Through the fog to the Gulf Islands

August 11

Gulf Islands

Comparing this week with last, it's hard to say whether the bright, sunny hot weather is due to an actual change in the weather, or it's just that now we're inside Vancouver Island, and now it's the peak boating season (first two weeks of August).  But in any case, here we are in the light winds, no clouds, hot but pleasant weather that draws boaters by the thousands into the San Juans and Gulf  Islands.

Starting last Tuesday, we motored south from Barkley Sound (on the outside of Vancouver Island) 100 miles through the fog.  This is what radar is for -- there were fishing boats out there, and sometimes they were purse seiners.  The big boats would appear on the radar, but not their nets, which are drawn in a wide circle by a small skiff.  The skiffs don't appear on the radar until you are practically on top of them.  Once, I found myself about to enter the circle of the net before I figured out what was going on.  Other times, sports fishermen were out there in the fog, bouncing around in the big Pacific rollers, hardly visible on the radar.  Altogether, a somewhat tense day -- boring for the eyes, loud for the ears (not enough wind to sail).  We left Tzartus Island in Barkley Sound at 7:15 am, and pulled up to the dock in Victoria at 7:15 pm. 

Victoria was in glorious clear sunshine, with intentionally cute little passenger ferries tooling around the harbor, float planes landing, whale watching zodiacs coming and going, and giant ferries docking.  All the European-looking buildings are quite beautiful, especially when compared with some of the modern glass condominium towers that are encroaching on the formerly industrial waterfront, trying to look like part of the city.  The condominium under construction near the marina where we first docked was particularly striking -- a glass and stone building with gargoyles representing fish and angels.  Very strange.

Victoria has such a small harbor, and so many boats and planes, that they've instituted a harbor traffic control plan.  Where you can be depends upon where you are going and what size boat you are.  The fumes from all the float planes make it smell a bit like an airport.  There are incredible numbers of tourists along the waterfront.  We became part of the scenery for the tourists.  Many of them came alongside the boat, just looking, taking pictures.  Mostly, though, the tourists were drawn to a giant yacht (probably more than 100 feet long) called the "After Eight" from the Isle of Man.  We speculated whether it may belong to some rich industrialist who owns the "After Eight" mint company.  The main living deck was too high to see into, but you could walk along the dock and look into the engine room -- huge, immaculate, well lighted -- a little industrial complex.  We also became part of the tourist crowd and found wonderful restaurants, native art galleries and book stores.  (We find that we periodically exhaust all the books we've brought and have to get some more).  We found a laundromat that would pick up and deliver, right to the boat.  And a grocery store that also delivered right to the boat.  What a deal!
Our friends, Sid and Julie Blachford, joined us in Victoria and will travel with us to Nanaimo.  We had a nice sail from Victoria to Bedwell Harbor yesterday, complete with black and white dolphins who rode our bow wave for a few minutes.  We deployed the asymmetrical spinnaker, the beautifully colored sail which we weren't able to use on the outside of Vancouver Island because the wind was always too strong or coming from the wrong direction.  The weather was idyllic -- 78 degrees, light wind.

We anchored last night in Bedwell Harbor, along with about 100 other boats.  I guess we've been spoiled out on the west coast -- we felt put upon there if there was one other boat in the harbor!  But you can't complain about this weather!

Back to the previous report      

On to the next report →