile trip to Port Browning Marina on North Pender Island. Our yacht club designates Port Browning as a satellite outstation and we are able to moor at a reduced rate. It too has a pub with an outside deck. It also serves ice cream in its onsite store and has ample fields in which we could engage in ball play with Drake. Once again, everyone is happy.
In the small world category, while in Port Browning, we met Chris and Sandy who own the classic Diesel Duck Moken which is in Langkawi, Malaysia. On account Covid they have not visited their boat for two years. They were on the boat when Covid first became an epidemic and spent several months on board and not able to cruise anywhere before being able to return to their home in Canada on Pender Island.
We finally made the return to the US on 9/8, anchoring briefly in Roche Harbor in order to go to shore, mail an oil sample for analysis taken during the oil change in Port McNeill, get ice cream and play with Drake in the local dog park. After those “chores”, we continued on to Garrison Bay for two nights. The English Camp National Historical Park is situated on Garrison Bay and has a dinghy dock giving shore access to several miles of trails. One of the trails goes to the Westcott Bay Shellfish Company which, during the summer months, has a restaurant serving lunch. Not surprisingly, oysters are featured on the menu. Marcia did a excellent job of shucking a half-dozen raw oysters of the dozen oysters we ate.
Our penultimate cruising destination was Deer Harbor on Orcas Island. Our yacht club leases dock space at the Deer Harbor Marina and we ended up having that space to ourselves for three nights. The rest of the marina, however, was quite busy and we watched boats come and go. One of the boats that arrived was the “older sister” ship to ours, “Umiak.” The owners, Ann & Jim, purchased it from the first owner about three years ago. They live in Minnesota but the boat stays in Sidney, about ten or so miles north of Victoria, BC.
We took the final leg of our summer cruise on Tuesday, 9/13 and crossed, with generally favorable currents, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, plodded down Admiralty Inlet, and found our way into Eagle Harbor. We were secured to the dock where the boat will spend the winter with the engine off at 1845.
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