I'm Matt, a software engineer and boating enthusiast based in Washington State (but on the move). I started Hermit Cove Boats, offering cool skin and frame boat plans and kits. Check it out!
We’ve traveled through the Gulf islands now, the Canadian islands that are next to the San Juan islands in the U.S. We set out from Victoria under sail, and with the wind on our nose and the tide at our back we were sailing over ground at up to 9 knots. It was awesome. Then we turned the corner and entered a back eddy. And the wind died. And we struggled to go forward at all. Eventually we turned the motor on and proceeded to Sidney Spit. It takes patience to get somewhere under sail in here. The next day we motored a short distance to Portland Island. It wasn’t our destination, but it looked too lovely to pass up. It was our first time anchoring in a small bay and tying our stern to shore. In the morning we could see the bottom right there off our stern, but with both sides secured we stayed in deep water.
Our next stop was Ganges, on Saltspring island. We managed to sail that vast majority of that trip, light wind at first and then building. We sailed dead downwind under jib alone into the crowded harbour. The guide book says that in summer you can walk across the bay on the decks of anchored boats. We tied to the marina, which like all marinas up here cost too much. The town is a funky tourist town with art galleries and the like. We needed the town for two pressing reasons: charts for our next trip and a working alternator. They had no alternators for us, and the chart place would not be open till the next morning. I took our alternator apart and finally removed the stupid capacitor that the previous owner had installed. Luck was with us and the alternator worked again.
The next morning we wanted to be in Active Pass at slack tide, but the chart store didn’t open until 9:30am. It was a race. We pulled the boat into the public dock closest to the chart store and ran in, bought three charts and ran back out. We were in Active Pass right at slack tide, but still the currents flowed both ways strongly. It was a thrilling ride, a tiny cliff walled channel between two islands. The big ferries go through and several did. As we entered the channel down the middle, a big one turned the corner and came into view. We steered for shore and bit our nails, but we were easily out of its way. Later in the day the wind picked up and we sailed into Nanaimo, rounding a tiny island topped with a lighthouse.
Nanaimo is the next biggest city after Victoria, and marks the last busy port on our trip. From here on out we hope to be in rural, out of the way spots. It will be nice to escape the megayachts. Nanaimo is a cute town blessed with an amazing island and marine park (Newcastle Island) just off its shores. We are anchored along side the park, in easy rowing distance of the Dinghy Dock Pub, which in defiance of all logic has the best beer prices we’ve found in Canada. Bottoms up!