After taking leave of our friends, we headed north in earnest. We wanted to check out the area of Desolation Sound, which we had heard is quite beautiful, with lots of anchorages. In order to get there, we would have to cross the Strait of Georgia, a large body of water susceptible to rough water. Checking the weather is very important before crossing, because high wind can whip up waves and make for an unpleasant transit. We were fortunate, and all was calm in the Strait. We had a long day of travel: 50 miles at 7mph takes time. Just as we set out, we had the almost mystical pleasure of watching a pair of orcas swimming near us. They didn’t jump or do any fancy tail flops, but we enjoyed their majestic dorsal fins rising and falling through the water as they swam.
We docked that evening at the charming little town of Lund. Lund bills itself as the “Gateway to Desolation Sound,” and has the added distinction of being located at “Mile Zero of Highway 101.” For all you Californians who’ve spent time on that particular highway, if you follow it to its end (or its beginning), you will find Lund.
We found a great little store in Lund where we were able to purchase charts of the areas we’d be visiting. Charts are like roadmaps for bodies of water, and most importantly, they tell you where unseen obstructions lie beneath the innocent looking water. We were happy to have these charts to help us on our journey. We stopped by a pub and sat in the sun. Our waitress said we simply must try a Canadian favorite: Poutine. She couldn’t believe we had never heard of it. We are always game to try something new, so we ordered it. Imagine a pile of French fries, topped with a couple of cheese curds, some pot roast and mushrooms with a thin but tasty gravy. We enjoyed it, but decided that it couldn’t be a frequent treat. Poutine isn’t for the health-conscious!
The next morning we got underway and headed into Desolation Sound.
A grand view of magnificent mountains awaited us around each turn! We anchored for the night in Laura Cove, where we had to stern tie. Stern tying means that after you anchor, you run an additional line from the stern (rear) of the boat, and secure it to shore. This keeps the boat from swinging around. Why would this be necessary? Because the bay was small, and with several boats, there would have been some collisions without a stern tie. Even though we’d stern tied before, it finally occurred to us to “slip” the line and bring back the end to be tied to the boat. The tidal change is about 16 feet here, so a knot tied on shore might be too high to reach at low water. Each time we do something, we learn how to do it better and easier the next time.
We stayed at quiet Laura Cove for a couple of nights, and took advantage of the time to do a couple of boat projects: Mike tightened the gland packing on the engine shaft, and I oiled the teak deck that Mike had spent so much time working on last winter. It is a great visual improvement over last year. But boating shouldn’t be all work, so we got in some good kayaking and eagle watching along with mountain gazing.
The next day was another 50-mile day as we explored Toba Inlet. We called it “waterfall day.” Every time we turned a corner, there was another waterfall. “Oooh, look at that one!” “Ahhh, that’s a beauty!” Superlatives were in short supply. There is just so much beauty to behold that words can’t convey. We ended the day at Roscoe Bay, another stern-tie day.
Roscoe Bay was a lovely spot to stay. There were eagles to watch, and we love that. There were harbor seals, and mother ducks taking their baby ducks on outings past our boat. We enjoy watching the wildlife, and there have been a few tussles over our one pair of binoculars! A couple of additional treats at this anchorage, were the wildflowers (foxglove), and a freshwater lake just a short hike away.
We’ve written in the past about the learning curve of boating. Roscoe Bay afforded us one more learning experience: When anchoring, our division of labor has been for Mike to lower the anchor and let out the appropriate amount of chain, while I operate the engine, backing up the boat, maneuvering into the wind, etc. As I mentioned, we then secured a stern tie. There is a flurry of activity at these times, and we have been starting to feel like a well-oiled machine. A little prematurely.
When we pull up the anchor, we have the same jobs, only in reverse. The next morning, we prepared to leave. We released the stern line, and I started up the engine. At least, I tried to. “Mike! The engine won’t start!” This precipitated an electrical track-it-down mission, with amp meters, screwdrivers, trips to the engine room, and general puzzlement. Finally, Mike decided to hot-wire the engine to start it, planning to head to a less remote area where parts might be available, if needed. The engine was successfully hot-wired and we were still kind of scratching our heads, when I looked up and saw us headed toward the rocky-cliffed shore. The engine was in gear! Yikes! Major catastrophe averted just in time, and lesson learned: Unless the transmission is in neutral, the engine won’t start. But if you hot-wire it, beware, if it’s in gear, it’s going to travel! You might say “Duh” here, but really, it’s an easy mistake to make. I provide most of the learning curves we experience, I’m afraid. I’m not naturally mechanically inclined, but I do learn – usually the hard way.
Since we’re on the topic of anchoring, we did have an unusual experience at Squirrel Cove. There were a number of boats present already, so we looked for a good anchorage far enough away that we wouldn’t crowd anyone. We found a perfect spot behind a small island, sheltered from wind and providing a good depth for anchoring. We let the anchor out and were backing away to “set” it. All of a sudden, the boat lurched, and just stopped in the water. Now, that’s unusual, we thought, as we looked at each other. We investigated, and found that the anchor had snagged on a submerged log of telephone pole proportions, and that somehow the chain had wrapped around it. Hmmm, what to do? Mike got in the dinghy, I hauled the log up vertically with the anchor chain, and using a screwdriver, little by little, Mike eased the chain upwards until it slipped over the top of the log, which dropped away – voila! But we got out of that spot and anchored elsewhere. You just never know what you’re going to come across in any given day.
After Desolation Sound, we explored the Octopus Islands, which were also beautiful, but tricky to navigate. There are lots of submerged rocks that you have to zig and zag through. Good practice.
That brings us up to date. We are still in Canadian waters, but will cross into US territory tomorrow or the next day. We’re just getting started, but we’ve had adventures already! We’re loving each day that comes.
This is Greg, who belongs to the Lummi tribe of First Nation People. He paddled his canoe up to our boat and we had a nice conversation before buying one of his carvings which were wrapped up in the towel. Can you guess which one we chose?