Sailing the Gulf Islands, Part 7
Day 11, Tuesday 9/9/14My parents are trying to stick to the schedule of two nights on the hook and one at a marina. We had initially planned to head to Pirates Cove today, but Wakes Park is such a sweet spot, we decided to stay another day before heading south to Chemainus.
After getting skunked on the salmon yesterday, my father and I decided to kick it up a notch and troll the pass with my sailboat instead of the dingy. We headed out a little before slack and despite two hours of trolling, again we did not even get a bite.
Having survived my oyster eating trial-by-fire the night before, I popped another six oysters off the rocks as I was out kayaking with my mother. Last night we grilled them in the half-shell. Tonight we planned to bread them with flour, eggs, and Panco crumbs before pan frying them. This turned out to be the best way yet to eat native oysters. After shucking them, dip them in flour, then dip them in beaten eggs, and lastely dip them in bread crumbs before placing them on the hot, lightly oiled frying pan.After my mother and I returned from our little kayak adventure, we heard Gladness hailing us over the radio! Andy and Izak were coming back in, and wouldn’t you know it, they were aiming for Wakes Park before they even knew we were there. After they tied up we celebrated their return with shots of whiskey and then promptly stripping naked and jumping into the chilly salt water!
The boys and I walked the old logging roads on Valdes and they were just as taken aback as I was about the rugged, undeveloped beauty on this island. Their trip to Lesquiti had gone well, thought the same winds that had kept me up in Silva Bay had caught them by surprise and caused them to reset their anchor in the middle of the night. They told tales of the people they had met while hitchhiking Lequiti, and of pantries brimming with home canned food and five-gallon jugs of homemade wine. That island and its people sound right up my alley.
Day 12, Wednesday 9/10/14Before going to bed last night, Andy, Izak, and I checked weather and tides. It’s 17 miles to Chemainus and we hoped for a northwest wind to allow us to sail and troll as much as possible. We decided to get up at 7:30 to allow us to make use of the ebb tide that would last until 11:30. The forecasted wind was expected to be light, but I was hopeful that Dodd Narrows, just to the north of our route would act as a wind tunnel and give us an extra little spurt of localized wind.
As we poked our heads out of Gabriola Passage the water was like glass, reflecting the blue-bird sky. Not a breath of wind. I powered through at half throttle until I reached Ruxton Passage, at which point the glass continued and I could see that my hoped-for localized wind was naught but a dream.
I hooked up my smallest flasher, which would all me to troll as fast as possible – just slightly above idle – and motored south. I made it about half way to Thetis Island before I decided I was wasting my tide and gas. I packed it up and put the engine back on half throttle.The days are so full out here. Every day is a gift, for which I am grateful, and each one stretches out into its own adventure. It’s such a stark contrast to the months spent working, in which each workday I’m lucky if I get two hours to spend on something other than sustaining my working life. This trip has renewed me with new vigor and a new purpose. The long, dreary work days are easier to take when I know what I’m working for. From here on, I will be working for those four months next summer where I can pick this good life back up and like Thoreau, suck out its marrow.
As I rounded the corner of the northwest end of Thetis Island a stiff breeze greeted me from the south. I would be fighting the tide and sailing into the wind but… but what the hell?! It had been a couple days since I had really sailed. I hoisted the genoa and beat to windward.
I was loath to turn off my engine, as even at idle it helps a lot when sailing into the wind. In hindsight though, I should have turned it off to save gas. My 10 HP Mercury Bigfoot outboard burns almost as much gas at idle as it does at half throttle, when it’s pushing me near hull speed. Even still, sailing against the wind and the tide, I was only making about 1 mph of progress toward my destination (in a strait line), being forced to sail 45 degrees off the wind.There really is something magical about crossing a large(ish) body of water. The magic happens when you look down at the chart plotter and note your position relative to the distant land masses and then look up to see that yellow blob materialize into real, three-dimentional life. It really, truly puts the world into perspective. At one glance, you know your place in it and your relation to the environment around you.
After a couple hours of great sail-trolling, but still no bites, my father radioed from Chemainus to let me know all the marinas and floats were full. We decided to fall back to Telegraph Harbor on Thetis Island instead. Being the slow boat worked in my favor as I was almost to the entrance of Telegraph Harbor when he radioed me.
Andy and Izak continued on to Chemainus in pursuit of a nearby swimming lake and then continued on to Salt Spring Island for the same reason. We may meet up on Wallace Island tomorrow… or maybe not. It depends on how the wind blows.
I dropped anchor in the crowded, but well protected, Telegraph Harbor while my parents saddled up to a marina dock slip. I was able to poach some water, garbage, and internet upon visiting them. Telegraph Harbor is so shallow and crowded, I do not recommend it as an anchorage. It’s better to drop anchor in Clam Bay and then bring a dingy in through The Cut between Thetis and Kuper Islands if you want to make use of the pub, grocery, or liquor store at Telegraph Marina or the food stand just down the road from Thetis Marina. Thetis Marina also has a bistro.
Here is a map of the locations mentioned in this post: