Gulf Islands in July 2011

Sunset anchored in Montague HarbourThis picture was taken while we were anchored in Montague Harbour at sunset.

Linda and I had talked about this summer's trip and decided we would cover less distance and just travel in the San Juan and Gulf Islands. Linda would meet me in Bellingham on Friday afternoon or evening, depending upon when she could leave work. She dropped me off at Breakwater Tuesday morning on her way to work. I traveled to Poulsbo and the reciprocal dock of the Poulsbo Yacht Club the first day, followed by Wednesday night in Everett and Thursday night in Anacortes. While in Anacortes I met up with my Uncle Norman and Aunt Goodie and bought them dinner. I missed their 90th birthdays and their 67th wedding anniversary this spring. I left Anacortes around noon Friday with 18 miles to travel to Bellingham. I was crossing Bellingham Bay when Linda called to say she was 16 miles out, so by the time I pulled in to the Squalicum Marina she was at an empty end tie slip opposite the fuel dock. I tossed her a line and we loaded her gear, untied and headed for Echo Bay on Sucia Island.

We spent another night at Echo Bay and then sailed with the code 0 part of the way to Roche Harbor, to meet up with our friends Erik Sabiers and his family. They belong to the Seattle Yacht Club and were at the outstation on Henry Island in Roche Harbor. Erik and his daughter Nicky came out in their dinghy and we visited for a while, and then went over to Reid Harbor on Stuart Island for the evening. We were up early for a trip over to Bedwell Harbour on South Pender Island and a check in with Canadian Customs. We arrived to find that part of the dock had been destroyed, so there was only room for about 3 boats at a time to tie up. The folks at Canadian Customs were visually inspecting every boat so check in took a little longer than in the past, but no problems and they were friendly as always. We left Bedwell Harbour and headed over to Montague Harbour, just north of Active Pass on Galiano Island. We had set up a meeting with Marla and Dave Hendrickson on Speculator for the next day on Wallace Island. We were up the next morning and headed to Wallace Island. Linda was able to make contact with Marla via a cell phone and learned they were going through customs and would then head to Wallace Island and Conover Cove. We got to Conover Cove and poked our bow in to see that there was no room for two more 40'+ boats, so we went over to Princess Cove and dropped anchor and stern tied. Marla and Dave and their granddaughter, Maggie, and her friend, Allie, showed up a little later. Dave dropped his anchor and then back up next to Helios and side-tied, so we could step from our boat to his swim step on the stern. The girls took the kayak out for a spin and then Dave let them have the dinghy to explore. Dave took the girls on a hike around the island while we visited with Marla. They used to be part owners of the island before it was sold to the British Columbia Provincial Parks system.

Allie-Maggie-Dave in dinghy

Dave, Maggie and Allie returning in the dinghy after their hike around Wallace Island



Dave and Marla headed out around mid-morning for Gabriola Passage and an anchorage on the Strait of Georgia side, which would give them a good start to cross over the next day. We took the dinghy to shore and hiked over to Conover Cove and back.

Wallace to Saltspring across Houston Passage

Standing on Wallace Island between Princess and Conover Coves looking across Houston Passage to Saltspring.



   We debated what we were going to do and decided with the wind blowing down the cove, maybe we would move back to Montague for the evening. It was a quick trip and we found a good anchorage in the southwest corner. We took the dinghy over to the store for a couple of items and a couple of scoops of ice cream. The following day we headed to Ladysmith, a place we had never been before. We called in to find out about moorage, and secured a slip for the night a the Ladysmith Maritime Society Marina. We decided to walk to town and it is a short walk, but it is all up hill. The town is very friendly to foot traffic and has a wide variety of stores. We found the bakery for a treat to ourselves for walking. We then walked to the 49th Parallel grocery store and decided to do some major restocking of supplies. After we had checked out we asked about calling for a taxi and they had one of box boys take the company pickup and drive us back to the marina, we will return.

Helios moored in Ladysmith

Helios moored at Ladysmith Maritime Society Marina

The next day we headed out for Clam Bay. We wanted to anchor and it is a very attractive anchorage in settled weather. We got anchored just south of the entrance to the "Cut" and got the dinghy in the water to take a trip to Thetis Island Marina. We were back to Helios and enjoyed a quiet night at anchorage. The next day was warm and sunny, and Linda said we should think about staying another night, to which I quickly agreed. Our trip in the dinghy this time was to Telegraph Harbour Marina and we thought this would be our choice if we were looking for a slip. The next day we were up a little earlier than normal to get going through the Sansum Narrows and on to Maple Bay and the Maple Bay Yacht Club docks and a reciprocal moorage. The water was a little rough as we tied up to the outside dock, which is for reciprocal moorage, as a result of all the boats transiting the Sansum Narrows. We walked up to the clubhouse and had to wait a few minutes until 2 in the afternoon when it opened, to check in. The water smoothed out in the evening and we took a walk around the marina looking at boats after dinner.

Helios at reciprocal moorage - Maple Bay Yacht ClubHelios moored at reciprocal dock at Maple Bay Yacht Club

We were up at 6:30 to sunshine and flat seas. We had coffee and breakfast and with a little help we were away from the dock by 9:30. We had the current against us through the Sansum Narrows, but it was only around 2 knots. We motored back to Tod Inlet and dropped the anchor about 2/3 the way in. We got things settled and then put the dinghy in the water and headed for the dinghy dock at Buchart Gardens. We spent 3 hours walking the gardens and I think close to 150 pictures were taken. The last time we were here was 9-11 and we kept hearing people talking about bombs going off in New York, so this was a much more pleasant time. The dinghy ride back had us snug and home by 5.

Entrance to Buchart Gardens   Flowers   Dinghy Dock for Buchart Gardens

Linda in Japanese Garden Section   Hanging Basket

It was a lazy morning with us not planning on pulling up the anchor until around 11. I called Canoe Cove to talk with the service department and spoke with Simon. He said no problem with looking at one of the cork decking projects that they had done. I then called Otter Bay Marina and reserved a spot for this evening. We got to Canoe Cove around 1 and looked at the boat with the cork decking. Simon came over to our boat and took a few measurements and said he would email me a quote in a couple of weeks. We were back underway at 3 for Otter Bay, and were tied up to their dock by 4:30. Jess and Ben both were there to help us tie up since the current and wind didn’t want us to be close to the dock. This is a really nice marina and even nicer people. We had a relaxing evening.

We checked with the marina to see if we could stay another night as the weather had changed and we didn't want to head over to Horton or Winter Coves on the Strait of Georgia. They said it would be no problem, but that we had to be out the next day by 11, as they had the Meydenbaurer Yacht Club coming. We took a load of laundry up, since we could do it in one with their machines, rather than two loads using our machine. We spent the day out walking the docks or area near the marina between the showers. We watched a lot of boats come in to get away from the wind and rain. We left the next day at mid-morning for Friday Harbor to clear customs and top off the fuel tank. It is less of a hassle to do both at Friday Harbor compared to Roche Harbor. The problem was heavy fog in Boundary Passage, and we appreciated the radar and AIS, which kept us clear of the commercial traffic. The fog cleared by the time we got to San Juan Channel. We thought we would try and anchor, after leaving Friday Harbor, over behind Double Island in West Sound on Orcas Island but there were already three boats there taking up the good spots, so we crossed over the south to the Orcas Island Yacht Club reciprocal dock and tied up. We spotted an eating establishment a couple blocks from the dock, and walked up around six for dinner, only to find we needed reservations, which we made for eight, and walked back to the boat. When we came back at eight the place was packed, but our table was ready. The food was very good and we would recommend the West Sound Cafe. The next day we headed to Roche Harbor via the Wasp Islands. We called ahead to find out about our reserved slip, and were told we were on an end tie on "H" dock, and it went very easy with two of the dock people there to take the lines from Linda. We were all settled in by two o'clock in the afternoon. We took a walk to the head of the dock, and the grocery store to do some re-supplying. After the food was put away, we walked back to look at the various shops. Then we walked down to the tent where the Tacoma yacht club was having their happy hour get-together. Linda made plans with a few of the ladies to go to the arts and craft Festival in Friday Harbor on Saturday.  We had a nice quiet evening. I was going to be on my own for most of the day as Linda had scheduled a mani-pedi before going to Friday Harbor for the Arts and Crafts Festival. I read and walked the docks looking at boats and when Linda returned we headed over to the tent near where the majority of the TYC members were moored for Happy Hour. We went to dinner with Ted and Margaret Reyner at the less formal restaurant. We did a little shopping for the boat Sunday morning and then it was time to head for Bellingham to get Linda to her car. We called ahead but Squalicum Marina doesn't take reservations, but there was room in the southern inner harbor and we were tied up by 4:30. Linda walked over to get the car and I helped her carry up her stuff for the trip home, which should take about 2 hours. She dropped me off at Anthony's on her way out of town, and I walked back after dinner. I was up by 6 and listening to the weather. They were predicting gale force winds in Juan de Fuca by early afternoon, so the decision to go through the Swinomish Channel was an easy one. I had coffee and breakfast and started the engines. It was so calm in the mooring I was able to coil the lines and then back away from the dock at 7:30. I swung by Fjaera to take a couple of pictures and then headed for Anacortes. The wind between Anacortes and Bellingham was on the nose at 13, which slowed progress, however, as I got closer to Anacortes the wind lightened and the current helped so I was going over 7 SOG. The Swinomish Channel went well and I was through and on the backside of Whidbey Island before noon. The ebb tide gave me an assist all the way down Saratoga Passage. I saw all the sails in Penn Cove, so it must be Whidbey Island Race Week. I was tied to the dock by 4, although it was a struggle to get Helios close enough for me to jump off with a line. The wind was pushing her with 8-9 knots of breeze on the beam. After cooling down and visiting with Linda about the day’s journey, it was time for a shower and dinner at Anthony’s Woodfire Grill. After a little over 50 miles in windy rainy weather and a good meal it was easy to sleep. I was up the next morning to head to Bremerton and see what our outstation looked like. There wasn't enough wind to sail and I had a little current against me as Helios was going through Agate Pass, but I had timed my arrival to be at Bremerton at low slack. I called the Harbormaster and she said she would try be on the dock when I arrived, since I was single handing. I got there 15 minutes before slack and it was trying to tie in a river. Without the help of another fellow, I would not have been able to get Helios tied up. The Harbormaster got tied up on a phone call and was a little late. I think in the future I will just go to Poulsbo. I was up around seven and after coffee and breakfast, with a little help from the same fellow got free of the dock and on my way to Breakwater. I called Linda and gave her an approximate time for my arrival. She had the Reunanen Clan on the dock waiting for me, when I arrived, to help get Helios into her slip. It was a very good three weeks on the water.