We made it this time!  We carefully timed our departure to safely negotiate the Swinomish Channel, followed by the oft-times treacherous Deception Pass.  Timing is everything, and the passage went without a hitch, until we began crossing Haro Straight, the larger, open channel of water between the San Juan Islands and Vancouver Island in Canada.  The timing wasn’t so good for this crossing, as the current was against us.  Our sturdy boat is known for stability, but not for speed.  She is very economical to run, using very little diesel fuel.  Our top speed is about 7 knots.  The current in Haro Straight was running against us at about 6 knots.  If you do the math, that means we were traveling at about 1 knot, just a little faster than a snail.  It felt like we were standing still.  After a couple of hours without making much headway, Captain Mike pushed the engine up a few additional RPMs and we broke out of our doldrums.

Seven hours after leaving La Conner, we pulled up to the Customs dock in Oak Bay, Canada.  We were a little nervous, this being our first experience with Customs on the boat.  Only one person may go to the office.  Anyone else must wait on the boat.  Mike took all our documentation, along with a mental list of the groceries we had on board.  The experience was almost anticlimactic.  The Customs office was not manned.  Checking in just involved picking up a phone and talking to a Customs officer in a remote location.  The questions mainly centered around alcohol, tobacco, and firearms which were not a problem for us, so we passed our first trial with flying colors.  Not bad, eh?

Ready to be off the boat, we went for a walk around the little town of Oak Bay.  We ate dinner at a little French bistro named Vis a Vis.  We highly recommend eating here if you ever are in Oak Bay.  We weren’t really expecting anything great, but the food was fabulous!  We rounded out the day by purchasing some produce at a sidewalk market, and hopping back on the boat.

The next morning, we made our way around to the other side of Vancouver Island.  It would have taken about 30 minutes to transit the width of the island in a car, but remember, we are in a slow boat, and going around the long way.  It took us most of the day to reach our destination, but the trip was well worth it.  We anchored in a beautiful, sheltered spot, Tod Inlet.  There happened to be a huge population of white jellyfish in the water, which was just a magical phenomenon.  We took our kayaks out and gently paddled among them, taking time to just sit and watch their graceful movements.


We also enjoyed watching the Purple Martins, as they flocked to their fanciful birdhouses perched on top of piers in the water.

bird houses

Speaking of birds, these little cuties came to visit on our boat railing.  We call it the “preen and poop” station, because that’s what they did.  We had to call out the bucket and scrub brush brigade afterward.

birds on rail

The reason for our trek to Tod Inlet, was to get to the nearby Butchart Gardens.  This land had once been a lime mine for a cement plant.  Mr. Butchart owned the plant, which was a very profitable enterprise.  When the mine finally closed down, the land had been gouged and scraped, and wasn’t very appealing.  But Mrs. Butchart had a vision to turn it into a paradise of plants.  She left an amazing legacy of beauty.  It is astounding what a vision (and a lot of money!) can do.  I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves:

One other highlight of our time at the Garden was attending a high tea in the afternoon.  Mike had promised to fulfill this wish of mine at the Empress Hotel the next time we visited Victoria.  I told him that I would release him from that obligation (which I think he had forgotten about anyway), if he would take me to tea at Butchart.  Being the smart and gallant man that he is, he humored me.  We had a fantastic time sampling the little bites of savory and sweet foods, and we each had our own pot of tea.  This meant that we were up all night, but that’s a story we’ll save for another time.

With company coming to meet us at Anacortes, we journeyed back to the San Juan Islands.  We keep pretty busy in retirement, but it’s a great kind of busy!

6 thoughts on “Canada

  1. Ahhh…more lovely adventures. And…we must say, that’s the first time we’ve seen someone take a selfie with jellyfish…gives a whole new meaning to being at one with nature…ha, ha. Keep those stories coming…we love them…and you guys too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The gardens you visited are way up there on my bucket list. Great to learn you can have tea there too! I am soooo jealous! In His faithful love, Vicki

    Liked by 1 person

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