Distance traveled: 58.3 miles
Travel time: 8 hrs, 23 mins
“Plans should be made in jello, not stone”, Hobie told us 6 years ago. Today was a great example. Yesterday we’d planned to leave Okeover Inlet this morning and move only 5 miles to Grace Harbour, a “fancy” (by Sunshine Coast standards) marina with a swimming pool, hot tub, laundry and wifi. After 5 nights at anchor it sounded good. But it poured down rain all through the night, and was still drizzling this morning, so swimming pools and even hot tubs faded in their appeal. Instead the calm wind and water suggested we should take advantage and travel further. We’re headed back to the Big Water of the Strait of Georgia, so weather conditions loom larger. We’ve been spoiled by almost 4 weeks in The Broughton Islands and Desolation Sound where almost all travel is in protected waters, and we never saw big wind or waves. Lulled into complacency. So at 7:15am we cast off our lines and back-tracked up Okeover Inlet, uncertain where we were going. Powell River and Hardy Island were on the list of possibilities.
We traveled the “inside” route through the very scenic Copeland Islands (named by the Canadian Government for an American Confederate soldier who later became an outlaw: what’s with that????)
Mid-day we entered Malaspina Strait and found steady 3-foot waves with every tenth or twelfth wave at 4 feet. Not scary, not unsafe, but difficult to walk around the boat without risking a fall, so we retired to the salon from the flybridge and drove from the lower helm. The wind eventually blew a steady 18-20mph with gusts to 28, and the opposing current and winds make wave conditions worse. We fought the opposing tide all day, making travel slow. Waves came over the bow and covered the windshield with salt water, so wipers came in handy.
Finally picking Pender Harbour as our destination (many miles north of Bedwell Harbour in the Pender Islands where so many Canadians and folks from the U.S. clear Canadian Customs), we found conditions calming and some sun.
We moved back to the flybridge for docking, only to find the wind was blowing hard inside the harbour, so were grateful for the two marina staff who came to catch our lines. Our docking skills with this single engine boat have improved a lot, but we NEVER turn down assistance with docking, and we ALWAYS wander onto the dock if we see another boat coming in nearby to offer help in catching their lines. The “what-goes-around-comes-around thing”.
Pender Harbour has lots of pretty homes on the shore, many of which are perched on rocks high above the water.
We’d forgotten we’ve been to this very nice marina and town once before, August 28, 2011 when we returned from a trip in our previous boat, “Always Ahead” to Princess Louisa Inlet (where the boat was hit by a seaplane). It looked very familiar, and the marina’s computer confirmed the date of our last visit.
We’ll see what Environment Canada has to say early tomorrow morning about our plan to cross the Strait of Georgia. We’d like to get that behind us and have several days to enjoy the Gulf Islands, but if the weather forecast looks unfavorable, we’ll stay in port and do laundry instead.