Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Sidney Spit to Port Townsend via Roche Harbour and Garrison Bay

July 29 to August 3

Our week in Victoria passed quickly.  We were able to catch up with our good friends who live there and they spoiled us.  




Sid and Angie
We are so fortunate to have them in our lives and we will miss them when we are away.  Sometimes we ask ourselves why we are leaving behind so much?  Are we pursuing a foolish dream?  I am yet unable to honestly articulate our true reasons for this adventure, but intuitively I know it is the right thing for us to do.  For once in our lives we don’t have to have a concrete plan – everything is open ended - an enormous freedom and a great privilege. 

On our first day in Victoria we unpacked the bicycles and followed the Galloping Goose Trail almost to Sooke – about 45 kilometres.  Like Vancouver, Victoria has taken great strides to encourage cycling.  The Galloping Goose has actually been in existence for a number of years and on several occasions we have visited the city from Comox and brought our bikes with us to do these trails.  Originally railway beds, the Goose extends from downtown Victoria, through Sooke and on to the mountains beyond.  Another branch weaves its way all the way to Sidney at the end of the Saanich Peninsula.  There is also a connection that winds back through Esquimalt.  Many kilometres are paved and the rest is hard packed gravel – excellent for cycling.  

Galloping Goose

Additionally, there are bicycle routes throughout the city streets making commuting and getting around by bicycle extremely safe. 

On another day, we visited the Royal BC Museum.  The travelling exhibit this summer is The Gold Rush in BC: El Dorado.  

Associated with this interesting display, which demonstrates gold’s connection to a variety of world cultures, is an IMAX documentary about gold prospecting in the modern age in the Yukon and how it is valued in other parts of the world – not so much for its promise of riches, as it is for its beauty and esthetic, as well as its elusive quality.  I had just finished reading The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton, set in the 1860’s New Zealand gold rush, so I was especially interested in viewing it.  In my Social Studies classes I taught students about the various gold rushes around the world.  For many, there is some kind of visceral attraction to gold – for those seek it, and for those who are fascinated by those who seek it. 

Ka'sala at busy Wharf Street docks

We left Victoria on the falling tide on Wednesday  morning (29/7) – happy to continue on our voyage, but we could have easily stayed longer in Victoria.  Both of us were feeling a little melancholy knowing our days in Canada were drawing to a close.  

Lyneita in front of the Empress

Leaving on a falling tide is amazing.  We retraced our route around the Trial Islands and this time, instead of following the shoreline inside the reefs at Oak Bay, we continued around the Discovery Islands as well.  What a ride!  At one point, although motoring at 5 knots, our speed over ground was over 10 knots!  We tried to sail, but the winds became so light the sails could not be filled, though the boat was pushed along by the current at close to 5 knots.  When we lost steerage, we packed it in and fired up the engine.  The sea that had bucked and heaved us into Victoria the week before was now as docile as a lamb.  Flat calm, no wind, warm sunshine, we African Queened our way to Sidney Spit, dropping the anchor in an 8 metre pot hole.  We will stay here for a few days, eating up our fresh produce and meat and trying to get our alcohol down to importable quantities.   Fun!!

Ka'sala at Sidney Spit

We launched the kayaks, paddled over to the federal park dock and went ashore at Sidney Spit. 

History of Sidney Spit

There is a lovely trail that winds itself through a tenting campsite, continues over a wide field and into a forested area.  Over the last century and a half, the island has been logged (though some old growth still remains), become a hunting destination for the rich of Victoria and a brickworks.  Evidence of the latter still remain as broken bricks are littered around the campsite and along the waterfront where the factory used to be, guarded over by a large colony of purple martins.  There is still evidence of clay excavation in dimpled fields.  Now, the island lies dormant, the home of deer and natural vegetation experiments.

 We circled round the trails and walked down to the beach facing San Juan Island which runs all the way to the end of the Spit and around to the anchorage.  The next day, I went ashore at low tide and followed this line of beach, marvelling at the abundant birdlife and gorgeous natural vistas.  I had it all to myself.

Sidney Spit - Mount Baker in the background
Sun sets on our last night in Canada
After three nights, we left this idyllic spot and motored across to Roche Harbour, San Juan Island, U.S.A.   There was no wind and the temperatures continued high, though the water averaged about 14 degrees.  Leaving the Spit at 8:30, we crossed a shifting sandbar with a 1.8 meters of water below us.  The passage was marked by strong currents, ripples and whirls.  The tidal flow changes back/forth and sideways all the way across.  At times it was with us, times against us, and times neutral up to 4 knots– no doubt affected by the full moon – which, in fact, would be a blue moon that evening. 

Blue Moon at Garrison Bay, San Juan Island
We cleared into US Customs in Roche Harbour at their designated docks at 10:30.  The officers were very harried and on edge, trying to sort through many boats, most of them Americans returning from trips to Canada.  We tried to obtain our cruising license, but were told they were too busy to do it.  However, not so busy that we were boarded by agricultural inspectors who wanted to see what foods we had with us.  They confiscated grapefruit and lemon – I knew citrus was not allowed, but thought if I peeled it I might get away with it.  No such luck.  I also had to forfeit tomatoes.  Interestingly, I had searched the internet for information on what food was not allowed into the US and found some information, but it wasn’t very detailed.  The inspector gave me a detailed pamphlet that I would have loved to have had before entering and would have appreciated it if I could have found it online.

After checking in, we motored around to Garrison Bay and dropped the hook in 5 meters in time for lunch.  We expected it to be quiet after Roche Harbour.  We remembered Paul and Becky, aboard their Jason 35, Zafo, telling us that they had it almost to themselves for a few days before they met up with us on our return cruise in 2011.  We were astonished by the number of boats of all sizes, power and sail, all over the area.  

Circling the "wagons"!
Within Garrison Bay there appeared to be at least two yacht clubs having rendezvous, as well as many others – all at anchor.  This came as quite a culture shock after the quiet anchorages of Canada!

When we were motoring in, I noticed what looked like a - surprise, surprise – garrison, at the foot of the bay.  We launched the kayaks to investigate and discovered “English Camp”. 

We were in ours bathing suits, so not really dressed for hiking and exploring, but we did foray a ‘ways in and wished we could have explored further and taken the walking trail.  Next time, I guess.

History of English Camp

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