Even though the northwest wind was howling we set off from Nanaimo Yacht Club as impatience to get going set in. Coming out of the Nanaimo Harbour is always an adventure; not only are there BC ferries and recreational fish boats to keep an eye out for but also the wind was blowing at 25 knots and the seas can get pretty choppy in that area of Georgia Strait. We are always prepared for a bit of a rough ride and usually that is exactly what we get! Initially we were going to anchor in Nanoose Harbour but eventually the water calmed down so we felt it an opportune time to head across the strait to False Bay at the top of Lasqueti Island, a familiar and safe anchorage. Once we got settled we discovered that our V-birth bed was wet! So out came all the bed linen, egg-crate and foam mattresses into the cockpit to dry. Nick discovered that in the rough seas when the anchor locker cover on the deck became dislodged a gush of sea water poured in and subsequently wet our cozy bed. No worries as the sun was out and the brisk breeze soon had everything dry.

Late the next afternoon, when the wind settled down a bit, we headed over to glorious Tribune Bay on Hornby Island. Anchoring there is only possible in settled weather as we found once many years ago when a strong southeasterly blew in! Anyway, this time the anchorage proved comfortable and allowed us to have a beach day!!!

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A diving duck visits KyanII! We noticed him land on the deck so took this shot through the screen from inside the cabin, hence the hazy picture. Love visits from our flying friends. We’ve had hummingbirds, song birds and even a heron land on KyanII in past adventures!

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Beautiful beach at Tribune Bay!

The stunning beach at Tribune Bay

The stunning beach at Tribune Bay

Setting off from Tribune we knew would be a long day, maybe 6 to 8 hours…..we didn’t expect 10 hours though! We departed early and ventured up the strait without much incident as the wind and water were agreeable. About 2PM however the wind kicked up fairly strong and we tried tacking back and forth for about an hour or so before we realized 2 things: 1. we were not making any headway, and 2. the wind was blowing stronger by the minute. This indicated that we needed to change plans for anchorages. We were initially hoping to end up in Drew Harbour by the lovely Rebecca Spit on Quadra Island but that would have meant at least another 3 hours going into a strong wind, which we were both not too keen on. So we headed over to Gorge Harbour, Cortes Island. Not the most desirable anchorage as it is busy and many private residences dot the shore, but also because in the past we discovered that there are no ‘dog-friendly’ shores which is a must when one of your crew members is a four-legged creature! Due to the continued strong wind warning we ended up staying there for 2 nights. Waiting for more favorable weather is a usual occurrence for all boaters!

Eventually we set off and headed over to Heriot Bay on Quadra Island for fuel and water. A little tricky getting up to the fuel dock which is nestled beside the ferry dock and dealing with another strong wind and choppy waters! Luckily Captain Nick is a very good yachtsman so we managed just fine. After fueling and watering up we had a lovely sail up Uganda Passage to Beasley Passage where we had to wait awhile for slack current. It is truly lovely in that area which is between Quadra and Reid Islands.  Another couple hours and we were anchored in our favorite, ‘dog-friendly’ anchorage in Waiatt Bay across from beautiful Octopus Island Marine Park.

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north of nanaimo 020 The sign on the island says ‘Octopus Islands Marine Park’

Since the forecast for Johnstone Strait was for light wind the next few days we decided not to linger so headed out the next day. Again we had to time our departure to be able to navigate upper and lower rapids at slack water. Once through there we made our way up the channel, across Discovery Channel and into another anchorage just south of Chatham Point called Otter Cove. From the anchorage there we could see cruise ships, fishing vessels (mostly seiners and trollers heading north before their opening), tugs and barges and pleasure boats.

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Tug and large barge transiting Discovery Channel just about to go around Chatham Point. We see lots of these going north!

Very early the next morning (because the wind really picks up in the afternoon and we did not want to be caught in notorious Johnstone Strait in inclement weather), we set out, hoping to see orca while transiting Chatham Point. No such luck this time! Initially the seas were manageable but eventually as the northwest wind picked up (and we are going into it) the going got a little rough trying to manage 4-5 foot waves so we headed into Mayne Passage into calmer water. Luckily we timed slack at Greene Point Rapids perfectly so managed to keep moving. Eventually we ended up back in Johnstone Strait but by then the seas were a little more settled so we decided to go across to one of our favorite anchorages at Helmcken Island. This cozy cove is not only protected from the wind but has a dog-friendly shore plus Nick likes to go and investigate an old burnt fishing vessel dragged up on the shore.

In the afternoon we thought we would try again to make headway Johnstone Strait so we pulled anchor and left our cove. As soon as we turned into the main passage (called ‘Current Passage’ on one side of Helmcken and ‘Race Passage’ on the other, giving you an idea of just how notorious the water there is!) we realized it would be slow going. But we didn’t realize that against a strong current and wind we would basically make no headway. So after about an hour and half of that and tail between our legs we headed back to Helmcken. We ought to know better! Now there’s a big note in our log not to mess with Johnstone against the current and into a strong wind! So, here I would just like to add that according to Marine Weather a Strong wind is 20-33 knots and a Gale Force is 34-44 knots. We generally like a wind up to 20 knots and preferably in a direction that will help us move forward!

That night, while firmly anchored in our cozy cove I laid in bed listening to the wind howl in our rigging. Not exactly a lullaby! I did fall asleep but about 1130 I woke up and have to admit I was anxious, while the captain snored away! I got up and checked the weather and about 10 minutes prior the coast guard had issued a gale warning in Johnstone Strait. Yep….I knew my fear was grounded in reality! So I watched outside for awhile and as we were steady on our anchor decided there was nothing I could do so went back to bed and miraculously fell asleep till morning!

The next morning early we left as the current (if not the wind) was going to help us move forward. A couple hours later, when the waves loomed larger and started coming over the bow we sought the shelter of a tiny passage. Once there we circled around while getting a few things done and noticed that there was a little sailboat tied close to shore and 3 people on a ridge on the small island. At first they just waved but a few minutes later beckoned us over. Nick jumped in the dingy and went to shore. The 3 fellows were part of the Race to Alaska (r2ak) and were holed up on this tiny island due to the strong wind. Their boat was a small, un-powered, open sailboat. After ensuring they were provisioned enough for their needs, and unable to provide what they needed (a hand-held radio) we parted ways. I discovered that their boat name was Dick Smiley and their team was called ‘Barefoot Wooden Boats’; they hailed from Gabriola Island. We were later able to find them on the www.racetoalaska.com/tracker

The next night we spent at Blenkinsop Bay along with a power boat, both of us waiting for the wind to settle before trying yet again to proceed north. Luckily the next morning was more settled so we made our way out into the strait and continued happily in much more settled weather past Port Neville and past Broken Islands where we turned and headed for Chatham Channel. Since we were a little early for slack there we toured around awhile in the rain, which didn’t matter ‘cause we were out of the strong wind and in flat calm water! After transiting the narrows we made our way to Port Elizabeth, where I had heard the crab are plentiful. Nick set a crab pot with a sacrificed ½ chicken breast as bait, took Tami to shore and not 45 minutes later we had 4 nice crab! That was easy! Wish it was always so! We then enjoyed crab cakes, crab salad and creamy crab penne over the next couple days.

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Nothing like fresh crab to adorn every dish!!!

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My herb garden aboard KyanII.

The sun was out, the water was calm, alone in the anchorage, we sat at anchor for a couple of days and enjoyed the rewards of boating! But as always, time to move on so we set sail for the next place in paradise! That turned out to be by Kumlah Island in Tribune Channel, where previous years we have seen hundreds of dolphins. A very special sight to behold! But this trip we only saw a few here and there; no big pods.

Our next anchorage was in Simoon Sound where we anchored nearby a big power boat, from which a friendly American couple came over in their dinghy to say hello. On the way in and while scouting a good spot we saw a mother black bear and her cub feeding along the shore. The first bear sighting of the season! Since it was so lovely there we stayed 2 nights and toured about the sound in the dingy to do further exploring. Across the sound in a cove that dried at low tide we saw another black bear, happily feeding on the shore. Since it was Father’s Day and we had no communication with our 2 children I tried to make it a little special so I baked bread! The captain loves baked bread so it was a great treat! While out gung-holing around we spied a large yellow object on the rocks. After closer inspection we saw that it was a float used by fish farms and loggers as anchor buoys. The captain thought we should bring it along but the crew disagreed! I should mention here that along the BC coast are many fish farms (aquaculture) and much controversy about this as opponents say the fish farmed here interfere with the wild salmon migratory routes and habitat.

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At anchor in Simoon Sound.

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Father’s Day present! Since we were not within cell phone range we had no contact with our family so I tried to make it special!

Our next peaceful anchorage was called Monday Anchorage in the Broughton Archipelago. We shared this with kayakers each night as there is a midden on the shore which makes it easier for the kayakers to pull up their kayaks and set up camp. The Broughton Archipelago is a large area east of Telegraph Cove and consists of many islands, large and small. Subsequently, there are quite a few lovely spots to throw and anchor and often only room enough for one boat! This privacy allows the captain and crew to have a shower on the deck using our sun-heated showers.

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The crew enjoying a peaceful paddle in the Broughtons!

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Apple pie for my hard-working captain!

As we were hoping to see Oregon friends (in their lovely boat ‘Absolut’) we headed out in order to get better cell service. We also wanted to talk to our son in Saskatoon and daughter in Victoria whom were unable to make contact on Father’s Day. Out in the Queen Charlotte Strait we made phone contact with family and chose an anchorage we thought would be protected in the southeast wind. Turned out it was not a good spot so we relocated to Farewell Harbour. Early the next day Absolut made radio contact and we both relocated to a lovely cove on Hanson Island. On the way into a prospective anchorage was saw a school of salmon on our fishfinder. So of course we dropped the hook and about 20 minutes later were rewarded with a 15 pound spring (AKA chinook/king) salmon!

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Today we are looking forward to our daughter Kyla and her sailing-enthusiast partner Stuart to join us for the next few days before we head north to the central coast where I will be sure to have more adventures to share with you!