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Old 31-08-2011, 17:36   #1
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Thumbs up Gunkholing in the Gulf Islands

I woke about 6 AM and had a discussion with myself and my dreams to decide if I'd had enough sleep. It was getting close to 7 before I had a decision and got out of bed. I went around closing portholes and then fired up the engine, untied from the bouy and headed out of the bay. I had reached the mouth of Degnan and still hadn't decided whether I was heading north into Georgia Strait or south into Pylades. The chart plotter said that Gabriola Passage was ebbing at 3.8 knots but she didn't look it. Still the WX had said the wind would die in the afternoon and so I decided to head into the Pylades. If the winds were going to go I didn't want to be off Roberts Bank looking at a long motor back to the islands.

My short term goal is rather modest. I'm due in Victoria on Friday eveing to pick up my son. This gives lots of time to choose options and sail as much of the way as the winds allow me.

The morning started well. Once I was in Pylades Channel I set the autopilot to work and made breakfast. After my second cup of coffee I set the sails and killed the iron genny. The breeze was good and I sailed wing on wing until getting into the Trincomali where I decided to see if I could get a little more speed out of her by gybing. True to gulf island form the winds became lighter and everything slowed down.

As I shifted around the Trincomali trying different points of sail I was paced by another sailboat and we spent the whole day in the general vicinity of each other. Off of Porlier Pass things were very quiet but a few of us stuck to our sails and soon were on our ways again. Whe I got to the pass around the tip of Saltspring Island and into Captain's Passage I heard the fellow pacing start his engine. He waved as he went by and yelled an apology for the lack of wind. It didn't take me long to follow suit as I realized the wind wasn't going to carry me around the corner.

I pointed into the wind and pulled my sails in then headed into the passage and ultimately into Ganges Harbour. Ganges has two sides and most people go in the south part but I like anchoring in the north side off of Goat Island. As I'm typing this I'm looking at the island. I have walked it before since there are no houses on it. It is a narrow strip and quite pretty. I wrote a song once about anchor here called Saltspring Holiday. Maybe someday I'll sing it for you. Behind me the shore is lined with houses, very expensive houses. Saltspring is one of the places where Canada's (and the USA's) rich and famous come to play. Well, tonight I'm here too.

I'm not going into the town this trip. It's a spot that I like so I'm just anchoring the night and tomorrow I'll probably go to Sidney Spit. My son has 8 days off work to gunkhole with me and then I'll wend my way back to Gabriola. I have a gig in Courtenay on the 17th of September so plan on making it home by the 14th to have a couple of days recovery before driving up there.

The rice is done and I'm going to get some veggies together; I've got some from the garden. I hope everybodies day was as nice as mine was.

-Greg
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Old 31-08-2011, 17:40   #2
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Re: Gunkholing in the Gulf Islands

Nice report Hummingway. Reminds me of the time we spent in the PNW. Really enjoyed the Gulf Islands.
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Old 31-08-2011, 20:30   #3
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Re: Gunkholing in the Gulf Islands

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I hope everybodies day was as nice as mine was.

-Greg
NO, but OK even if it was at home.(and work)

Hope your night is as nice.
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Old 31-08-2011, 20:46   #4
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Re: Gunkholing in the Gulf Islands

Cool. Are you going to blog this for us? Last time I was in the Gulf Islands it was exactly this time of year, and it was absolutely gorgeous.

Would love to hear about all the perfect days. I'm subscribing to this thread, for sure.
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Old 01-09-2011, 17:11   #5
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Re: Gunkholing in the Gulf Islands

You would have enjoyed today Bash. It was a wonderful sailing day. A little cool but the winds were great. My top speed on the day was 8.5 knots over ground. I was in head winds but what a wonderful time. My arms and shoulders got a great workout cranking the 150 genoa.

I'm anchored off of Paradise Beach at Sidney Spit now with a beer in hand. I had to dodge crab floats to get the right position but it's a lovely spot to anchor. Shortly after shutting things down a crabber came by and pulled up his trap line. I enjoy watching them and their attendant flock of seagulls as they work. I had swung towards their traps so watched them close by the cabin windows.

On the floats there's a couple of interesting wooden boats, an antique motor vessel and a sail boat that looks much like a k-boat to me, along with the usual assortment of boats. On the beach in front of me is a dory with two masts and a tent. No else is anchored here; rumours are the winds will get strong tonight with a gale warning up for the Juan de Fuca, but Sidney Island provides nice protection from the prevailing southerlies even when they're strong.

From here I can see Saltspring in one direction and Stuart Island in another as well as the Malahat Pass on the other side of Saanich Peninsula. I kept my boat on these waters last year and really like the area.

If the winds are similiar tomorrow I'll be tacking all the way into Oak Bay. I thought, after I pick up my son, we'd come back here. It's a nice spot to hike and it's supposed to get hot on the weekend again.

Well, I better do some stretching or these shoulders will begin reminding of the years gone bye!
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Old 01-09-2011, 17:56   #6
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Re: Gunkholing in the Gulf Islands

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It was a wonderful sailing day. A little cool but the winds were great.
I wish I'd read this years ago. The first time we anchored at Sydney Spit we'd chartered a trawler because friends had told us that there was never enough wind up in the Gulf Islands to bother with a sailboat. Of course, except for the one day where the fog was so thick I couldn't see my Loran, we had perfect sailing conditions.

Went up there on a buddy's sailboat two years ago, departing from Orcas Island, and we had to reef as often as not.

I keep threatening to drag my sea kayaks up there one of these years.

Fair winds!
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Old 02-09-2011, 17:22   #7
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Re: Gunkholing in the Gulf Islands

I'm sitting at Oak Bay, anchored by the marina and it's a gorgeous day. It's the kind of day that makes people will say there's not much wind in the summer on the Salish Sea but still their was 7-8 knots for the first while and I sailed half way before sailing turned into drifting.

It takes patience to sail when it's like that or maybe you just really need to enjoy being there. A couple of days ago I was ruminating about the power boats going down the Trincomali Channel creating a big wake a going very fast, the type of boat that has no deck or bridge and a very agressive look to them, and I thought these people don't really like being here so they're trying to get somewhere else without experiencing it. I wish they'd fly or maybe just go to Las Vegas. That is, as they say, life. Six billion of us all running around looking for fufillment in someway. For me it was in the beauty of the day today.

My son lives right on Willows Beach and I'm going to row over there soon and wait for him to get off work. Through the glasses I can see the beach has it's fair share of scantily clad woman. I generally don't like phrases that hide the ugliness of the world but there are times when it is all good!
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Old 05-09-2011, 09:52   #8
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Re: Gunkholing in the Gulf Islands

We had quite the sail back to Sidney Island. I didn't check the currents before leaving Oak Bay, just headed out once everyone was settled; my son's girlfriend was a last minute addition to the crew. The winds were lovely and we sailed well out into the Juan de Fuca to make a tack up into Haro Strait but on the tack I noticed that despite seeming to be sailing well we were slipping backwards! We kept at it so Allissa could enjoy the sailing and we were all enjoying the day but eventually turned on the motor and fought our way out of Juan de Fuca.

It has been beautiful here. Yesterday I donned my son's wet suit and scraped the rudder free of it's colonies of mussels and barnacles. The water is very cold, 13 Celcius according to the sonar. I've dived in a couple of times to cool off and, even swimming as fast as I can to get out, body parts start to ache immediately.

Sunday means beer can races in Sidney Channel. We're anchored near one of the flags so will have a great view. I've seen those races many days when there was no wind so I hope this morning's breeze will hold for them.

This afternoon Allissa will catch the ferry from here to Sidney and then bus back to Victoria. It's been great having her aboard but tomorrow she works. Hopefully the winds will be nice and Chris and I will sail on to Portland Island for a couple of days there.
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Old 06-09-2011, 13:33   #9
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Re: Gunkholing in the Gulf Islands

It was a short motor this morning to Portland Island. The sea was glassy and the sky cloudless. There were porpoises all the way there. We are anchored in Princess Bay, a first for me since in the past I've always anchored in Royal Cove. It's a tight anchorage and open to the South but the weather shows nothing but quiet and sun ahead so we should be good for a couple of days. There's less rollers coming into this bay from the ferries then at Royal Cove. With the southern exposure the sun is blasting.

Last night Chris put on his wet suit and was diving off the boat with a mighty splash, right at sunset. To our surprise a couple of seals came within ten feet of him to see what the commotion was. I don't know if this something they do elsewhere but here at sunset and into the night seals get, what looks like, playful. They splash and slap the water; I even seen them do it with a friend where they are almost like kids in a pool splashing each other. I think with the wet suit on they might have thought Chris was another seal.

Much of the shore of Portland is a Rock Fish Conservation Area so if we fish this evening we'll have to be outside those boundaries. Oysters, mussles, little necks and manila clams are open on most of the island so that will be fun. This bay is under a sanitary closure but I know a great spot for them. The hiking is really pleasant here as well so it is always a nice place to visit.
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Old 06-09-2011, 14:07   #10
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Re: Gunkholing in the Gulf Islands

Very enjoyable read! Ah, the memories that your voyage down Trincomali brings back...
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Old 10-09-2011, 15:23   #11
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Re: Gunkholing in the Gulf Islands

Portland Island was lovely and Princess Bay, while tight is a decent fair weather anchorage. We had oyster stew the first night there wading to harvest thew oysters since the tide was up. We caught a lot of rock fish and kept two which we saved for the crab trap at Pender Island.

The sea was glassy and we motored across the channel to Pender. Salmon were jumping along the bluffs and there was a lot of people fishing. We motored to the head of the Bedwell Harbour and anchored off of Medicine Beach, a lovely little nature reserve. We put the motor on the dink and putted through the canal to Port Browning where we bought some supplies and then sat on the deck of the pub and had a couple of cold beer.

The crabbing was terrific in Bedwell and we had a couple of crab feasts while there. We aslo hiked to Magic Lake and washed the salt off ourselves. I've been plungin in most days for a cooling rinse and was pretty salty. It was nice to be in water that won't bring on hyprthemia in 30 minutes!

The winds were nice this morning and we sailed out of Bedwell and along Boundary but we were becalmed at Moresby Island and motored the rest of the way to Sidney Spit. Tomorrow morning we'll head to Oak Bay in Victoria where Chris will return home. From there I'll begin my own journey back to Gabriola. Hopefully the winds will be good. While our weather has been spectacular it would be nice to sail home.
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Old 14-09-2011, 11:13   #12
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Re: Gunkholing in the Gulf Islands

I'm home now but had a bit of adventure getting here. Chris and I left Sidney Spit on a glorious Sunday, glassy seas though so we motored with the tide into Oak Bay at low tide. It was a bittersweet morning as our time together came to an end.

At this point I will share a lesson I learned: don't let another's stupidity become your own.

This is how I learned it. The autopilot was steering and we were getting close to time to navigate around some rocks; we were under power and there was another sailboat powering off our starboard side. I went below and turned the AP off, looking out the pilothouse window as I did to see where the other boat was. I realized he had overtaken us and now was cutting across our bow, right in front of us putting us on a collision course! I throttled back and veered to port until I could correct across his stern then went above and hollered, "Are you always so rude?". I should have asked if he was always so insane as to try and cause and accident! He acted like he couldn't hear and maybe he couldn't but I was really shocked by this. He was probably seventy and had his wife on board.

We went around a couple of markers and headed for the channel into the marina area and saw him continuing south just off of where we now were. My son and I were commenting on what an idiot the guy was as I steered around another marker when BANG!, we came to an immediate and violent stop. Realizing I had hit a rock I through the engine in reverse and backed up and pulled around the danger. While I headed to the gap in the breakwater I asked Chris to check we weren't taking on water.

Once we were anchored I checked things over and could find no damage so we loaded Chris' stuff in the dink and took him home, I did a little grocery shopping and returned to the boat. I'd like to say that it was that morons fault for distracting us with his unconscionable behavior but I think that "don't let another's stupidity become your own" is probably a better lesson. Looking on the chart plotter it seems I had caught the very edge of the reef and would have cleared with another couple of inches of tide!

I headed back to Sidney for the night, in part because I wanted to be sure everything felt right in the boat. There was some wind and I motorsailed part of the way before it went calm again. Each stop at the Spit had impressed me with how busy it was but this was Sunday night and by night fall it had quited down.

Monday morning brought the wind and lots of it. I pulled up anchor before the tide had turned since the winds were so fresh. What an amazing day it was for sailing with the sun shining and winds eventually gusting to 20 knots. When I started at 9:30 I was only seeing about 12 knots but by the time I'd reached Swanson Channel they were howling and so was I. I was back in the Trincomali Channel by about 2PM when there was another bang and something snapped on the main traveler car. I had been looking at replacing this thing for a while since it was a cobbled together affair the previous owner had put together. Lately it had been very difficult to adjust it but a good car of its type is pricey. Anyway, here I was in good wind with lots of flood left to sail and my main swung over against the shrouds.

I started the motor and engaged the AP then examined the situation. I couldn't see a safe way to swing the mast back to centre with the sail out so I had to furl it first. I should have pulled down on the vang I think but didn't and the sail backed over farther up the mast, something that doesn't occur when the boom is centred and the sheet tight.

I was right by Montague Harbour but wanted to continue since it was great sailing and the tide was still on my side so I went below and hunted for something to replace the shackle that broke. I had an anchor shackle! Perfect. I climbed up on the cabin roof with some wrenches an dismantled the car, hooked up the shackle and she was ready to go again. It was a nice feeling dealing with something like this while under way. I find each misadventure handled gives me more confidence. I won't know what the keel looks like after meeting up with a rock until I pull her out in October but even that bit of foolishness taught me a valuable lesson.

I unfurled the sails though I wasn't able to get the very top of the main to release; I may have to climb the mast to do it. I was sailing again! By 5PM I was pretty tired and Clam Bay at Kruper/Thetis Islands was close by so rolled in and dropped anchor to spend the full moon in that beautiful spot.

Two and half hours of motoring and I was back in Degnan Bay and on my mooring buoy again, tired and dirty but content after a truly wonder father/son adventure in the Gulf Islands. The sailor is cleaned up but I've got lots to do on the boat. The weather appears to have changed so I'll spend time cleaning the boat and doing some repairs but hopefully I'll get out again before it starts getting colder.
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Old 14-09-2011, 11:43   #13
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Re: Gunkholing in the Gulf Islands

I would like to add my thanks for your posts.

I too hit something this year. Fortunately it was a log and I got it dead on. Managed to get the prop stopped as it went by. Funny how things like that happen. I was looking for a spot on the chart and just missed that log lying low in the water. Kerboom! No dammage thankfully.

I doubt I will get back north again this year but certainly enjoyed your soliloquy...boats and kids (of all ages) just go together. I even had mine aloft cleaning the spreaders.

Almost ready for the rains to come, just a few more coats of Cetol and Idora will be back in service for the fall breezes.

Hope you don't have too many more repairs but that's sailing huh?

Todd
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Old 14-09-2011, 12:49   #14
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Re: Gunkholing in the Gulf Islands

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I would like to add my thanks for your posts.

I too hit something this year. Fortunately it was a log and I got it dead on. Managed to get the prop stopped as it went by. Funny how things like that happen. I was looking for a spot on the chart and just missed that log lying low in the water. Kerboom! No dammage thankfully.

I doubt I will get back north again this year but certainly enjoyed your soliloquy...boats and kids (of all ages) just go together. I even had mine aloft cleaning the spreaders.

Almost ready for the rains to come, just a few more coats of Cetol and Idora will be back in service for the fall breezes.

Hope you don't have too many more repairs but that's sailing huh?

Todd
It does seem like you have to embrace the repair part of it too! I find I enjoy the work the more familiar it becomes to me, it's when I don't know what's involved in fixing something that it gets under my skin.
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Old 10-10-2011, 16:53   #15
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Re: Gunkholing in the Gulf Islands

I thought I'd finally put up a couple shots from this trip.

Morning at Goat Island. You can see the fog bank hanging in Swanson Channel off in the distance:
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Sunrise at Sidney Island followed by sunset at Sidney Island:
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Wish it was that nice now!
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