Note: This blog is written by Nancy, with help from Jessica’s timeline. Pictures are by Tom, Jessica, David, Susan, Peter, and Nancy. Commentary in italics is by Peter.
Day 3 (Monday, Aug 25th): Mid-morning
After paddling over the the Adventuress, Jessica and I returned to the Gyrfalcon. Jessica demonstrated the most elegant kayak exit yet–she easily stepped out of the kayak and into the Gyrfalcon. Pictures below for Peter and Dennis W. to take note:
We got underway a little before noon, and headed via Boundary Pass over to Bedwell Harbor on Pender Island to clear Canadian Customs. On our way into the harbor, we saw a small zodiac with a man and his granddaughter heading on a collision course with our bow. He was looking the other way, and somehow didn’t see us. Peter sounded the airhorn when it became clear that he didn’t see us. His eyes got as big as saucers as he rapidly adjusted his course.
At the customs dock, there was a bit of a current pushing us off. I tried a couple times to maneuver up to the dock, but was unsuccessful. On the final try, it looked to me like I’d finally figured how to dock this boat in current, but just then a customs official came out and said to just call in to Ottawa. I was a little disappointed, but not so much that I insisted on trying again. After customs, we headed over to Swanson Channel.
Our next stop was Glenthorne Passage, with is the body of water between Secret and Prevost Islands. Every year Curt and Marsha Erickson throw a big bash at their place in Secret Island. We had never been to the event, but had heard rave reviews, and were excited to be invited this year. We entered the narrow passage, and, with the help of Rick Etsell, dropped our anchor, backed against the anchor rode, and stern-tied to Teal (see previous blog–we had met up with Teal at Roche Harbor).
Teal was rafted to Deerleap on her starboard side and tied to a substantial buoy. On the other side of the buoy, Olympus was stern-tied and was anchored at her bow. It was quite a sight! There were also several other CYA boats nearby. We went ashore and had a wonderful time. Curt and Marsha are gracious hosts and we all enjoyed ourselves tremendously.
Teal and Deerleap at Glenthorne Passage
A gaggle of fantails at Glenthorne Passage
Days 4 and 5 (Tuesday, Aug 26th and Wednesday, Aug 27th)
On Tuesday, boats headed out of Glenthorne Passage. We hugged the coastline, went back through Swanson Channel to Satellite Channel (around the Saanich Peninsula) and into Saanich Inlet to Brentwood Bay Marina.
One of the challenges of cruising in the Gulf Islands is the large number of BC ferries going every which way. It was challenging to try to figure out where the ferries were going, and which way to go to avoid them.
Deerleap got to Brentwood Bay before us, so we just pulled in right behind them. It was my first solo docking. Exciting!!!
After we were docked, Peter turned on the hydraulics and started operating the crane. Due to a combination of equipment and operator malfunction, we managed to crack a hydraulic fitting. Rescue Tape (every abode and vehicle should have a roll or two) once again was the miracle it is advertized as . With the crane decommissioned, we used people power to lift the steps on and off the dock. It was doable, but not fun.
Comment from Peter: Nancy is being kind. Total Operator Error on my part. Thanks to the crew for the incredible cleanup effort.
Jessica had several moments of enlightenment at Brentwood Bay. She took a long ride in the go-fast-boat and saw her dream house on its own peninsula with its own boat house and breakwater. She also discovered that she loves Tillamook yogurt (one of my everyday staples).
The crew re-provisioned the boat by hiking up the hill to a small store. It turns out that Dr. Pepper was a staple on this trip. It always is for Peter and me, but our guests seemed to be quite fond of it as well–we needed several restocking trips. The fondness for Dr. P made sense when I realized that it’s a crew of predominantly southern origins (David–New Orleans; Tom-Florida; Jessica–Knoxville; Peter–Texas). For once, we didn’t need to reprovision the liquor cabinet..
Comment from Peter: Not to suggest that we drank Dr. Pepper instead of alcohol, – we just had plenty of booze on board. Every night on this cruise was greeted by a round of gin and tonics for everyone (except Nancy who can’t stand the taste) before dinner. Tom had made sure that there was plenty of gin on board before we left, and the only time I saw him begin to worry was in when we got to Victoria and the gin was a getting low – he headed straight for the liquor store to rectify the situation. It turned out that the Wisdoms enjoyed a Sundowner as well, so what could I do but join in. None of us was in danger of developing scurvy or malaria.
We spent two nights moored at Brentwood Bay. We took trips around the harbor in the GFB and generally relaxed. The common denominator of relaxation seems to be G&Ts, except for me…I stuck to beer or wine.
Dinner one night was a Canadian CYA hosted potluck planned by Donnell O’Donnell from Merva.
We ate on the patio overlooking the harbor. The next night, we all decided that there were enough leftovers to have Potluck #2 on the Gyrfalcon.
Day 6 (Thurs, Aug 27th)
We left Brentwood Bay at 0630 in order to arrive at Victoria by noon, and followed Deerleap up the channel. We were glad to have the Deerleap leading the way (Slim and Peter Riess) since we had never gone in some of the channels. A few were pretty narrow with lots of current. Our course was as follows: Satellite Passage to Colburn Passage, and then John Passage between Goudge and Coal Islands.
Nancy at the helm
We then went through Sidney Channel and Baynes Channel (this was the rough one) into Haro Strait. After that, it was an easy ride on the outside of Trial Island into Victoria Harbor. There was lots of radio chatter with other old wooden boat people–we had fun listening in. We got to Victoria harbor at about 1115, so had to wait about 1/2 hour to go in until the docks were clear of plastic boats.
Then docking. This was the moment that had kept me up at night (for many nights). Our slip assignment in Victoria was at the land end of a 200 ft linear dock, bow out, which meant I had to turn around in the harbor and back, stern first, down the dock for almost the length of a football field. And maybe that doesn’t seem that far to you either, but it did to me. Think of backing a semitruck down a narrow alley. I’d never backed this boat in close quarters and didn’t know how she would behave, so I was worried. I had consulted with several experienced captains prior to going into Victoria, but it was still pretty nerve-wracking. I didn’t lack for on-site advisors–there were lots of people on the dock trying to be helpful. The hardest part was to get lined up correctly in order to start in reverse (Once you get the stern in the slip, it gets much easier.). My first attempt was a bit off…I let the wind/current push the stern too near to the dock. About when I decided that I needed to realign before entering the slip, I heard 2 loud shouts. One said: “You’re doing great, come on back”, and the other said “Abort!” I realigned and tried again, and this time my angle was good and I got into the slip.
Since our Victoria trip, I’ve had the occasion to back up about 400 ft along the fuel dock in Ballard. What I found is that the Gyrfalcon tracks beautifully in reverse. It’s fairly easy to course correct and she holds a course very well. Next time when I back into a slip, I’ll have more confidence in both me and the Gyr.
Days 7, 8, and 9 (Fri, Aug 29th to Sun Aug 31st): The Annual Victoria Classic Boat Festival
We had a wonderful time at the 37th Annual Victoria Classic Boat Festival for the weekend. We were docked right opposite Deerleap.
We used the muffins that we had made for breakfast to stage the galley using our official US Coast and Geodetic Survey chinaware. How cool is that!
We had about 2100 visitors over the 3 day event. Our crew was stupendous at manning the decks and providing information to visitors. Susan was greeter extraordinaire (she has a future at Walmart, if she wants it!) She and Peter Riess (gatekeeper on the Deerleap) had lively conversations. David sounded like he had known about the boat forever, and Tom and Jessica mostly manned the fantail station, answering questions and keeping traffic moving.
For the Sunday morning sail-past, we joined Deerleap and had a great time.
Later, Tom and Jessica went up to the Thrifty behind the Parliament Building on Saturday to get more gin, tonic and limes.
Then David and I went back on Sunday to get salad fixings, dessert, and delicious BC cherries. On Sunday evening, we attended the closing banquet at the Union Club. We were all impressed with the quality of the food. We expected rubber chicken but were astounded with by the deliciously moist, perfectly seasoned roast chicken breast. We ended the perfect day back on the Gyrfalcon, probably with some more gin and tonics.
Day 10 (Mon, Sept 1st)
After great fun at the Victoria Boat Show, it was time to head back home. We started the engines at about 0700, and headed over to Friday Harbor to clear US Customs. There were lots of sea mammals this day–porpoises, sea lions, harbor seals, a few orcas (with the Olympics in the distance–beautiful), and a big whale that we maybe saw. Or maybe it was our imagination.
Clearing Customs in Friday Harbor was fairly uneventful. I had to do a lot of maneuvering since there was a boat taking up part of the customs dock. But we got in, cleared customs, and went on our way. Jessica almost got left on the dock as the Gyr seemed quite impatient to pull away from the dock once the bow line was released.
We saw two sea lions while cruising into and out of Friday Harbor. We also saw Teal, returning from Victoria to her home port.
As we headed south we encountered a puffin. Tom and Nancy maybe saw the back of what was reported to be a pilot whale. We say porpoises right and left (or I guess I should say starboard and port) as we enjoyed very placid seas and sunny skies.
After crossing the placid Strait of Juan de Fuca, we traveled past Port Townsend and through the Port Townsend canal, into Oak Bay. We continued on past the entrance to Matt Matts Bay and into Port Ludlow. One the way into the harbor, Jessica saw a few seals playing with what appeared to be a partially deflated yellow soccer ball. They would skirmish, pull it under, then up it would pop a few seconds later to the giggles of seal laughter. We spent the night at Port Ludlow. We had never anchored there before, but it’s a nice anchorage that’s closer to Seattle than Port Townsend. We had hors d’ouvres on the fantail and dinner in the pilot house. It doesn’t get much better than this.
Day 11 (Tuesday, Sept 2nd)
It was the last day of our trip. We needed to get folks home and on their way, so we got the anchor up at 0720, and got on our way. Jessica worked the winch, and David cleaned up the muck that the anchor pulled up.
We passed Point No Point, headed into a bit of morning fog, and caught our first glimpse of Seattle in the distance around 0845. At about 1000, we heard Peter scream: ‘Holy fuck a field of Phalarope’ as we cruised by a flock of little shore birds. We cruised around, got some photos, and Peter was in heaven.
We attempted to time our return to miss the majority of vacation boaters, but the locks were quite busy when we arrived around 1130. But I must be getting better–I managed to lock through flawlessly, and the crew executed their duties expertly. We were on an unexpected starboard tie in the large locks. We had lots of company: Daedalus, the 151 foot Boeing yacht, and a whole flotilla of other large cruisers watched as we motored in and out.
After the locks, it was back to the dock. Peter invented a new way of getting on and off the boat–using the very large fenders as a step to get down on the dock. It’s worked the best of anything we’ve tried. One would think that there was a danger of the fender spinning around (think log-rolling), but the friction on the hull seems to keep the fender in place as long as he’s careful.
All in all, it was a fantastic cruise. Great crew, great food, and wonderful scenery. We can’t wait for the next extended cruise!