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....

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