Between Nelson and Hardy Islands

Lord NelsonAugust 20, 2015

Here we are, nestled between Nelson Island, and Hardy Island, adjacent to Musket Island and anchored beside the "Lord Nelson III". A maritime history aficionado's dream (that would be Craig...)

We were in Nanaimo for four days, waiting for the winds to calm down. We were tied at the outside guest moorage of the Nanaimo Yacht Club, and it was a real wind tunnel. Every day we were seeing winds of 30 knots or more, whistling past us.  In the clubhouse of the Nanaimo Yacht Club, there was a diagram for the kids in a sailing class: the channel next to our dock was labeled: "Channel of Death." We could only imagine what it might be out on the straits. So we elected to wait it out.

Nanaimo is a delightful city to be stuck in. Lots of interesting walks to take, including a spectacular waterfront walkway, historic buildings, interesting renovations and lots of "shabby chic" shops and vegan cafes. We had an excellent Greek dinner our first evening in Nanaimo. We ate Thai food twice, once as a take-out in the cockpit of our boat (home sweet home). We watched (and heard) the noon cannon shot from the Bastion in downtown Nanaimo. It was preceded by 10 minutes of bagpipe music from a kilted piper. The grocery store we have supplied from in previous years has gone upscale. A good thing, but it comes with higher prices.

Ray and Alicia depart for homeRay and Alicia, who accompanied us from St. Helens and up the coast, departed by bus, ferry and car on Wednesday morning. We were sorry to see them go -- we had an excellent time together.

We waited for calmer weather on Wednesday -- the forecast had been saying that Thursday would be calmer and then some south wind -- that sounded good. But by Wednesday the south wind and calmer weather had disappeared from the forecast and instead it was saying "strong wind warning". (Too be fair, that seems to be the Canadian equivalent of "small craft warnings.") We decided to go Thursday anyway.

And amazingly, Thursday morning (this morning), there was no wind at all. We fueled up and headed out. We sailed for a bit, and then it was mostly motoring, all the way to our present anchorage near Pender Harbor. It was a hot day -- we both had a shower on the back step, and probably both acquired a bit of a sunburn.

There are lots of boats here -- seems to be a good place to stay. Craig thinks there may be salmon here too -- we may check that out tomorrow morning before we head north.

August 22

During the night a lot of wind came up, as we could see looking out the opening into the strait. There were huge waves crashing up on the little island outside the entrance to our anchorage. We were well protected, but decided not to venture out. The forecast said winds would lighten in the afternoon.

Craig helping out with a windlass problemWe met the folks in the next sailboat over, Beth and Jeff of Outspan Coast, out of North Vancouver. They came aboard and we chatted for awhile, covering weather, anchoring, cruising in the South Pacific and life in Canada. They then headed ashore to explore, while we attended to a few boat tasks. After awhile, Beth came back looking for help/advice about a reluctant windlass, which was refusing to retrieve their anchor. Craig went over to help, and all was successful.

We could see through the opening that the wind had dropped, as predicted. We headed north and arrived in Westview, late afternoon. We have fond memories of Westview, having stopped there many times over the years. One year we arrived to hear part of the Kathaumixw choral festival, which David (then age 13) was participating in, and then headed north. Now we find that the guest moorage area is greatly expanded (yay!) although the walk to town is even further.

Blackberry cupcakes at the Blackberry FestivalStreet musicians at the Blackberry FestivalThe dock crew, which helped us into our very tight moorage, announced that last night was the annual Blackberry Festival -- street fair, blackberry pie, blackberry cheesecake, art, music and later on, fireworks. Indeed, the street above the harbor was closed off, and we enjoyed a nice dinner of street food (including blackberry pie). After that we walked up (and I do mean UP) to the Safeway and got our grocery shopping done. Everyone in town was at the blackberry festival, so we were practically the only people in the Safeway. We were offered plenty of personal assistance and conversation by the staff; clearly they would rather have been at the blackberry festival, but were making the best of it. After we got back to the boat, and crammed our purchases into the groaning refrigerator, we went out and watched the fireworks. Today, we'll head north again, and get into Desolation Sound proper.At the entrance to Desolation Sound

Next trip report.