Sunday, July 31, 2016

Desolation Sound

It is said that Desolation Sound is one of the best cruising grounds in the world. Each destination for cruising in the world has its unique reason for being great and Desolation Sound definitely has some unique spots. For that matter the Pacific Northwest has many unique spots. I am not going to get too wordy here, the pictures tell the story. 

This is the Family dog Clipper at Widernest Marina. He is half Wolf

Definitely not the East Coast. 

This is a fresh water lake we hiked up to. No showers on the boat tonight! A nice dip in the lake.

Jess making it to the falls at Toba Inlet. The owners of wildernest use this for hydro-power and all the water for the marina.

When cruising you always make friends along the way. We met Ron & Libby in Gorge and they decided to travel with us on the rest of our adventure. So far we are all still smiling.

The Toba falls

Every view is interesting up here

Here we are in Laura Cove stern tied. Stern tying is common in these parts. The water runs deep quickly from shore so you need to get close. Stern tying prevents swinging so more boats can anchor closer together. The ladies are enjoying a break after a short cruise.

Sunset view at Toba Inlet. One of our favorite stops.

Anchored and stern tied for a stop at castle falls. Unfortunately we did not get a shot of our boats in front of the falls. It got late and the wind kicked up and we had to skedaddle to a safe anchorage

Jess scaling down a rock embankment to enter Castle lake for a swim.

Thursday, July 21, 2016


After leaving Ladysmith we cruised to Thetis Island, Wallis Island and settled in at Chemainus for two days. We thought Ladysmith was nice and it looks like Chemainus just beat them out. The marina, although in a busy spot, is right in town. Chemainus is a deep water port and there is a lumber mill in town, so large ships arrive to have lumber loaded for transport overseas. This is a financial boom for a small town of 8,000 people. There is also a ferry that will shuttle people to and from Chemainus to Thetis Island. Ferry transport from island to island is quite common out here. The town was smart enough to realize that dependency on the mill was not healthy for town finances. Especially since another mill had closed down years ago. At that point, they decided that tourism was a good means of alternative support. Someone had the idea to get artists to paint murals on the side of buildings and make a marked walking path to each mural. The murals depict the history of the town. They also encouraged small businesses and eateries and no food franchises. Subway came in under the wire and is the only franchise store in town.
When you wake up in the early morning all is quiet and you can smell the aroma of fresh cut cedar and pine wafting from the mill. As early morning arrives things get busy at the wharf. The ferry to the islands starts up. You can hear the mill operation in the distance and a huge freighter is in port being loaded with hundreds of thousands of board feet of lumber. They loaded that ship for three days 12 hours a day!
The shops are the typical shops one sees at tourist areas, but the restaurants and bakeries offer many choices. There is a big Asian influence out here so your choice of Chinese, Vietnamese and Japanese is abundant. There is also your typical Italian, German and more. We came upon a restaurant run and owned by an African couple. Odika is the name of the restaurant. We gave it a try and were pleasantly surprised. Jess had the lamb shank with almond sauce accompanied with plantain mash, kale and carrots. I had the local salmon also served with kale, carrots and topped with a ginger sauce.
The town also has a live theater and offers two shows 5 days a week. Unfortunately, they were sold out and we could not get to a show.
We leave Chemainus today and return to Ladysmith to meet up with a group of tugs to make our crossing of the Georgia Straits to Gorge Harbor. This will be our entrance way to Desolation Sound.

Below are some pictures:

Clam Bay on Thetis Island

ILLUSIONS in port. We are on the left.

As you can see a bit of Asian influence here.

Entrance to Watermill Park. Great for kids and we also got to see a concert.
They have one every Tuesday night during the summer

Walking down Willow Street

We did take a buggy ride through the town. The driver stopped at each mural
and explained what they depicted.

A typical building mural. Each mural is also maintained by a local artist.

Lumber being loaded by derrick. Three days of Loading! You would think all the trees in Canada would be gone by now.

One of the more famous murals in town. It depicts the strong "indigenous people"
heritage in the area.

Large tide swings up here! You want to plan leaving the dock at high tide.

Saturday, July 16, 2016


After Montague Harbour we motored our way to Ladysmith. Ladysmith is an old mining and lumber town with a population of 8,500 people. What a great place! The marina was the best so far, $1.35 per foot the first night and $1.00 per foot thereafter, even if you leave and come back. Showers are free and impeccably clean facility, but donations are accepted. It is a short walk, well maybe a little longer than short, uphill to the town. The hills remind me somewhat of San Francisco. All the shops are great and you can’t miss the Old Town Bakery. Cinnamon buns the size of bricks! Okay we agree to buy two, split one and save the other for tomorrow. Yeah right! We ate both. So much for our responsible eating. The 49th parallel grocery has plenty to offer. After shopping they will drive you back to the marina. Our one-night stay turned into three. How could we leave a town so quickly that has a bus driver who knows the names of all the passengers and even the names of their dogs. When we asked him to explain the schedule his reply was, “Oh, I can’t even understand it”, where do you want to go, I’ll just drop you off.

We had another surprise by being able to attend the Maritime Society Dinner held every two weeks. We had tried to get tickets earlier, but they were sold out. Later in the day the marina desk clerk asked Jess if we were spontaneous. Jess of course said yes! They had a cancellation and we were in. We also happened to sit with the director of the society and before you know it, it was announced that we have guests who are attending that have come the furthest than any other, Mike & Jess Rizzo. Our picture was taken and we are supposed to be in the next newsletter. 

A bit of an uphill walk from the marina. The good part is that you pre-burn calories from the cinnamon buns and it is a downhill walk on the way back.

The Trans Canadian Highway passes through town. 

Side Ties at the dock. Easy in and easy out.

Today we eat Carbs! Oh yeah, Fresh bread too! 

Victoria to Montague Harbour

As you cruise north the scenery gets better and we start to realize that our efforts to get here are starting to pay off. The Gulf Islands are another section of cruising grounds that have a lot to offer. There are abundant anchorages and marinas. Unlike the east coast, the going rate for a marina is between $1.00 to $1.50 per foot. However, everything is ala carte. You pay for showers, usually 1 Looney for 3 minutes and sometimes you even pay for throwing out garbage. The Gulf Islands have just come off a severe water drought and even at best times water is always conserved. No boat washing and filling up tanks is restricted to 40 gallons per day. We only use about 5 gallons so we are golden. Some of the stops we have made since leaving Victoria are: Poet’s Cove, Salt Spring Island, Montague Bay at Galiano Island, Ladysmith and today Thetis island.
Poet’s Cove is known for its resort. It is a bit pricy because of the “resort” name, but the marina is pretty standard. As marina guests we can use the pool and other facilities. A nice swim in a heated pool felt good.

Poets Cove Marina

 The next day we headed out to Salt Spring Island and stayed at a marina there with the same name. It was a great little town with a farmer’s market, a big hardware store and a great grocery. We stocked up on supplies and I purchased my fishing and shellfish license for Canada. So far I have invested $258.00 for my quest of Dungeness crab and have not gotten the trap wet. It was time to purchase some chicken backs and get the crabbing show on the road.
Becky and Dun departed us from Salt Spring Island for their return trip home, so today was the day to set my trap and then pick it up on the way out the next morning. My anticipation of success was doubtful, but I followed every pointer I read and asked about. Go in at least 35 feet of water, stand still, drop pot slowly. Let it hit bottom, pick it up and down a few time so you hopefully have it sitting flat on bottom, mark where you are on the GPS. I also put my name on the buoy so if someone stole it they knew who they stole it from and when I went to retrieve it I was sure it was mine.
Next day we left at slack tide for our short trip to the trap. Great, we found the buoy! I had Jess grab it and then I put the boat in neural and went out back to start pulling up the trap. Eureka, crabs!! They had to be the right size and they had to be males. I caught Dungeness and Red Rock. Try measuring live crabs that claws are not held shut with rubber bands. I resorted to pulling them out with tongs and then holding them from behind as I attempted to measure with the caliper. Good, two keepers. I now have two crabs worth $129.00 each. I am now obligated to continue my quest until I am under $20.00 per crab, the going retail rate. Perhaps if I catch a salmon or two I will get into the black sooner. To be continued.
Getting things ready for the kill.

Montague Bay was great! Part of Montague Bay is a Provincial Park. We picked up a mooring ball at the cost of $14.00 per night. We happened upon a couple of other Ranger Tugs and had an impromptu gathering. After wine, cheese and some good laughs on board “Irish Mist”, we took our dingies in to the dock and waited for the infamous Pub Bus driven by Tommy Transit. The bus came in on two wheels, stopped short and the doors opened to wild Tommy, blaring music and a big welcome to the Hummingbird Pub Bus. Somehow, when you travel on a boat you become very trusting of people. If we were in New York, you would have thought that this guy just escaped from Bellevue Mental Hospital unit and stole a bus. As we entered the bus we were each handed a percussion type instrument to play and sing along as we made our way to the pub. The Mamas and Papas “Creeque Ally” gets cued up and the fun and music begins. After a 15-minute ride of music and bedlam, we arrive at the Hummingbird Pub. Expect to wait 50 minutes for your order to arrive, but more drinks are passed around and the time goes quickly. I had what is called a Caesar. Not a salad, but a form of Bloody Mary made with clamato juice. Very good! I was tempted to get another, but with a double shot and what I had on the boat I figured I was good for the night. The halibut fish and chips were spectacular. Our trip back to the harbor was just a hectic, if not more, than the trip there. Tommy had a tape of screeching tires that he promptly put in as we were leaving the driveway. Wheels screech and Tommy grabbing the wheel and throwing himself about was quite a sight. What the hell have we gotten ourselves into? We arrived at our drop off point safe and sound and all waved goodbye to Tommy agreeing that this was definitely a unique evening. We all got to our dingies and made our way back to our respective boats somewhat safely.
The next morning, we prepped the boat for departure. We got into our dingy and motored to each tug to say our goodbyes. We find that these chance meetings and unplanned adventures produce great memories.

Our view in Montague Harbour

No Caption Required

Tommy Transit at the wheel and percussion

The Impromptu Tug Rendezvous Members
Allan, Jess, Me, Linda, Jay, Patti, Mark and Jodi

Thursday, July 7, 2016


Victoria, BC is one of the nicest cities we have ever visited. The place is clean, the people are extremely friendly and the public transportation is extensive. The young people here are very courteous. Most of them would thank the bus driver as they left the bus. What happened to the USA?There is plenty to do and see. Butchart Gardens is the highlight of the visit and a must for anyone who has the slightest interest in flowers and gardening. It is a floral masterpiece. I would suggest a late afternoon arrival and staying until sundown, which around here, at this time of year, is around 10:00PM. Unfortunately, the last bus out was at 8:59 PM so we did not get to see the full lighted display of the plantings. I am sure it was just as magnificent and dramatic as the daytime view. Every Saturday during the summer they also do a ground fireworks display. I heard it is also very impressive. For more information on the gardens here is a link

In addition to the gardens we did a city bus tour that filled us in on all the history of Victoria. We also got to do a tour of the Government building and learned about protocol and the interaction between the queen and the government.

Below are some pictures, mostly of the gardens and the pictures do not do it justice. 

Our Marina in Victoria

Capitol Building at night

Government Chambers

Queen Victoria Impersonator