August 19th: Up at 6:00am and headed up Jervis. Destination: Chatterbox Falls at the end of Princess Louisa Inlet--a narrow arm that juts off of Jervis. Jake is at the wheel where he remains all day. Mountains tower on both sides of the channel, some of them snow-capped. Thanks to the heavy snow and late thaw, we spot a do zen or so waterfalls; most are high in the mountains and just a trickle by the time they reach the water. Willow gets into the vacation spirit by taking a break from binky deprivation. Despite the gorgeous scenery, Jen tries to keep her trigger finger at bay, remembering the arduous process of culling Cambodia/Korea photos. After a bit of sailing, we reach the entrance point for Malibu Rapids around 2:00 pm about an hour and a half before slack. Jen and Willow nap (Jen tries to nap while Willow kicks her and jumps on her back). Jake takes the boat in slow circles, while he listens to the radio for boats giving notice of their entrance to the rapids. (“35 foot powerboat inbound on Malibu Rapids” ) Only one boat at a time can transit. Powerboats are the first to charge into the roiling water, while the less powerful sailboats hang back, waiting for slack. Around 3:00 the water starts to calm. Jake and the skipper of a sailboat that arrived about the same as we did agree that they will go first. Around 3:30 we enter Malibu Rapids at slack. On the left as you enter is a Christian camp with a huge totem pole and pool right next to the rapids. The spot looks so idyllic it almost makes us consider enrolling Willow. Once through the rapids, Chatterbox Falls is another hour north up Princess Louisa. As we get close, a powerboat that entered the rapids behind us jets ahead, hoping to get a prime spot at the falls. Then we hear over the radio a warning to the powerboat to reduce its speed. The powerboat doesn’t hear it or ignores the warning. Seconds later a skiff speeds toward the powerboat to deliver another warning. The powerboat slows. As we round the final corner, into a bay of sheer cliffs, Chatterbox Falls is visible in all its frothy white glory. Far above it are two skinny falls that likely feed into it. Typically, only Chatterbox is still running this late in the summer, but in addition to the two falls above Chatterbox, there are a number of others still spilling into the anchorage. There’s a dock lined with boats to the right of the falls. But, we opt for a bit more seclusion. We try anchoring in two different spots, one to the left of the Chatterbox and another just near another smaller falls. No luck. We slip in the first spot. The second spot is so deep that we’re worried with all the scope we put out that we’ll float into the canyon wall at some point. Defeated, we head for the dock where a spot just big enough for Iguazu has just opened up. Three people materialize to grab our lines. This is fortunate, since just as we are getting ready to pull up, Willow, who has fallen asleep on the bench in the cockpit, wakes up crying and rolls off onto the floor, making her cry even harder. Nonetheless, Jen keeps her cool and flawlessly pulls the into the dock. From where we’ve tied up we have a lovely view of the falls. Not so bad after all. Willow throws a class A tantrum because she doesn’t want to have her diaper changed. Jen and Jake open a bottle of wine before changing the diaper. Diaper changed, we take the short walk to the bottom of the falls. Beautiful! The force of the water hitting the rocks kicks up a thick mist, so that it’s difficult to get close to take pictures. We pose on a nearby rock for family photos with the waterfall as our backdrop, using the camera’s self-timer. After our walk, we barbecue some salmon and settle in for the night. One downside to being so close to the civilization on the dock--the boat in front of us decides to run their generator for several hours. Thankfully, they finally shut it off around 9pm, and we fall asleep to the roar of the falls.
August 20th: A glorious night! Only one wake-up to turn off the heat when the cabin got a bit too hot. Unfortunately, Jake wakes up feeling nauseous. At Willow’s request, Jen makes a spectacular veggie and salami scramble but Jake feels too queasy to eat and Willow has changed her mind. We spend the morning relaxing and enjoying the views of the falls from the cockpit. After our lounging interlude, we jump in the dinghy to circumnavigate the anchorage. First we pause in front of Chatterbox to snap a few photos. As we motor on, we notice even more falls. We continue on to a small nook across the way where a freshwater stream rushes out over the rocks out to mix with the saltwater. There we beach the dinghy and walk up a short distance as the roar of water gets louder. With Willow in the baby backpack, the muddy hike is a bit dicey, but no one falls. Then, a large waterfall appears. It’s about 50 feet high. We have an option to hike higher, but it’s very very steep and we decide it’s too dangerous with the backpack. We climb down to the pool at the base of the falls. Jen snaps a few pictures and takes off her shoes to test the water. Brrrr! Willow has no interest. The noise of the water crashing on the rocks seems to make her a little skittish. We walk back down to the dinghy, roll up our pants, take off our shoes and cavort in the saltwater. The water is crystal clear and surprisingly warm--not Caribbean warm, but not extremity-numbing cold either. Willow plays with shells and throws rocks. Jen and Jake chat with our dock neighbors who have just returned from the hike to the higher falls. Eventually, we leave this idyllic spot for further exploration. We’re still thinking we might want to leave the dock to anchor. We troll the perimeter of the canyon, catching sight of a few new waterfalls. The clarity of the water allows us to see that in most places, the bottom drops off abruptly 20 feet or so from the shore to 200+ feet. This leads us to the conclusion that anchoring is not a wise choice. We meander back to the dock and spend a quiet afternoon reading and napping. The temperature is nice, probably 80 degrees outside and 84 inside the boat.
Jake goes up to the GPS because he wants to check the depths around the Inlet when he finds a big problem! The GPS/Nav unit is not working. We try many different ways to get it to come on to no avail. We then start looking through our charts and realize that we will have to make it back with charts and slide rulers. The, Jen suggests looking at the iPad. The Navionics App has the charts but we really do not know how accurate it will be. We look at the tide book and see that we have 2 choices to leave the next day: 6:00a and 12:58p. Since it’s a 6 hour trip back, we decide that we’ll wake up at 5:20, be underway by 5:30a and to Malibu Rapids by 6a for slack water.
After some hard decisions, it’s time for some fun. So, we get off the boat and go for a walk. We stroll over to the beach in front of the falls. Willow starts picking up rocks and throwing them. Over and over and over. Then, she begins commanding Mommy to sit on a specific rock and Daddy to sit on another rock. If we do not do as she says, she begins screaming. Ahh, toddlerhood.
Jen wants to walk toward the falls, but Willow is having none of it. Every time we start walking in the direction of the falls, she starts yelling “boat” and pointing at the dock. So, we will not get one last look at the falls close-up. We walk, hand in hand, back to the boat. Willow is not ready to actually get on the boat, so we walk the length of the dock, saying hello to every boat dog.
Back on the boat 30 minutes later, we decide to cook soup for dinner because Jake is still feeling queasy. Jake warms up soup, while Jen makes a mint, salt and watermelon salad (which is fantastic). Willow eats the soup with her hands, declares she wants no watermelon, then eats 4 pieces of watermelon.
Willow goes to sleep surprisingly easy. As the boat in front of us turns on its generator, we fall asleep.
August 21st: The alarm goes off at 5:20a and we’re off. Jen at the helm, Jake pushing off the dock, we get going as the sky begins to show some light. Strangely, the GPS/Nav is working perfectly, not even a flicker. Jake pulls out the iPad to make sure its in sync with the GPS and it is! As we motor out, we’re sad to leave but it’s clear the weather is starting to turn. The sky is full of clouds and it’s much cooler.
We get 20 minutes toward the entrance, when we come upon MacDonald Island. We had both kind of forgotten about it. It’s a cute little islan in the Inlet with towering cliffs on either side. There are 6 morring buoys, 2 of which are empty. After a short discussion, we turn hard right and pick up a mooring buoy! We’re not going to leave quite yet.
We make an oatmeal breakfast, get Willow dressed, put on her life vest and get into the dinghy. We can hear roaring water and see a stream pouring into the Inlet, so we head that way. There’s a perfect rock beach for the dinghy, we land and go ashore. There’s no waterfall, but there is a powerful stream or creek coming out of the mountains. It sounds and looks like a big rapids. Willow goes back to her favorite pasttime of rock-throwing while Jen photographs this idyllic spot.
The tide is coming up and the dinghy is floating, so we make our way back and motor past the boat to a little dinghy dock on another part of the shore. We get out of th dinghy, climb up a rock and start to follow a trail when we see our first snake. It’s about two feet long and black with a yellow stripe (Garter Snake). We avoid the snake and head to a the beach. This one is a rocky beach with a small island in front of it, forming a nice little cove. Willow resumes rock-throwing and Jen resumes photographing. Jen then gives up the camera and spend 15 minutes trying to throw a rock at the island. She takes Willow up to a rock to get closer to the island, so that Jen can hit the island with a rock. She is then successful. We sit on the rock and look at the scenery when Jen realizes that her hat, sunglasses and Willow’s life vest will likely soon float away, as the tide is rising. At about the same, time, we see several boats leaving the Inlet. This doesn’t make sense because slack is not for another 90 minutes. We decide to go back to the boat to double-check the slack time. We had the time right, but Jake uses the radio to ask one of the other boats what’s up. He learns that there is no current in the rapids because the tidal difference is only 1.5 feet. So, we eat some hot dogs (actually “cheese smokies”) and get going.
Willow falls asleep before we get to the rapids and Jen spends an hour cleaning the boat. We both take showers before Willow wakes. About halfway back, the wind really picks up. We have 20kts of wind on the nose and our speed is down to 4.7kts (from 6.5kts). The air is also a lot chillier. We decide we should probably stay in a Marina. We need fuel anyway and it seems like the weather is taking a turn for the worse. We haven’t been able to get a weather forecast for a few days. Jen gives Willow a bath in the galley sink. She can barely fit--what a difference a year makes. On last year’s trip to Desolation Sound, the sink-bath was one of her favorite spots.
Eventually, we begin to hear the marine forecast on the VHF and it’s not good. High Wind Warning and strong rain. Cell service returns sporadically. We call ahead to Back Eddy Marina and they have a slip available! We pull in just before they close at 6p and fill up with water, diesel and fuel for the dinghy. As we begin to fuel up, a motor boat goes by and the wake slams Iguazu against the dock. This is not a protected marina. Oh well. We tie up for the night, meet fellow sailors (with dogs and cats), make pasta, and go to sleep.
August 22nd: Jake wakes up at 1:30a to a howling wind. The boat is rocking and Jakes decides to check the lines. Jen and Willow are asleep. He gets outside and gets hit with a hard gust: 35kts according to the anemometer. The dock lines are holding strong. Jake is glad he put on the extra spring line the night before. He goes back to sleep. The rain starts about an hour later and wakes Jake and Jen up because the hatch is open. Back to sleep. A few more wake-ups in the storm and then at 6:45a a loud beeping. The power cord has come loose. Jake jumps up and fixes it. Then, everyone is up. The weather is not good. Steady 20 kt wind and hard driving rain. We decide not to get going-- but instead stay put. We are about 1 mile from Skookumchuck Rapids (translates to Strong Water), which attain a speed of 16kts at their maximum. So, the water near the marina gets going at about 6kts. So, here’s the situation, we have a 20 kt wind going SE and a 6 kt current going the opposite direction. We have huge waves going by and bucking the boat into the dock. At times, we can see the bow of the boat go up to a 20-30 degree angle. And there’s nothing to be done about it. We can’t go anywhere, it’s just too dangerous. So, Jake puts six bumpers on the side of the boat, adds 2 more dock lines and hopes for the best. By 9:30a, the Marine Forecast is for a full gale. The anemometer is clocking gusts around 35 and there now a gale warning. The rain comes in waves. Willow takes an early nap. Jake and Jen hang out on the dock to keep from getting seasick. Around 12:45, Willow wakes up and we make the decision to move the boat from the fuel dock to the inside of the dock. This is no easy feat. The 65 foot motor boat in front of us has been inching closer all day. By the time we decide to move, the boat’s menacing anchor is probably 10 feet from our bow. We have a sailboat about the same distance from our stern. Jake and a dockhand brave the dogs onboard the motorboat and 35 mph gusts to move the motorboat back. Despite the winds blowing us onto the dock, Jake expertly pulls us out, thanks to a big push from the dockhand and our engine nearly maxed out. Once we’re settled into a spot on the other side, we grab the baby backpack and head in to explore Egmont. Our exploration doesn’t take long. Other than the marina we’re staying at, there is a lodge (more on that later), a general store and a phenomenal bakery. We stop at the store for milk (they’re all out), yogurt and a magnetic cat plush toy that we didn’t know we needed until Willow said: “Cat please, Daddy.” From there we head to the bakery, which turns out to be tucked back on a lush rainforested dirt road on the way to Skookumchuk Rapids. Luckily, the cash-only operation takes USD, since we still haven’t made it to an ATM. We sit at the bar on the deck looking out at trees dripping with moss and enjoying samosas and a raspberry bar. After, our lunch we discuss taking the walk to the rapids. While we’ve been eating the bakery has started to buzz with returning hikers, fueling up after their sojourn to the rapids. (We had earlier in the day toyed with the idea of waking Willow up to go see the rapids at maximum flood, but experience has taught us that waking a sleeping baby is about as dangerous as poking a sleeping bear.) It’s a tough decision because we know that if we do the walk, we’ll be here in Egmont another night. Ultimately, we decide that given the lousy weather, we just as soon spend some time playing on land and have the security of a marina tonight. We head out for the rapids, Willow ensconced in her baby backpack and leaning, as always, strongly to the left. A couple of people returning from the rapids see Jen toting the leaning tower of toddler and warn us that it’s not an easy stroll. We expect the worst, but it is a lovely 1:15 walk on a hilly but nice wide path through the rainforest with interpretive signs along the way. We arrive at a lookout point for the rapids. Because we’ve arrived close to slack, we see a tugboat struggling to pull a house boat downstream toward Sechelt. We snap some photos and head back--our feet aching (not a single one of us wearing the proper footwear for a hike; Willow is barefoot at this point) and our water gone (Willow has spent the trip sucking the last several ounces of water out of the Camel Back). We decide to stop at the lodge next door to our marina. The dining room has huge windows overlooking the water. We order drinks and wait for dinner service to start. Miraculously, even with a 4+ hours in the baby backpack under her belt, Willow makes it all the way through drinks, appetizers and dinner without complaint. By the time, we’re enjoying our last bites, she is running around the table shrieking. We order dessert to go.
August 23rd: We wake up around 6:30, ponder leaving and then a driving rain starts. We hang out for a half hour and catch up on email. Around 7, we pull out for Hotham Sound. The water is calm and there’s almost no wind. At Hotham, we stop to admire the long waterfall that drops from Freil Lake to the sound. We explore the anchorages at the Harmony Islands--nice but not spectacular; the falls are definitely the highlight. We push on for Blind Bay. We enter through a narrow passage with Jen at the bow watching for rocks. Inside there are two possible anchorages, one more protected but next to private land and the other less protected but right off of the Musket Island marine park. We opt for less protected and spend half an hour anchoring and doing a stern tie in a 10 kt SE blow. We are thankful no one is around to see our somewhat clumsy and at times panicked, but ultimately successful, effort. We eat lunch and then dinghy to shore to check the marine park. It ends up being rather rocky, but Willow enjoys jumping from crag to crag and picking the sticky yellow flowers. Back on the boat, Willow asks for hot dogs, then refuses to eat any once they are cooked. We watch 3 other boats try to anchor near us (near Musket Island) and each gives up. We don’t know whether to feel proud of our anchoring job or afraid we made a terrible mistake. Another boat pulls in later; a solo boater on a 40 ft old sailboat. He tries anchoring near us 3 times and his anchor keeps slipping (Jake watches as the guy’s boat drifts toward us). Eventually, the guy manages to anchor across from us. Willow wants to play in some water. The water around the boat is too cold, so Jen grabs the bucket, mixes boiling water and sea water and Willow hops in. Next, we make a steak dinner. Then after dinner, we are down below when Jake notices something strange up above and runs up. The wind has shifted (forecast said it would not). We are pulling hard on our stern line and the other guy is almost on the rocks! He has 3 lines tied and none is keeping him off the rocks. He has to re-tie. We don’t. We’re either lucky or... After dark, we go grab the boat hook and dunk it in the water to see the phosphorescence. It’s amazing to see the trails in the water and then to see fish glow as they go by. Very cool. We download an “anchor alarm” ipad app and go to sleep.
August 24th: We wake up in the same place we went to sleep but it looks dramatically different. The tide has gone out 11 feet and our stern line is draped from it’s holding place onto a log that was previously submerged. Jake starts pulling the stern line off and it gets snagged on the log. He jumps in the dinghy and rows to shore. He jumps out of the dinghy and immediately realizes that he forgot to tie up first. The dinghy is floating away! With help from Jen, Jake manages to use the stern line like a lasso to grab the dinghy and maneuver it back to shore. He gets back to the boat and we head off to Buccaneer Bay. About 3 miles into the journey, we listen to the marine forecast and learn that a strong nortwesterly is coming. We also realize that most of the beach at Buccaneer will be underwater soon at high tide (4 hour trip from Musket to Buccaneer). We decide to skip it and go straight to Jedediah Island. The trip through Malaspina Strait is nothing like last year’s wild/horrible ride. This year, it’s mostly calm. As we round the corner of Jedediah to get to Deep Bay, Jake has doubts. The chart shows that “Deep Bay” is extremely shallow - 4-5 feet deep. Just as he says, “we’re not going in there unless other boats are there” we round the corner and see that the little cove is FULL of boats. We make our way into the narrow bay - this is going to be a difficult anchor and stern tie. Luckily, a man in a skiff offers to help. He grabs our stern line and ties it for us! The anchorage is so tight, we have to yell to other boaters to find out where their chain lays - so we don’t cross.
Anchored and comfortable, we hop in the dinghy and go ashore. We follow the extremely helpful park signs and take a long walk on the island with Willow in the baby backpack. When she’s not walking, Willow is happy to be in the backpack - which is good because the ground is covered in poop from wild sheep abandoned here by the Spanish 300 years ago. We never see the sheep, but we see the poop, and we spend a lot of time convincing Willow not to pick up the poop. We do see some spectacular vistas during the hike. Eventually, Willow falls asleep in the backpack and we put her down on a rock beach while we eat lunch. After she wakes, we continue on to Long Bay. Another great vista! Willow eats some lunch, then we head back to the boat. During the hike back, Jen says she’s not feeling well. We worry out loud that she has Jake’s illness from a few days ago. Back on the boat, we find out that the concern was justified. Jen does her best to stay in bed for the rest of the night. Jake and Willow eat watery soup. Jake is also worried about the weather. The “all-weather anchorage” has a wind howling through at 5-15 knots. Jake is sure we are inching closer to other boats, so he grabs a line (former furling line) and adds it as a 2nd stern line. It does the trick. No late-night crashes. Jen falls asleep at 8p and sleeps until the alarm wakes us up.
August 25th: The aforementioned alarm wakes us up at 5:35a. We want to get out into the Strait while we have the current going East (down the Strait) and we have a 5 hour journey with the current turning at 11a. Luckily, the boat that had anchored over our anchor is already leaving. So, we pull off the stern lines and Jen expertly holds the boat in place despite the 15kt broadside breeze while Jake pulls up the anchor. We check the forecast; no change - NW 10-15. Sounds like we’re a go! One problem: Whiskey-Golf is active and the military is testing torpedoes. So, we have to make an immediate choice about whether to go to Silva or Nanaimo. The Strait is relatively calm, so we decide to go the extra distance and head for Silva. The decision is a sound one for about another hour. We’re traveling down the Strait at 6.6kts running with the sails out. Then, things take a turn for the worse: the seas have built, we have to stay out of the firing range and the wind has picked up. We are now in 4 foot seas with 20 kts of wind. It was not a great idea to head for Silva. Well, too late now. Willow and Jen are holed up on the v-birth, Jen still feeling wiped out from the bug she caught; Jake is at the helm. While Jen tries to get some rest, while Willow intermittently plays with the iPad and rests. Seconds after Willow demands the iPad, she begins puking vast quantities of liquid all over the v-berth (un-washable cushions, of course), the iPad and Jen. As the boat bumps wildly, Jen tries to clean up Willow and the berth, without throwing up too. After taking off Willow’s wet clothes, Jen puts Willow down in her tent where she falls fast asleep. We don’t know if she has the illness we have had or if she’s seasick. Jen pours little mountains of baking soda on each of the vomit spots (coincidentally, Jen had just wondered aloud the day before why we were carrying two boxes of baking soda), looks for errant chunks and then comes upstairs, feeling three shades of green. As the scene below plays out, Jake realizes we need to get to Silva quick. Jake gets on the VHF and radios on Channel 16 to Winchelsea Control. “Winchelsea Control, this is Iguazu - 35 foot sailing vessel requesting special permission to cross the end of the range because I have a vomiting toddler.” Response is immediate: “Permission granted, you have 30 minutes.” Several other boats radio in asking for permission to cross the range. They are all denied. “Live torpedoes in the water.” Truthfully, the Strait is not horrible, but it’s terrible to be down below in seas like this!
Willow is still asleep and we are 30 minutes from Silva when things calm a bit. When we get into the entrance to Silva, it’s a little slice of heaven - the water is calm, the wind dies down and the boat stops bucking. We head to the fuel dock, where we have permission to stop for 2 hours. It’s still blowing 15kts in the Bay and Jen maneuvers the boat to the dock. We fill up with diesel, Jake drops the fuel cap in the water (he does this once a season), and we move a temporary dock because the fuel dock guy is really really crabby. Jake grabs the sleeping bags, Willow’s clothes and blankets and head to the laundry room. He buys a new fuel cap and goes back to the boat. Eventually, we all get off the boat and have a pub lunch. We barely finish drying the clothes and sleeping bags (actually Jen’s still has some wet clumps of down) and we hop back on the boat to try to make Gabriola Pass at slack. We’re 10 minutes late, but there’s no real current, so we slip through. We have our hearts set on Herring Bay, but when we get there, we see that it’s high tide and there’s no protection from the northwesterly. We check out the South side of De Courcy, but it’s not protected from wake. So, back to Pirate’s Cove. Jen suggests a spot, Jake passes it by. Another boat takes it (bad Jake). So, Jake finds another spot acceptable to all parties, anchors and stern ties. We shorten the anchor chain and elongate the stern line (we have 300 feet out) so we can move in front of other boats. It’s quite warm, at least 80 degrees. Jake surprises everyone (including himself) and jumps into the water off the port side of the boat. He swims to the ladder and gets back in the boat so quickly, there is no time for a photo. Despite the drunken twenty-somethings frolicking happily in the water next to their newer, bigger Hunter just a couple boats down, the water is COLD. We head ashore where Willow proves that the morning’s barfing episode was just seasickness. She is hopping around, running and playing in the tide pools. We get back in the Dinghy and go on a ride to the next bay (which we can do because it’s a +12 tide. We then go to the other side of Pirate’s Cove and go for a hike. Willow decides she likes all the trees and cannot pass a tree without touching it, inviting her parents to touch it, and sometimes hugging it. Back on the boat, we make bbq chicken and corn, drink a Spring Valley Cab Franc, listen to two boaters yell at each other over being too close together, and we go to bed.
August 26th: We had planned to sleep in, but at 6a the depth alarm goes off. We must have drifted over seaweed or a very pointy rock, because we’re in 12 feet of water. Jake double checks and then falls back to sleep briefly and the alarm goes off again. We never figure out why, but the commotion wakes Willow up and that’s the end of sleeping for everyone. We get up and Jake looks around and sees 2 things. (1) The tide is out further than it should be and we’re going to have to leave the cove soon or we’ll be stuck inside. (2) A motor boat is aground; not just a little aground, but fully up on a rock, leaning to starboard and about to tip over. The guy must’ve come in after dark and anchored right on top of the reef. We’d like to help but realize that he needs someone with much more power than we can offer, plus the water is too shallow where he’s stuck for us to even motor over to offer our sympathies. Instead, we surreptitiously, snap a photo and then Tweet about the incident. To keep from ending up in the same position, we decide to stop gawking and get moving. As we leave the cove, we find that we have 1.8 feet beneath the keel. We thought we’d go to Herring Bay, but decide we’ve been there before and want to find somewhere new. So, we swing by Whaleboat Island, decide not to stop, go through Whaleboat Passage where we spot an eagle and then head down the Islands. We pass Clam Bay and Wallace Island. We discuss going to the other side of Saltspring Island to go to the bays there, but in the end, we motor on toward Walker Hook. We’ve passed Walker Hook and never stopped for two years running. This year, we anchor in front of the beach and quickly realize that the anchorage is totally exposed to the passing wake (the boat is rocking back and forth). We get in the dinghy and go ashore very quickly. The beach is fantastic: long, wide and empty. Willow runs around, picking up rocks and throwing them. It’s one of the first places we’ve been able to let her run completely free without worrying that she would fall down a cliff or trip on rocks. After an hour on the beach, we get back on the boat (it’s still rocking) and leave before anyone gets sick. Willow promptly falls asleep. We head across Trincomali Channel to Gray Peninsula - which is the backside of Montague Harbour Marine Park. We have visited this beautiful white-shell beach before on a hike (2 years ago), and said we’d anchor in front of it when we returned. So, we fulfill our promise to ourselves. Jake and Jen eat lunch on the boat and then go to shore when Willow wakes up. Willow plays on the beach and makes eyes at all the dogs, including a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, whose owner is kind enough to introduce the two of them (she also gave us all the details on this little known breed and some child-bearing advice as well). Willow also displays her rock-throwing prowess to anyone who will look her direction. We get back on the boat and decide to head for a marina for a night with a pool and restaurant. We take a slip at Otter Bay Marina and jump in the kids’ pool. It feels great. The restaurant is also better than expected. We try drying Jen’s sleeping bag again to get the clumps out. We have not yet reentered the V-birth since the vomit incident - it might as well have hazmat tape on the door. We worry about getting stopped by border patrol officials curious to know why we have copious amounts of white powder piled on our berth.
August 27: We decide to have a lazy morning. No 5a wake-up. Unfortunately, after deciding to sleep until 8a, Willow pops up at 6:30a. Luckily, she wakes up in a good mood and we have a relaxed morning (not a great idea, well explain later) with Jen reading and Jake manning the galley. It feels great to have the leisurely morning. The marina has an espresso machine and Jake goes for lattes. Jen and Willow use the internet in the marina to download some new apps for Willow to use on the iPad. Eventually, we decide it’s time to go and set sail at 9:50a. On the way out, we pass dozens of jumping fish (salmon, we assume) and several bald eagles and ferries. As we approach Georgeson Passage, we start to get the sense that maybe the book was wrong. Maybe it DID matter if we entered it at slack; and maybe we should have arrived at the narrows at 9:45 and not 11:00a. We decide to go for it anyway. The water is quite rippled when we enter. The current quickly takes control of the boat. Jake puts the motor in idle and we’re still traveling at 8.5kts! Jake’s plan is to keep the motor in idle so if the current starts carrying us toward a rock, he can gun us forward and jolt the boat in the right direction. As we approach the first rock, the boat is going 9kts and Jake turns the rudder (he can feel it shaking). The boat glides past the rock. We enter the Strait of Georgia without hitting anything and take the sharp turn to starboard. We won’t do that again. In the Strait, it is calm. The current is against us but the trip along Saturna Island to Tumbo/Cabbage Islands is uneventful. Willow falls asleep in the warm sun and Jake steers us in. There are about 5 boats already in the bay, so we’re sure there is no mooring buoy available, but surprise! There are 3 buoys available. We grab one, read the directions (in French) to pay $10, and relax for a moment. We hop in the dinghy and head toward a beautiful white sand beach. It looks spectacular. We land and walk West. We’re walking across mussels, oysters, seaweed, kelp and reef. Willow is in the backpack (too hard for her to walk over this stuff). We’re at a +3.5 tide and tonight will be a +11.9. So, all of this will be underwater. But, it’s a fantastic walk on the reef. Lots to see and a beautiful vista. We see 3 otters playing during the walk and Jen spends a long time trying to photograph them. We decide to circumnavigate Cabbage island. It’s a long but terrific walk. We stop to take a family portrait, get back to the dinghy and go back to the boat. We’re shocked to learn that we were out for 3 1/2 hours! Back on the boat, we begin to make an early dinner since we never had lunch. Jen is chopping up a storm and we end up eating grilled halibut with an olive and tomato tapanade, grilled potatoes with cheese and onion, salad, and bloody marys. After lunch, we get back in the dinghy to go to the other island (Tumbo) to hike the trail. We put Willow back in the backpack and do a nice, forested hike with vistas of our boat. We are about halfway down the island, when our feast of a dinner begins to feel a bit heavy, as does who has fallen asleep in the bacpack. We turn around. Back in the dinghy, we do a tour of the area where we hiked a mere 6 hours ago. It’s almost completely underwater. We survey it from the dinghy, making sure not to hit any rocks with the propeller. Luckily, there’s no big swell tonight, because as the reef disappeared so did our protection from the Strait. A gorgeous sunset tops off the night. It’s the first unobstructed westerly view of the trip. We make the decision to stay here instead of getting to Sucia because it’s so beautiful here. We’ll see if we regret it in the morning...
August 28th: Alarm goes off at 5:15a (just like a work day). We look outside. It’s almost light, so we get up. The night has been calm. We get the boat started and going. Willow is still asleep. We have to carefully turn the boat past the reefs at Tumbo and Cabbage Islands. And, we’re off: heading Southeast to Anacortes. The first decision of the morning is whether to go North of Orcas Island or around it. If we go North, the distance will be 31 miles of mostly unprotected sailing in the Strait. If we go South, it will be mostly protected sailing, out of the Strait, but it will add 8 miles. Despite the forecast for fog, we decide to go the short route. Our careful reading of the currents pays off: we’re almost immediately going 7.5kts. The trip across the top of Orcas is uneventful. When we get to Rosario Strait, the promised fog arrives and now Willow is awake. The fog is dense - and visibility is sometimes 200 feet and sometimes 1/8 mile. Jake and Willow fight for possession of the iPad--Willow wanting to play itsy bitsy spider and Jake wanting to check AIS to see what other ship traffic is in the area. Jake ultimately wins, but not without much protest, making the trip through the fog just a bit more tense. Luckily, the radar is working. We pass a bunch of fishing boats. The guys must really want to fish in this cold fog. As we get close to the ferry traffic, we listen to the VHF closely. We can hear the ferry captains talking to a salvage captain about an operation in Thatcher Pass (a 60+ foot motor boat ran aground). We pass the ferry traffic without seeing them. Usually, when it’s foggy in the Strait, it’s not foggy in our marina. This is an exception. Jen expertly pulls the boat into our slip with fog so dense, we can’t see to the end of the dock. And, we’re back--another wonderful summer sailing trip!