Saturday, July 25, 2015

Victoria - July 23

I am sitting in the cockpit watching all the activity in the busy harbour of Victoria.  Floatplanes seem to take off and land every 15 minutes, so there is the constant burr of their propellers and the smell of kerosene fills the air.  The Victoria Clipper from Seattle off loads its passengers and the Coho from Port Angeles does the same.  Little harbour foot passenger ferries toot importantly back and forth and in the background I can hear the hoots of the crowd cheering on the latest busker performance in the parking lot behind us.  Kayaks, paddleboards and dinghies dodge all the larger water craft as the setting sun shimmers across the confused waters. 

We are surrounded by large powerboats, none with Canadian flags.  In fact, we are currently the only transient sailboat at the Wharf Street docks and, as far as we can tell, the only Canadians. 

Victoria Harbour

We arrived yesterday from Vancouver, via Sydney Spit.  The Salish Sea crossing was uneventful – we sailed on a close reach at about 5 knots all the way across.  It is a tricky passage to plan from Vancouver, as to get into the Gulf Islands, the boat must transit through one of 5 passes – all areas where the state of the tide must be taken into careful consideration before the passage can be made, as the water can flow through very quickly.   If you wish to sail from Vancouver, you cannot predict the constancy of the wind – both in terms of direction and speed, or the state of the sea, so you can only work out a “ballpark” time to arrive at one of these passes, each with their own peculiarities.  A series of decisions have to be made en route and, lucky for us, we were able to make Porlier Pass without too much difficulty and slid through an hour before slack tide with two knots behind us.  We expected no wind on the other side, but were delighted by a steady 10 - 15 knot breeze from the South which we tacked through to arrive at Sydney Spit in the early evening. 

After a peaceful night we continued into Haro Strait – under power and into an increasing wind on our nose.  The tide was with us, but when the rising seas built against it we found ourselves in steep, choppy, confused seas which had poor Ka’sala dancing and weaving among the washing machine whitecaps.  However, once we turned the corner at Trial Islands, after Oak Bay, the wind became more favourable and we were able to roll out the jib and sail happily to the entrance of Victoria Harbour.  We were tied to the dock in time for a late lunch.

We are tied right under the "F" in Wharf Street

We will stay here for at least a week and, as we did in Vancouver, our intent is to catch up with friends, do as much bicycling and walking as we can.  We hope to go to the Royal BC museum to see “Gold Rush: El Dorado in BC” and the IMAX film associated with it.  And, of course, one or two pubs along the way....

Vancouver - July 13 - 21

Our week in Vancouver was wonderful – so busy, in fact that I could not keep up with the blog – so much to see and do!  And, of course, the weather was excellent – warm and sunny – perfect to be out and about and hang out in the cockpit.  The only downside was the starlings – who also thought it was great to be out and about – especially when there were so many ripe blackberries to pluck.  They delighted on eating their fill, then congregating on our spreaders to gossip and expel purple poop all over our boat!  Oh for a slingshot, an air pistol, a water bomber – I went from personal affront to stoic acceptance over the days and it wasn’t until we reached Victoria that we were able to finally clean it all off.  Note:  “30 Seconds” takes blackberry poop stains out instantly.  It doesn’t work well on the pits – that requires water – did I mention we are on water shortages with all this dry weather?

While in Vancouver, we were able to connect with good friends and delighted in catching up with their news and enjoying their company.  


Linda, Judy and Nora

We also spent a good deal of time on our bicycles.  Vancouver has come a long way in making the city a great place to ride.  

Vancouver Cycling Routes
On our first day we rode a circuit from the Yacht Club along English Bay, through the Lagoon Park, to the Convention Centre, then back around the outside of Stanley Park, and under the Lion’s Gate Bridge.  On another day, we headed to Kitsilano, Jericho Beach all the way along the shore to UBC, then back through the centre of the city on quiet back streets designated for bicycles.  Each time we went out, we took the long way around False Creek. 

Downtown Vancouver Cycling Routes
The Burrard Street Bridge now has two designated bike lanes for crossing with easy access to and from the streets below. 

One of two designated cycling lane on the Burrard Street Bridge

 On yet another day, we rode to the downtown core to have brunch at one of our favourite restaurants, Scuzzi's and felt secure in designated bike lanes with curbs on busy core, downtown streets.  
An example of how bicycle routes have been incorporated into city streets

We felt the entire city was safely accessible on our bikes and, over the course of our stay, we were able to use them for recreation, to go shopping, to go to the pub, a restaurant or a show.  Everywhere we went there were designated bicycle stands, many secured. 

Doug at Scuzzi's - their famous Eggs Benedict

We bicycled to two Shakespearean plays at Bard on the Beach.

Bard on the Beach - Kitsilano
 Love’s Labour's Lost was set in Chicago during the 1920’s prohibition period.  The dialogue was Shakespearean, but at any given moment an actor would break out in a Jazz standard from the era – such as Ain’t Misbehavin’, 5 foot 2, Eyes of Blue, etc.  It was perfectly delightful and worked amazingly well.

You get the idea
Bard on the Beach has two stages, and we watched this play in the smaller of the two.  As we walked in, one of the actors, dressed as a flapper, handed us a glass of pink “champagne”.  Other actors walked around in character, dressed as gangsters and flozzies,  asking us “how ya doin’?” in smoozy accents.  During the play, the actors would come into the audience and invite a viewer to dance, or talk to them as if they were actually part of the play.  It was a charming, intimate performance.

Love's Labor's Lost
The second play we saw was Comedy of Errors – this time performed on the larger, main stage, but by the same troupe of actors as was in Love’s Labour's Lost

Comedy of Errors
This play was done in “Steam Punk” – a weird and wacky futuristic Victorian Industrial setting with lots of machinery, strange and provocative costumes, and an insane plot line involving two sets of twins. 
Set for Comedy of Errors

A person cannot go to Vancouver without visiting Granville Island and, for us, it was a short dinghy ride away. 
Arial View of Granville Market - I parked the dinghy at the docks in the forground
Wonderful produce - but expensive!
 In the summertime it is absolutely crammed with tourists, but that didn’t prevent us from finding a little distillery that produces gin, vodka and whiskey.

We went in for a tasting and liked their Endeavour Gin so much we bought a bottle.  Liberty Distillery describes it as “...a compelling London dry gin made with 10 savoury botanicals on a solid juniper base”.  Wonderful.


Endeavor wins

Another great find at the market was Oyama Sausage Company – an amazing charcuterie  loaded with countless varieties of sausages, pates, smoked meats and cheeses, pickles, meat filled pastries, etc.  
Pate samplings at Oyama

 It took me forever to make up my mind as I wanted to buy a little bit of everything.  In the end I indulged in a sampling of duck/truffle pate, a venison/cranberry pate, blueberry/bison sausage, lamb/cumin sausage, a British pot pie and some special cured ham – what a feast!  Here is their website if you want to know more:

Needless to say, a week passed very quickly, but it was time to move on.  On Tuesday, July 21, we departed the False Creek Yacht Club for Victoria.

Goodbye Vancouver - Burrard Street Bridge in background

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Pender Harbour to Vancouver - July 13 

We enjoyed ourselves at Pender Harbour Days.  On the Friday evening there was a boat parade and water craft of all kinds showed up to participate.  A beautifully restored fish boat carried a group of pipers who led the procession around the bays and coves of the harbour.  Row boats, dragon boats, sailboats, fish boats, classic runabouts, etc. fell in line behind.  

Piping the Parade - Pender Harbour Days

Dragon Boat - Pender Harbour Days
Hand built classic wooden boats

Lovingly restored troller

We left Pender Harbour July 11 on a forecast of southeast winds 5 - 15 knots, but as usually happens, the weatherman didn't quite get it right.  We ended up moto-beating into the wind and into the tide for most of the way to Gibsons.  We saw 24 knots of wind speed, but it averaged about 20.  Ka'sala handled herself well and, with the exception of the occasional hobby horsing in the choppy seas and a rain shower or two, the crew was comfortable as well.  It took 8 hours to go 30 nautical miles.

We stayed at the Public dock in Gibsons.  This is a well equipped, very busy place - a collection of commercial fish boats, live-a-boards and transients.  We were lucky to find a spot.  Soon as we sorted out Ka'sala we headed out to explore.  The tiny village along the seafront is very touristy with lots of gift shops and cafes.  Of course, it is most famous for the long running TV series The Beachcombers, are there is plenty of paraphernalia from that show to satisfy anyone.

Everything you wanted to know about The Beachcombers but were afraid to ask!

Love that Town Site Breweries Tin Hat IPA!
We had pretty good fish and chips and GREAT Townsite craft beers at Molly's Reach.  While we were there several Canadian navy vessels arrived - 2 training cadets and two dive boats - for some shore leave.

Canadian Navy Vessels

We were up early the next morning and were rewarded with a classic, lovely sail all the way to Vancouver.  Flat seas 10 to 15 knots and sunny skies - we even flew our drifter all the way down English Bay.  We are now tied to the dock at the False Creek Yacht Club who have generously reciprocated our Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club membership.  We will be here until Monday, July 20th before heading to Victoria.  While here we intend to catch up with friends, do a great deal of bicycling, see some Bard on the Beach and generally have fun in one of our favourite cities.

Sailing into Vancouver

Ka'sala's Berth at the False Creek Yacht Club -Granville Street Bridge and Market in background

Friday, July 10, 2015

Pender Harbour

As I write this, we have been in Pender Harbour since Sunday, July 5.

Arial View of Pender Harbour (taken from Pender Harbour & Egmont 2015 Visitor Guide) 

We spent three days at peaceful anchor in Garden Bay surrounded by large powerboats and the occasional sailboat.  At least 50% of them fly American flags and seem to use this harbour as a transit point for travelling north to Desolation Sound or back south to the more populous areas.  Some of them are massive with topsides high enough to watch movies on!  Culture shock!  We took the dinghy to Madeira dock, which is a short way from a well stocked IGA and liquor store, to re-provision.

Ka'sala at Garden Bay 

We went ashore at Garden Bay Provincial Park and walked up the road to freshwater Garden Bay Lake, then back to the pub for a cold one, vowing we would return the next day for a swim.  We did – numerous times – the lake is clean, warm and refreshing – not too wide, with a resting bench on the other side. 

Swimming Hole at Garden Bay Lake

Swimming Bench at Garden Bay Lake
On the third day we moved over to the public dock at Madeira Park where we have great WiFi and showers (though no laundry).  I have been able to catch up with friends, family and the blog and Doug has been able to connect on line as well.  The dock is very quiet for this time of year and very peaceful.  
Ka'sala at the Madeira Park docks

Today we put together the bicycles and went for a vigourous, hilly ride through the Francis Peninsula admiring the many gorgeous homes and fabulous views to be found there. 

Lovely View from Baker's Beach Provincial Park

Navigating by Smartphone
Each day the smoke has cleared more and more.  Today we even have blue sky.  However, the winds are predicted to come from the southeast the next couple days, so we may just stay here as we are enjoying it so much.  This weekend is Pender Harbour Days with all sorts of events scheduled from music to markets.  We don’t have to be anywhere until the second week in August when we are expected in Port Townsend to do our re-rigging.  

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Escape to Pender Harbour - July 5

We were three nights in the Harmony Islands and would have gladly stayed longer.  We continued to have the cove to ourselves, swam in the warm water multiple times a day, kayaked to the falls and lounged in the cockpit.  However, on Sunday morning we woke to an orange glow permeating the boat and a smoke surrounding us.  When Doug looked out he saw that Ka’sala was covered with black soot and ash – what a mess!  The day before we had noticed smoke on a far mountainside, and later discovered that a forest fire had taken hold near Sechelt, making its way up the inlet.  In addition, two more huge forest fires raged unchecked in the Pemberton area.  We thought we might get out of the smoke closer to the coast, but as we neared Pender Harbour it became apparent that the smoke was everywhere.  We later learned on the radio that the smoke was dense over the entire coast from Vancouver and Victoria to Port Hardy and the Broughtons.  Because of fires in the Port Alberni area, the west coast of Vancouver Island was also under a smokey cloud.  There would be no escape.

What we woke up to - the mountain in the smoke is the same one you can see in the picture below of our anchorage

Fuzzy shot, but you can clearly see the ash

On the way to Pender Harbour - weird morning light - straight out of a science fiction novel
There was also no wind so we motored down to Pender Harbour arriving late morning.  After anchoring in Garden Bay, we pulled out the buckets and washed down the boat in salt water.  The black soot was greased on to everything, but came off relatively easily.  We had all the portlights and hatches open that night, so we had some cleaning to do inside the boat as well.  Meanwhile, a smoky haze and a blood orange sun settled around the harbour as big powerboats gradually surrounded us.  According to weather reports, the wind will come back in a day or two, but no rain in sight.  It is hard to know how long this smoky world will last.

Smokey Sunset over Pender Harbour

Family, Bicycles and Kayaks 

My family still lives in Ontario and I went home in April for a good visit.  My Dad had passed away last year and I wanted to be able to spend some quality time with my Mom before we left.  I had been making it home twice a year for the last few years and was not sure when I would be able to get back again.  Lucky for us, my Mom is good with computers, so when I can’t visit, we email and FaceTime on a regular basis.  Last summer we bought a Pactor Modem and I was able to communicate with her every day when Ka’sala was out of WiFi or cell range.  In addition to my Mom, I was fortunate to see my brother, sister and their families, as well as my aunt and cousins.  It was a great visit.

We now carry two folding bicycles and two kayaks aboard Ka’sala.  On our last cruise we really felt tied to the boat.  Walking everywhere, carrying provisions and laundry, was time consuming and tiring.  The bicycles will provide transportation and the kayaks will allow us to explore our various anchorages more thoroughly - with the added bonus of providing much needed exercise.



We bought the kayaks before our first cruise around Vancouver Island.  They are inexpensive, 10 foot Costco specials, that we have paddled so much we have almost worn them out! Stable and light-weight they are easy to manage and use.  Last summer we replaced the plastic paddles with lighter carbon fibre ones which have enhanced our experience.  We hardly anchor anywhere without launching the little boats and poking around.  They ride side by side on Ka’sala’s coach roof on nifty stands that Doug made - inspired by our friend C.A..  You will have seen several pictures of them in the previous post.

Last Christmas, after much research, we bought two Dahon Mu P8s from JV Bikes in Vancouver.  Originally I had considered Dahon’s Mariner model, but when we saw the gears, brakes, etc of the Mu P8, we decided to upgrade.  Both bikes are aluminum, but both Doug and I are experienced riders who like to go longer distances and expect a more technical ride, so the upgrade has proved to be worth it.  They tuck away in our quarter berth and we don't even know they are there.

Picnic on Savary Island - without the bicycles we never would have got there.

Van Anda, Texada Island   June 30 to July 2

When we arrived in Van Anda, we planned to kayak the whole  bay.  Van Anda is the name of the village, which dates back to the 19th century in a time of mining bonanzas.  Marble, gold, copper, limestone and other minerals and metals are still taken from the island.  Van Anda sits in a two pronged bay – one cove called Marble Bay and the other Sturt Bay.  The water is extremely deep and the Texada Island Boating Club has conveniently built floating docks for themselves and visitors to tie up at reasonable rates.  As we toured the bays we could see many examples of past activities – remains of old wharves, logging stays, cement works and brick works.  Today, Van Anda is a lovely little community of tidy houses with large gardens.  Their museum is a testament to how much they value their island’s past.

Van Anda floating docks in background
The second day at Van Anda we unpacked the bicycles and headed for Shelter Point Regional Park just past Gillies Bay on the other side of the island.  In 30 degree heat we rode the bikes up and down hills to reach this idyllic spot with spectacular views across the Straits where the Comox Glacier stands out as enormous.

Shelter Point - Comox Glacier in the background across the Straits

It was Canada Day and the locals were making ready to celebrate the occasion with live music and games for the kids.  We stretched our legs by walking down the crescent shingle beach, admiring the views and enjoying the laughter of children as they paddled around in the chilly water.

Shingle Beach at Shelter Point
The round trip was about 28 kilometres, round trip, and we were pretty sweaty by the time we returned to the docks.  We had a bracing swim and a “dock” shower which really cooled us off.  We were sorry to leave early the next day as we could have explored more and enjoyed the quiet harbour, but knew we would be back another day.

Ka'sala at the dock at Van Anda - notice the dinghy kayak configuration on coach roof

From Van Anda to Harmony Islands, Hotham Sound:  July 2 - 5

The good winds were predicted to continue and we were looking forward to a downwind sleigh ride to the mouth of Jervis Inlet.  We weren’t disappointed.  Doug was able to use his new whisker pole for the second time and found it to be just the way he had hoped.  Our old one had been a telescoping one and was heavy and easy to break, fragile, as well as awkward, to use.  Doug had researched and found a source for a carbon fibre pole in the United States.  He had it shipped to Port Townsend and we picked it up in January this year when we dropped our sails off at Carol Hasse’s to be reconditioned.  Our Dutch friend, Valdy, on Talagoa, gave us the fittings from a pole he had replaced.  Our new pole is 2 ½ inches (interior) and 14 feet long.  Doug spray-painted it with Endura to give it a smoother finish and to protect it from UV rays.  He also had to add another length to the track.  It was finicky and fussy work that took some time to figure out, but the end result he feels was worth it.
This is a terrible photo of the pole attached to the mast, but the only one I have at the moment.  I will update this picture at a later date
By the time we rounded the entrance to Jervis Inlet, wing on wing, the wind was blowing close to 30 knots and the coast guard had come on the VHF with a gale warning.  Fifteen minutes later everything had calmed down.  We continued on up the inlet, but the wind started to die.  Doug raised the drifter and dropped the mainsail and we glided along with the drifter and jib wing on wing.  When the wind rose again, we were able to quickly douse the drifter and continue on to our anchorage in the Harmony Islands under poled jib alone making over five knots.

Doug has a real talent, not only on the sewing machine, but being able to visualize and invent patterns for a variety of projects around the boat.  For example, we had always struggled with the drifter bag which was forever spilling out the sail and awkward to store.  Doug created a square bag made from Sunbrella to house the drifter with a zipper system for attaching it to the forward lifelines. Its square shape and sturdy fabric make it easier to manage and store both above decks and below.

Drifter Bay attached to lifelines on foredeck

We arrived in the Harmony Islands about 3:30 and stern-tied in little Kipling Cove.  There was only one other boat there – a large motor yacht anchored in the channel.  When we had beent here two years ago on our way back from visiting Princess Louisa Inlet there had been about 10 boats dispersed among these tiny islets.  This time we would have the Cove to ourselves. 

Ka'sala through the "Gap" into Kipling Cove
There are several islands that make up the Harmony group.  The largest one is a marine park accessible to the public, but the rest are private.  There were signs posted on the private islands around Kipling Cove which state: “no stern ties” but in Canada, private property only extends to the high tide line.   We legally and safely tied to a barnacle encrusted rock which was submerged for part of the day.  While kayaking, we noticed a real estate sign and discovered the private islands are for sale for just under a million dollars – what price paradise?
Harmony Island Group - we were anchored in the central cove (picture by

The very hot weather continued and our first evening, after supper, we launched the kayaks for a relaxing evening cruise at high tide.  As we sat in the cockpit we could hear the constant call, song, chit and chatter of many types of birds.  The steep mountain side rose up out of the water behind us, a long cascade of water fell from Freil Lake above, and the old growth forest shimmered in the early evening sun.  It is remote, and as the dying rays of a red sun crossed the sky, a blanket of quiet so profound descended upon us.  No cell phone and no WiFi – at home in nature.

Friel Falls near Harmony Islands