Broad Reach

Cortez Beer

Enjoying a frosty porter on Cortez Island as Solace bobs in the background.

While anchored at Cortez and getting my internet fix, I started working on the fuel tank. I only managed to siphon out a couple gallons before it ran dry, which led me to think the problem was an almost empty tank. All the varnish coming through must have been floating at the top and it all came through as the tank emptied. Hopefully, I thought, the problem is now fixed and a full tank will be the final nail in the coffin. However, it only took 10 gallons to fill the 20 gallon tank. Something’s not adding up and I still don’t know how to explain it, but the engine has been running well and that’s all I really care about.

From Cortez Island, I sailed back to Lund. The wind had been steady out of the north for the last three weeks. It was about to shift and come from the south for a week before switching back to the north for the foreseeable future. Sailing downwind is always easier and more comfortable, and usually faster, than sailing upwind. I have a friend in Comox and we’ve been trying to cross paths for a while. I decided to sail across the Strait of Georgia with the last of the northern wind and hole up in Comox for a few days to let the southerly blow itself out.

Day Sail Comox

Out for a day sail around Comox.

I anchored behind the spit in Comox. Good protection from wind from all directions. The spit doesn’t do much to block the wind, but it does reduce the fetch. This is ideal for me as I want the wind to power my wind turbine, but I want a small fetch to keep the anchorage calm. I anchored with the rest of the boats and fired up the long-range wifi antenna to start looking for wifi. I was able to get the password for the Harbor Authority marina. With a stern line to my new stern anchor, I was able to keep the boat stationary and point the antenna for a nice, strong signal. The wind and sun over the next several days supplied all the energy I could consume.

I met up with my friend Daphne, a single mother with two boys, who has a lot of canning experience. We swapped canning tips and showed each other our homes. She’d been wanting to check out my boat setup for a while. The next day we took a day sail to Sandy Island where we picked Sea Beans to can. She knew of a beach there where moon snail shells wash ashore in large quantities. I hiked over to pick up some souvenirs for my family. It was a great sail day!

Picking Sea Beans

Picking Sea Beans, otherwise known as Sea Asparagus.

Daphne is a fellow member of the Salish Sea Sailors group on Facebook. Though this was our first meeting in real life, we’d been Facebook friends for years. I spend hours chatting with her and writing down her navigation advice before leaving on my voyage. She’s a modern day Capi Blanchet. During the year she works as a teacher. Every summer she loads her two kids up into a power boat, rents out her house, and spends months island hopping and indulging her children with all of nature’s wonders. Take note aspiring nomads: This woman has it figured out.

After the weather turned and the wind started coming from the north, I charged straight down the Strait of Georgia. From Comox I sailed to Hornby Island. From there to Lesqueti, then Nanaimo, at which point I was back in the Gulf Islands. The sailing was great! The huge fetch of the Strait resulted in humungous seven foot rollers, spaced 30 feet apart. I was scarcely down one side before the next wave picked up the boat. If I hadn’t been on a broach reach, the wave action would have been unbearable. But going with the flow as I was, it made for a fantastic sail and some big miles.

Canned Sea Beans

Canned Sea Beans

After restocking in Nanaimo, I squeezed through Dodd Narrows at slack and alternated between motoring and sailing south. At Ganges I met back up with the crew of Yahtzee, who have been holed up there for a while due to engine trouble. Their problems are solved and they’ll be heading north in the near future.

My final night in Canada was spent at Bedwell Harbor on Pender Island. As the sun came up and I motored out of the harbor, I waved goodbye to Canada and faced resolutely south. At that moment a pod of Orca whales rounded the southern corner of Pender Island and swam right by my boat. The bulls led the pack along my starboard side while in the distance the cows and calves put on a good show of belly flops in the crisp morning air. A mother, with a calf tightly glued to her side, swam by at about 200 yards away.

Last year I was escorted across the border by a lone dolphin. This year I was welcomed back by Orcas. I live a blessed life.


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Related posts:

Does Size Matter? Yes, it does.
Sailing the Gulf Islands, Part 10
Freedom and Angst
Comments
One Response to “Broad Reach”
  1. Welcome back to US waters Chris…..although we just can’t compete with the Orca welcome! Come visit when you get down this way.

    Katie and Mark

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