Wednesday, July 8, 2015

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

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