Roche Harbor, WA
We called into Roche Harbor Resort marina on Thursday at 8:30am to see if they had a slip available; we were assigned slip 42B on the guest dock, under the watch of “Our Lady of Good Voyage Chapel.” We were able to top off with gas first, and then directly go to our slip by 9:00am. The resort is a quaint nook on the northern shore of San Juan Island, established in the 1880s as a Lime and Cement company site, then the property later became a resort. One of the highlights of our stay at Roche Harbor was a pleasant walk around the San Juan Islands Sculpture Park, with 19 acres of natural landscape adorned with sculptures. We enjoyed eating at the Lime Kiln café, and had Starbucks coffee with breakfast one morning. We ended up staying an extra day, and so we got all our walking, showering, dining out and shopping needs met before heading to Sidney, our entrance port into British Columbia, Canada.
As we mentioned, we will be able to stop for gas and have groceries delivered, but no sightseeing ashore or overnights at marinas in Canada. The next leg of the trip will be meals on the boat, with no fresh fruit, fresh meat or eggs from Washington. Customs does not allow you to bring certain items into Canada. We can get fresh fruit, fresh meat and eggs in Canada, however we must eat it all before passing through U.S. Customs in Ketchikan, Alaska. Lots of protocols, but we were prepared, as Les diligently researched the regulations before we left.
I bought some souvenirs and snacks in Roche Harbor to bring along. I found a nice zippered hoodie jacket and a baseball cap. It’s chilly, and although I didn’t need another jacket, it was a useful souvenir. The baseball cap will keep the sun out of my eyes. (Yes, the sun does shine in the Pacific Northwest.) Our first rain was on Friday, while at Roche Harbor in the afternoon, but by dinner it was sunny and pleasant again. We stayed the extra day because the weather station issued a high wind warning, which translates into rough seas. We do not enjoy rough seas. Instead, we enjoyed the evening watching other boaters walk along the docks, and ordered juicy burgers from the café for dinner.
Sidney, Canada and Northwest Bay anchorage
Saturday morning, we slept in a little and had breakfast on the boat. We were underway by 6:30am. It was a very calm and idyllic morning. The customs check-in was 12 miles across the Haro Strait, which we arrived at by 8:30am. We called in to the customs to give our information, then by 8:55am, we were greeted by two officers, who checked our passports, asked us questions and wished us well on our journey. We left by 9:30am to head toward our first anchorage in Canadian waters.
(Les’ thoughts will be in Bold Italic throughout the trip)
We followed Captain’s Passage west of Prevost Island, then up the Trincomali Channel west of Galiano Island. We realized we would not be able to hit the 11:45am slack at Dodd Narrows, so we pushed up the power and arrived at Porlier Pass for its noon slack. After listening on the VHF radio to all the mayhem at Dodd Narrows (lots of boats trying to pass through a narrow strait at the same time) it’s probably best we weren’t there. We slowed a little for two tugs pulling logs and rock through Porlier Pass, then went through without incident.
The Strait of Georgia welcomed us gently, with winds out of the ESE and waves of no more than a foot. The waves were on the beam for the first seven miles, but after turning more westerly at Gabriola Island, the seas became following and the ride smoothed for the rest of the day. As the flood tide kicked in, we got a little boost of speed as well. All in all it was a good day, good progress and cooperative weather.
When we arrived in Northwest Bay, Les asked me to take the helm. Earlier our starter battery failed again, same problem with the fuse. Les fixed that while I slowly circled around the bay amazed at the mountains surrounding us. We dropped the anchor using our windlass, and were settled by 6:00pm. I made mac and cheese with tuna and canned peas. We ate our meal and enjoyed canned pineapple for dessert. After dinner, Les prepped the charts for Sunday’s cruise and I sat on the “back porch” to write in my journal, and sit in awe of the mountains some more. A family stood on the beach, looking out at the view as well. How wonderful to look at this scenery on a daily basis!
Before bed, Les listened to the “lady” on the automated weather forecast out of Victoria. She spoke of winds, directions, and wave heights. I found it interesting that she pronounced southeast as “soth” east with a long “o” sound.
Les listened carefully, and double checked the report on windy.com; he informed me that we should set the alarm for 4:00am to get an early start to beat the winds. I announced that I better go to bed. It was 8:30pm and still light out. I put on my eye cover mask, and amazingly fell sound asleep.
Henry Bay, Denman Island, British Columbia
Les climbed out of bed with the 4:00am alarm. I stayed under my cozy covers, half listening to the weather lady, wondering if the weather would be favorable for our proposed early start. We decided that it would probably be a little choppy out on the main strait, so we made coffee in the bay and left by 5:25am. We hoped to cover 80 miles. The plan was to make a quick run to Henry Bay, and anchor out for the morning until the afternoon, and then cruise up the remainder of the Strait of Georgia. The morning ride was a lot lumpier than we expected. Les valiantly rode the waves, and I tried to take a photo or two. I told myself not to read or do too much looking because the roiling waters tend to overtake my stomach. (I’ve never been truly seasick, but am prone to a little motion sickness now and again.) I didn’t listen to myself, and kept taking photos, looking through the binoculars, checking the map. Finally, I realized that wasn’t going to work. So I laid down in the berth to ride out the nausea. In the meantime, the boat got side whacked by a wave and drawers fell out. As the waves continued to be wrangled by Les T the helm, other items fell on the cabin floor from various perches. I watched from my nest in the berth, and understood what the phrase, “batten down the hatches” meant. Les remained at the helm, and periodically leaned over to the berth to tell me, 10 more miles, 5 more miles, almost there.
As we drew closer to the bay, I felt a little better and righted some of the fallen items. When we got to the bay, I felt good enough to witness and take a short video of the first launch of the anchor with our windlass from inside. (The first time Les had to go out on the bow to unlatc￼h a cotter pin, but after that we left it unlatched so as to be able to lower it from inside. A very nice benefit.) I woke up wanting to bake something. So I finished stowing fallen items, and pulling out my Omnia stove, which acts as an oven on the stovetop. We had better data service, so I looked up recipes and was so inspired that I also made chicken and rice in our small crockpot, using the solar battery to power it.
In the meantime, Les had been listening to his favorite lady about weather, checking Environment Canada’s forecasts and buoy reports. It sounded like we’d need to stay put, instead of trying to slog it out with even higher winds, which equals higher waves (It’s a theme.) I was happily cooking, and a little relieved that we’d get another day to pause. Our pace has been rigorous, not because we have a timetable, but I think more so, because we’re both so excited to get to Alaska. Weariness, weather and wisdom prevailed. I baked muffins and Les decided to take a nap. We ate a hearty lunch of chicken and rice with the muffins. We watched the day pass by, as other boaters joined our anchorage in this quiet little bay. Sailboats to one side, and power boats to the other, by design or default? Who knows? But those are the details that will become mundane, as we travel further along on the waterways.
(Photos below from our cruise from Sidney to north of Nanaimo
Recipe for Lemon-Ginger Cherry Muffins
- 2 cups Bisquik
- 2 chopped Gummy Bear brand Ginger Lemon candies
- 1t to 1T cinnamon
- 1/2 t ginger
- Pinch of cardamom, nutmeg and ground cloves
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1t oil or 1 egg
- 3/4 cup skim milk
Mix ingredients together in order. Scoop into greased muffin tin. Bake for 12-15 minutes in a 350F oven. Makes 6 muffins.
“Applause, everyone. Bravo, bravissimo! Shout God-songs at the top of your lungs! GOD Most High is stunning astride land and ocean. (Psalm 47:1-2 The Message)
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