It’s impossible to write about the entire coast in a short article, but here’s a glimpse into what’s lying beyond the ferry routes we know, behind the bustling marinas and away from the highways we travel. Maybe it will spark some interest to venture out and find your own hidden gem.
Read the full article in the Vancouver Sun....
Last week we cast off the mooring lines for another five day cruise & learn adventure to the Gulf Islands. Light winds prevailed during the Strait of Georgia crossing.
This gave us time to talk about sail theory, collision regulations and navigation. How is that for a class room: Front row, ocean view!
The timing was right to get through Gabriola Pass a slack tide and shortly afterwards we dropped the anchor in Pirates Cove on De Courcy Island.
Done with the sailing lessons for the day, we fire up the BBQ and prepare salad. While waiting for the steaks, we have some appies and a cold drink.
Environment Canada forecast light winds again and we decided to head for Porlier Pass near the northern end of Trincomali Channel. This is the perfect sail practice area: We always find a fresh breeze, even when the seas all around are calm. It is also close to numerous, charming anchorages. Having done the class room sailing lessons the day before, it was time for the practical sailing lessons: Points of sail, tacking and gybing are the first steps to become a sailor. That night we snug down in Princess Cove on Wallace Island, one of the most lovely places one can visit in the Gulf Islands.
For the history buffs among you: Trincomali channel was named after the HMS Trincomalee. Built 1812 in Bombay, India, she can now be seen at the dockyard museum in Hartlepool, England. This makes her the oldest boat of the Royal Navy still afloat.
After the basic sailing lessons of the previous day, it was time to introduce crew overboard procedures. The building breeze at the entrance to Ganges Harbour made for perfect conditions. Ganges, on Saltspring Island, is named after the HMS Ganges, the last Navy sailing ship to serve as a flagship. Snugged down at Ganges Marine, we were treated to a delicious dinner at Calvin’s Bistro, a delightful Swiss restaurant with a gorgeous view over Ganges Harbour.
Please allow me to introduce two of our sailing students: Rebecca Berger & Leanne Zrum. They are currently preparing to cross the Pacific in a rowboat from Monterey, California to Hawaii. 2,100 miles through the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, unassisted they will be the first female pair to have ever done this!
You can visit their website and learn more about their incredible journey as they prepare for the race start in 2014: http://www.rowthepacific.ca
During the last two days we slowly made our way back to Vancouver. Sailing north in Trincomali Channel the next day we were alerted by a May Day call. A power boat ran aground at Panther Point (south end of Wallace Island). Being nearby, we started the engine and approached the Panther Point. When we arrived maybe 15 minutes later, another power boat was already on scene evacuating all passengers to shore. Shortly thereafter the Coast Guard was on scene. With now apparent damage and all passengers save on shore, they departed soon. A commercial towing vessel was called and we left the scene towards Clam Bay.
Salmon BBQ was on the menu that night. To make slack tide at Porlier Pass, we weighed the anchor at 6 am, made it through the pass in time and stopped at Dionisio Point for a more relaxed breakfast before crossing the Strait of Georgia back to Vancouver.
Another cruise & learn, with four wonderful students came to an end when we docked at back in Vancouver.
Your Simply Sailing Team,
One of our Simply Sailing students who just recently completed the basic cruising course through our day sailing program chartered a sail boat. I was invited to join and coach him on his first sailing adventure along BC’s spectacular coast.
Our home for the week was a Dufour 385, a beautiful boat, well equipped yet simple to sail.
On day one, we set sail from Powell River towards Savary Island and drop the anchor just short distance off it’s white, sandy beaches for short swim in the warm water.
In light winds, we head north and spend the night in Squirrel Cove on Cortez Island. Before sunset we explored the tidal pool and two of us even went for a short snorkeling expedition. Cortez Island is the gateway to the Desolation Sound, one of the worlds most beautiful cruising destinations.
Secluded anchorages, stunning waterfalls, hidden lakes, and white beaches invite the sailor to explore and discover.
A light breeze pushed us up the east side of Cortez Island and we sailed into Teakerne Arm where we set anchor just west of Cassel Falls.
While the others rowed ashore I tended to the boat as there were two power boaters who had their anchors stuck and maneuvered around our sailboat too close to comfortably leave the boat alone.
Once they were sorted out, I jumped in the refreshing cold water, pushing a dry bag with my cloths in front of me, swam to shore and joined the other sailors for a fantastic swim in Cassel Lake.
Teakerne Arm, is not recommended for overnight anchorage. Holding is erratic, and sudden strong winds are common. Reluctantly we leave this wonderful spot behind and head north, through Lewis Channel.
Winds were light and sailing was very slow and we decided to start the engine. More than 200 years ago, Captain Vancouver, without the luxury of having an engine, took four frustrating days to sail out of Lewis Channel. Disgusted with the fluky winds and the endless inlets that lead to nowhere he named the place ‘Desolation Sound’. Amazing, how perception has changed over time!
Our next destination was Von Donop Inlet. A deep channel cuts almost right through Cortez Island and we end up spending the night just half a mile from Squirrel Cove, only on the other side of the island.
Leaving Desolation Sound we were sailing towards Quadra Island. After a wonderful morning sail, we were becalmed. It was too early to head for the anchorage and we decided to visit Mitlenatch Island, the “Galapagos of British Columbia”. Home to five bird colonies it is the Strait of Georgia’s most important seabird breeding ground. An treeless rock, more than a kilometer long it used to be called “Ma-Kee-Lay-La” (meaning: It looks close, but seems to move away as you approach it). We even saw a seal giving birth, simply amazing.
Weighing the anchor at this most wonderful place behind, we once again pointed the bow of our boat north and found a beautiful spot set anchor on Rebecca Spit (Quadra Island). The next morning we set sail in a brisk breeze and head for Uganda Passage and Shark Spit where we anchored for lunch. The sandy beach was covered in sand dollars.
The wind was stronger in the afternoon and we enjoyed the sailing in the sun and the building winds. That night, Gorge Harbour was our stop for the evening. While we anchored on a little bay all by ourselves, we checked out the marina facilities and were blown away: Grocery stores, fire pits by the beach, a restaurant, cabins, real showers!! and even a swimming pool.
The next day was our last sailing day and we set course for Powell River. The wind forecast called for strong winds. Through the day the wind built to over 20 knots and everybody had a blast. As the wind picked up we reefed the sails. Perfect conditions for sailing. We practiced some crew over board procedures, as these are the conditions who want to master those skills.
Tired, but with a smile on our faces we snugged down the boat late that evening at her dock in Powell River. A great sailing adventure came to an end.
Your Simply Sailing Team
Christof is the owner and operator of Simply Sailing. An enthusiastic sailor he loves to share his knowledge with other sailors.
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