Monday, September 1, 2014

Nanaimo to Ganges, Saltspring Island

Distance traveled:  38.8 miles

Travel time: 4 hrs, 32 mins

This morning we faced our last “tidal rapids”, transiting a place where you need to schedule your travel to coincide with slack tide or face horrendous currents that our boat can’t handle. Though we didn’t set an alarm clock, we still suffered a bit of “alarm clock syndrome”, so woke frequently after 3:30am to insure we didn’t oversleep our planned departure from Nanaimo. In the photo below, that big body of water to the right is the Strait of Georgia, which is happily behind us because we ducked into the Canadian Gulf Islands (northern extension of the San Juan Islands).


The harbor immediately outside Nanaimo had half a dozen freighters and other ships anchored out as we left Nanaimo this morning, none of which were there when we came in yesterday.


As we headed south out of Nanaimo, only 6 miles to Dodd Narrows, there were other boats leaving at the same time.


By the time we reached Dodd Narrows, the last tidal rapids of our trip, there were FIFTEEN southbound boats headed for the same place at the same time, a 200-foot wide rocky channel where slack tide only lasts 30 minutes.

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All 15 southbound boats, including us, made a “Securite”” call on VHF channel 16 to alert northbound boats we were coming through. Few of the northbound boats did the same, including one boat who passed through the narrowest point at exactly the same time we did, unnecessarily heightening the tension over whether a whirlpool or eddy might capture one of us and cause a collision. That didn’t happen, happily. It was quite the parade!


The rest of the morning brought wind and waves, and happily, there were LOTS of sailboats out with their sails up! Mostly in the Inside Passage, sailboats are “traveling” instead of “recreating”, so they motor instead of sail. It’s always nice to see them out enjoying the wind for which they’re so well designed, unlike trawlers.


We’d picked an anchorage for the night, but still uncertain about how to interpret Environment Canada’s weather forecasts, we were unhappy settling into an anchorage with overnight winds forecast up to 25 knots. So we pulled into Ganges Marina on Saltspring Island, a place we also stayed in 2010. Ganges, and Saltspring Island are wonderful places sort of reminiscent of Vashon Island back home: a laid back, aging hippie vibe sort of place. The grocery store within walking distance of the marina is fabulous, with great produce, cheeses and other stuff.

We walked the few blocks to town and were amused by this road-side cafe that wasn’t open in evening hours.

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Our slip is right in the flight path of the many seaplanes that take off and land here, and while we’re pretty sure it must be several hundred feet, it feels like they’re buzzing our boat only 50 feet overhead when we hear their noise.


We remain happy and well, starting to plan our crossing back into the U.S. this week.

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