Dawn in Ganges

The next day we ventured out to pastures new. We headed along uninspiring Raymond’s Passage with poor visibility and constant rain. Southerly gusts picked up the sea and we had a rolly entry into Thompson Bay, our next anchorage. Turning the corner into the bay, our vista improved enormously. The sea calmed down and by the time we anchored the surface hardly rippled only spotted from the rain. Weather predictions suggested that we were going to get similar gusts and more rain for a few days, therefore we would stay put and crab during the dry spells. There was evidence of crab pots close by so we chanced our luck, this time with herrings as we’d run out of fish heads! No luck on the crabbing stakes.

Hesitantly we headed out into the Pacific which had calmed down considerably. We weren’t keen to retrace our trip along Raymond Passage but instead meandered between rocky hazards into stunning Hunter Passage. What a contrast to the previous passage, the scenery surrounding us was constantly causing us to say “Wow”. Eventually we headed into Lama Passage and anchored alone in charming Fancy Cove. An overnighter here rested us for a longish passage under sun to Joe’s Bay, another wonderful spot, almost landlocked and completely alone. We were gearing ourselves up for protection against a predicted southerly blow and eventually venturing south. 

Joe’s Bay was tranquil, the silence was palpable except for the whoosh of a Raven’s beating wings. Elizabeth Lagoon was just over 2nm away via a series of rapids which books suggest you can traverse. Taking M to the entrance at the correct time we could visibly see the ledge with the  boiling water pouring over the hazards. There was no way we were that brave or stupid, we watched in awe at the power of water and then returned to Amelie making plans to up anchor immediately and beat the coming strong wind warning, due to be building the following day. 

We had a short but lovely sail with the Pacific Ocean on the west and craggy rocks and islets on the east of us. Entering some of these protective anchorages takes 100% concentration but your senses are drenched in the beauty of the area. Meandering around rocks, motoring through narrow, shallow passages brought us into the large Millbrook Cove, once again not another vessel in sight. One low front after another low front kept us anchored in the bay for six days but this waiting game was enhanced by S/V Felix stealthily motoring in with Ann, John and Hercules the Yorkiepoo on board. They had experienced the vile force of the sea before aborting and needing sanctuary our bay. We quickly became the caretakers of the cove and spent many an evening with one another. They kindly allowed us to use their starlink to download weather and keep in contact with the outside world. They were fun company and we were delighted when they decided to follow us to Port Hardy. Primarily we had come to Port Hardy to provision for the next week or so but for the first time we tried out a local bar “Sporty Bar and Grill” and their fish tacos were some of the best Debbie has ever had, crammed packed full of freshly caught halibut, with a fiery pineapple salsa…..delicious.

Plans alter all the time but we were prisoners of a deadline, one of the most dangerous and generally avoided things on board Amelie. We had lost our heating and the one person we trusted to fix this issue was working out of Victoria/Sidney. We now needed to get to Ryan on the allocated date.

Typically sailing isn’t always plain sailing and we picked up reports of two low fronts about to collide with one another out in the Pacific, causing hurricane force winds on the west coast and up to 40kt winds in our area. Whilst it was calm we motored for two long days to get as far south before the nasty weather set in, to give us a shot at rendezvousing with Ryan. We anchored in protected Thurston Cove ( where Dave and Stephen caught loads of massive Dungeness crabs) and kept busy with inside boat chores and crabbing.

When the wind abated and the skies turned blue we headed further south into the Gulf Islands only to be welcomed by a pod of Orcas. We had managed to get a space in Sidney Marina and while we waited for Ryan, we top charged the batteries and blitzed the boat. Ryan naturally got our heating going only for it to pack up the following day. We were already heading for Vancouver to rendezvous with friends, Apple fix, retail and top up on treats for the winter. Ryan suggested we obtained a certain magnet to force the solenoid to turn on the heat, it worked. We spent Canadian Thanksgiving with the Wright family and what a laugh that was. This was followed by a girls’ shopping and lunch day ending with the “last supper” at the Sandbar restaurant with the lads. We caught up with Chris and Jess, very excited about their upcoming birth of their first child and we met Chris’ mother who is great fun.

Vancouver proved to be a successful and fun trip, we got much organised and enjoyed our injection of city life.

During the early autumn we had a few lovely sails with steady wind and flattish seas…..Champagne sailing for the first mate and the skipper enjoyed it too.

We were running down our time back in the Gulf Islands before entering the USA on the 1st November and managed a few pub meals watching the rugby World Cup in Moby’s in Ganges.

The highlight of the last week was to anchor in Todd’s Inlet at the back of Buchart Gardens and meeting up with Susan and Ian Grant. Autumn in these beautiful gardens was stunning and the four of us strolled around the various sunken gardens, enjoying a cold yet sunny day with fewer visitors. We chatted as we walked, discovering each other’s summer news and making plans to join the 70th celebration of the OCC next May in Victoria.

We returned to Ganges for our last few days in Canada and then via our least favourite anchorage, Cadbro Bay, we headed over the border to rendezvous with our friendly border and customs officer in Port Townsend, Officer Proffer. Alas he was not working and we were expected to re route to Port Angeles to check into the USA. Efficiently and welcoming we went through the necessary checks, refuelled and then found a “protected” anchorage along the coast, as we had run out of daylight hours to get to Port Townsend. We will not travel in the dark in these waters, mainly due to floating and sometimes submerged tree trunks, which could potentially cause catastrophic damage to vessel and crew. The anchorage proved to be very bouncy and not much sleep was had by either crew. At first light (nowadays 8am) we travelled the last few miles to Port Townsend.

What a feeling! It was like reaching home. The welcome was phenomenal and we feel very comfortable here with lots of friends and help. Hugs from Kelsey in the marina office, cuddle from the delectable Bertram on the travel lift, smiles from Ginger at PTSW co-op and catching up with Odin and Joe from the docks together with waves from familiar people around the vast boatyard and marina.

Port Townsend is a special place in our hearts and we are looking forward to spending our last winter here in the NW.

Kynoch Inlet

The bad weather had abated and a chance to get further north was on the agenda. Under leaden skies and cool temperatures we motored past Cape Caution, with a slight swell but tame for this wild cape. Cape Caution has a fearsome reputation but with planning, checking the weather, patience and plenty of time and stopovers, this cape’s bark is worse than its bite.

View from Tuna Point

The feeling of freedom when we up-anchored at some unhealthy time in the morning was huge. Apart from some heavy seas going across the Juan de Fuca Strait, we enjoyed a comfortable sail towards Bedwell Harbour to check into Canada. Later that afternoon we continued to Ganges on Saltspring Island for fresh provisioning and cigars. 63nm in ten hours was good going.

Skull Cove

We diverted to Malcolm Island, spending time salmon fishing, still nothing to put in the pan. Everything we had read and friend’s recommendation sent us to the town of Sointula and we anchored under overcast skies in Rough Bay. We assumed the name was appropriate in certain weather but it was calm for us, although littered with crab buoys.

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