Charging North


Yahtzee moving into position for the start of the race.

This is it. I’m here. This is what Solace and I have spent almost two years preparing for. I’m in the middle the Strait of Georgia. Water stretches out in all directions. The hills of both sides are mere outlines. I’m doing 4.5 knots beating into the northwest wind with a single reef in my main and my working jib hoisted. Solace is charging through the three foot chop rolling down the Strait. I can feel the tension. It feels like every piece of rigging, every chain plate is working. She’s flying.

This poor neglected boat sat patiently for over a decade before I found her. For a year and a half I treated her like a part time job, averaging 3 to 4 hours a day working on her. I’d hate for something to break right now. The chop is too severe to operate my outboard above quarter throttle. I’d make it back to shore, but it would be a long, painful day. But I’m not worried. She’s got this. I have faith because I’ve tested her. I’m just along for the ride. The sails and autopilot move to constantly correct each other and I just let Solace do her thing.

And now here we are. The picturesque mountains of the Sunshine Coast loom above my bow.

Andy And Porter

Hanging with Andy and his son Porter aboard Yahtzee. Porter really liked having those earmuffs on and wore them all night.

After claiming all the gear I mentioned in my last post, I caught an early morning, flood tide from Friday Harbor and motored back across the Canadian border. After checking in at Bedwell Harbor on Pender Island, I motored back to Ganges on Salt-Spring Island. I rode the entire flood tide and made great time. Once anchored, I caught a beer with Andy from the sailboat Yahtzee. We have been trying to rendezvous for a couple months and kept missing one another, sometimes only by a few hours. We were finally able to connect in Ganges. They were there to compete in the Round Saltspring Race.

The morning of the race, I left an hour before the first wave of racers. I was sure to get around the bottle neck pass between Saltspring and Prevost Islands (what’s it called? It’s not marked on my chart) and get as far out of the main course on Trincomali Channel as I could before throwing up the sails and catching a sweet breeze north. Inevitably the entire racing fleet passed me. It was amazing to see all those sailboats on the water at once. I felt like I had ringside seats. It was my closest experience to date with sailboat racing.

Full Circle

The S/V Full Circle. A beautiful Windjammer 34 that has been lovingly restored.

Eventually the wind died down and I was stuck bobbing around in the doldrums with the racers. This is why ‘sailboat racing’ has always struck me as an oxymoron. Thanking myself for not being a racer, I fired up the engine and continued riding the flood tide north. I made it to Clam Bay, a popular stop-over anchorage that I used a couple times last year. The next morning I rode the same flood tide all the way to Nanaimo where I anchored behind Newcastle Island.

Just past Silva Bay my engine started sputtering. After fiddling with it for a bit, I was pretty sure it was the fuel filters. I throttled down and was able to make it to Newcastle Island at about 1/3 throttle. I changed out both fuel filters and could see a thin film of varnish on the first filter. Looks like I’m still working the bugs out of the tank. I restocked supplies in Nanaimo and met Ken, owner of S/V Full Circle, while anchored there. Full Circle is a beautiful boat that he picked up for cheap as a neglected cast-away that he’s spent a significant amount of time restoring.

After carefully picking my tide and weather window, I set out across the ominous Strait of Georgia, which brings us back to the beginning of this post. The adventures continue next week…

Locations Mentioned In This Post:

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