WEEK ONE

So our summer cruising begins! Departing Brentwood Bay Lodge Marina on June 1st we headed out into beautiful Saanich Inlet. The wind was it’s usual variable self; some strong gusts when we could cut the engine (ahh…bliss!) and then dead calm when we had to motor. So we compromised and motor sailed! Luckily our self-furling head sail is easy to deploy.

Since a very good friend, Al, who has lived in Hawaii for the past (almost) 30 years was visiting Victoria for his youngest son’s graduation at the University of Victoria, we offered him a day out exploring local waters. As he is used to racing sailboats we weren’t sure how much he’d enjoy our very laid-back style. Plus the weather was turning (darn SE wind!) so we had a chance of showers to boot. Luckily the reciprocal dock at Sidney North Saanich Yacht Club had a space the night before so we spent the night there and departed the next morning. It turned out to be a great day as no rain fell and the wind was just perfect for a great sail.

Al at the helm

Al at the helm

By early afternoon we were ready to go ashore so we anchored off beautiful Russell Island. Nick and Al took the dingy to shore to walk the trail and read some of the history, which is particularly meaningful for someone who lives in Hawaii. In a nutshell during the 1700’s the Hudson’s Bay Company hired several hundred Hawaiians as labourers in the area. After their contracts expired many Hawaiians remained rather than return home where there existed disease and political tensions. Many of the families settled on Russell and surrounding islands and were able to stay connected as the distances were not too far to row between islands. In 1874 Russell Island was surveyed and became home to William Haumea who cleared land for orchards and other plants. Maria Mahoi inherits the land, marries Goerge Fisher and together in 1902 they settle on the island. Flowers that were planted by the Fishers are still in glorious bloom today!

Flowers blooming at the homestead site on Russell Island

Flowers blooming at the homestead site on Russell Island

They offered a warm and friendly place for all visitors to the island. In 1959 Russell was sold to another family who lived in the house during the summer months and did renovations over the next few years. Then in 1997 the island was sold again and is now protected as a Gulf Island National Reserve Park.

The island also has a First Nations connection. In 2013 a group of university students discovered 1000 year old clam gardens. Since then there is a volunteer presence on the island who illuminate both the Hawaiian and Aboriginal history. If you are interested in more details googling Russell Island will get you to several good sites.

After spending a couple nights anchored at Russell Island we headed back to Sidney North Saanich Yacht Club for another couple of nights. This enabled us to enjoy the Thursday night Sidney Street Market and visit with friends. As we are off cruising all summer we miss out on the summer events at home so this was fun to attend and enjoy some delicious treats!

On Friday we headed out again and spent the night in Ruxton Passage which is between De Courcy and Ruxton Islands in Haro Strait. A 6 AM start on Saturday was necessary to get to Dodd Narrows at slack water, which had us tied up at the Nanaimo Yacht Club by 8 AM! Another great visit with friends and we are off…..well, we hoped to be off until the weather had her say, blowing NW up to 25 knots north of Nanaimo. We decided to stay at the dock awaiting a more favorable wind, preferably one we could use to sail and not buck into! As I write this it is 36° Celsius (92° Fahrenheit) in the cabin! Needless to say, it is sweltering and we are anxious to ‘ship out’!