Monday, 10 August 2015

A week in the islands... B.C.'s Gulf Islands

Finally got away for a week in our "islands", the Gulf Islands (as opposed to the islands in the Bahia de la Paz).

Beautiful weather, although not much wind. We did not sail until the final day, when we crossed Georgia Strait back to Vancouver.

First night at Clam Bay, after a calm motor across to Porlier Pass. Up to 20-30 boats anchored. Going to have to get used to more-crowded anchorages here (compared to the Sea of Cortez). But, it was a glassy calm, quiet night.

Next, we tried a new-to-us anchorage over at Prevost Island: Selby Cove. A small cove which we expected to fit only 2-3 boats, ended up with 5 boats. Not exactly "crowded", but more than we expected. As Selby Cove adjoins land that is part of the Gulf Islands National Park, there were good trails on shore. Again, another windless, calm evening. We liked this place.

Anchored in Selby Cove

Pelagia in Selby Cove

Next stop, Winter Cove on Saturna Island. Last time we were here was in August 2013, for the Bluewater Cruising Association "Farewell to the Fleet" Rendezvous. With over 50 boats anchored in 2013 (but only three of us leaving for offshore), it was very crowded.

This year, the cove had about 25 boats anchored. Certainly not a "wilderness" feeling. Still, it was very pleasant, and we stayed two nights. Nevertheless, another windless, calm and quiet night. We could get used to this:in the Sea of Cortez, we don't think we ever had 4 windless nights in a row.

What was a "little" harder to get used to was the 16 degree Celsius water temperature. It was sunny and hot outside so we braved a swim. SO COLD! (Sure, but refreshing....)

Seals on Minx Reef at entrance to Winter Cove -- guess they don't find the water so cold.

Boat Passage (on the flood) from Winter Cove, looking out to the Georgia Strait and Mt. Baker -- beautiful!

Next night, we motored over to Port Browning, after filling up one fuel tank at the Saturna Point fuel dock (with, as we found out later, some of the highest fuel prices on the BC coast!) -- first time since Mazatlan.

The plan, on visiting Port Browning, was to visit Bob and Dee Dee (from SV Sunshine) who live on Pender Island. The visit with them was fun. Port Browning turned out to be a party anchorage and filled-up to the brim with boats. Still, people were pretty respectful and any noise ended at a reasonable time. Again, another calm night.

Crowded but calm Port Browning

Radar image of Port Browning anchorage -- crowded!

Final night was back at Clam Bay. Crowded (30-40 boats is crowded to us; certainly more than the Sea of Cortez and more than we used to see in Clam Bay) but no problems anchoring, as again we had no wind in the anchorage overnight. Tried swimming at 17.5 degrees Celsius -- must becoming acclimatized as it didn't feel too bad.

Next morning, we caught the 6 am slack at Porlier Pass, and had a wild sail with approx. 20 knot NW winds (a mostly beam reach), arriving Pt Grey (entrance to English Bay, Vancouver) 3.25 hours later.

Our first real sailing trip since getting Pelagia home, we were impressed by our (i) protected anchorages and beautiful scenery (so green and varied), (ii) quiet windless nights, (iii) crowded anchorages, and (iv) much colder water.

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