Monday, 19 March 2012

A sail on the last days of Winter

A weekend sail to Camp Artaban (Port Graves, Gambier Island)

Saturday March 17 to Monday March 19 (2012):
Our bodies reasonably healed, the weather cooperated, projects were put on hold for a few days, and we finally got away from the dock. We headed over to one of our favourite anchorages, in front of Camp Artaban, on Gambier Island in Howe Sound.

Vancouver Harbour to Port Graves, Howe Sound (Port Graves blown up on right)

Sails up at last -- tacking back and forth in English Bay (wind NW, 8-12 knots)

Pelagia anchored in front of Port Graves public dock at Camp Artaban

There is a "public dock" at Port Graves, but it only has room for dinghies -- "anchoring only" in Port Graves.

[Note: Although a favourite destination for us, one has to be careful where you anchor, as in some places, especially in the NW corner, old logging debris (especially large cables) is on the harbour bottom and can foul your anchor. We've seen it happen to other boats.]

In the Summer, water temperatures warm up to ~21 degrees Celsius -- pretty common to see boaters jumping in for a swim (including Pelagia's crew!). There is lots of room for anchoring (there can be 20-40 boats anchored on a Summer weekend) -- from mid September through to mid May (and most weekdays in the Summer), the anchorage is pretty empty.  In Winter, one has to watch forecasts -- gale force "arctic" northerly outflow winds down Howe Sound or >15-20 knot southerly inflow winds can make the anchorage uncomfortable (gale force southerly inflows could be a real problem).

Another reason Artaban is a favourite of ours is that the camp provides public access to the many kilometres of walking and hiking trails on Gambier, including some moderately difficult hikes to nearby mountains ( describes many of the trails; in Winter and early Spring, the trails can be quite muddy!). 

Moss-covered trees on trail to Brigade Bay (yes, trail was muddy)

This March weekend, we needed our rubber boots for the trails. But, we had only one other boat anchored Saturday eve, and we were alone Sunday eve. We all kinds of weather -- but for the most part the weather was either benign or good (albeit a bit chilly -- we needed our Dickinson furnace). No winds at night (glassy calm) made for good sleeps. We got a surprise as we were about to leave Monday morning, a sudden snow squall (a blizzard!) sprung up -- we waited another half hour and the rest of the day was quite decent.

Motoring back on Monday, between Bowen and Gambier Islands, we were treated to the best show of/by dolphins we've ever seen. (Pacific white-sided dolphins, known for their energetic leaping, flips, etc.)  At least a hundred dolphins in view, with at least a dozen "playing" with Pelagia (crisscross swimming under our boat, jumping out of the water, often in 2s or 3s, trailing behind the rudder, eyeing us, etc). This seemed to go on forever (45-60 minutes anyways). Fearing a "miscue" by a dolphin with our propeller, we even put the engine in neutral, hoping they would get bored with us. After 10-15 minutes in neutral, no such luck, so we motored on while they jumped and swam around us, until we reached the end of Bowen Island when they left us. Quite the fun show; certainly made our weekend!

(We often see dolphins, and in recent years humpback and grey whales, while cruising in BC. But this was our most active "show" around Pelagia.)

Back home at the Vancouver Rowing Club by 3pm, before the rains (and gale force winds) forecast for Monday evening -- it was great to get back out on Pelagia.

Friday, 2 March 2012

"Back on the horse": An excellent week skiing!

With some trepidation, Michelle and I returned to the slopes this week -- almost four weeks after her very nasty fall on Blackcomb's Cougar Chutes (and my "running for the bus" injury)

Turns out we had an excellent week of skiing up at Whistler (including a vigorous day of snowshoeing). We were back on the black diamond runs (but decided to wait 'til our next visit to return to skiing the double blacks -- Cougar Chutes were always there reminding us of our mortality.)

On top of  Blackcomb's "7th Heaven"

Michelle skiing from Whistler's peak, down "Whistler Bowl" ... it's great to be back!
Snowshoeing up the Cheakamus Lake road

So, we have healed well (although M. still has no feeling in her chin). 

Having fun skiing again!