2018 - First time retired cruise

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This was going to be a different cruise than we have done in the past as Linda retired the end of June. We moved out of the house and aboard Helios. The stuff we wanted to keep for our new home in Arizona is in storage. The movers came July 10th and emptied the house. We did a few last minute chores and left Thursday morning for a short trip to Des Moines. I had purchased an Iridium Go system and wanted a little tutoring, and their office is in Des Moines. The tech came down spent time with me showing me how to send and receive emails, and how to get GRIB files that would show us the future weather forecast. We left Des Moines and went over to the TYC outstation in Eagle Harbor to relax for a couple days then over to Elliott Bay Marina and Dan from Emerald Harbor Marine, who did the annual maintenance on the water maker, and then it was off to Everett for a night. The next port was the marina in Anacortes that is used by North Harbor Diesel which is the company that will use their Sea Lift to haul Helios and put new bottom paint on the hull, since it has been four years on the old paint. It was quite an operation and watching Helios motor up the road to the yard was something different. Helios came out of the water on Thursday the 19th and back in the water the following Wednesday the 25th.


We were able to wax the entire hull, install new zincs, change oil in transmissions and a few other small jobs. My Aunt Goodie, age 96, and her daughter, my cousin, Jan live in Anacortes so we made arrangements to spend one of our afternoons with them. Linda’s niece, Jeri Ross, and husband Fred live in Oak Harbor which is about 20 minutes away with no traffic, and they came over to see Helios and visit while we were on the hard. After Helios was in the water we motored over to Cap Santé Marina, about a 20 minute trip. We washed all the yard dust off and got things ready for cruising. We left the next morning for the San Juan Islands and anchored off the south side of Spencer Spit on Lopez Island. It was very nice being at anchor with cool water around the hull making the stateroom pleasant to sleep. We spent a couple of nights there before moving on to Roche Harbor on San Juan Island. Our granddaughter, Kelsey, was flying in on Kenmore Air the following day to spend a week with us in the Canadian Gulf Islands. Kelsey had just graduated from Annie Wright High School in Tacoma and was going to La Verne University in Orange County, California in the fall. We had just anchored in front of the Seattle outstation on Henry Island, since I don’t particularly like Roche Harbor Marina, as they charge a premium, 150%, for a side tie on the promenade. We took the dinghy over to the seaplane dock and waited for Kelsey to come in, and then it was back over to Helios. We raised the anchor which brought with it a huge ball of kelp, requiring a few minutes to get rid of, and then it was a short trip across Haro Strait to Sidney. We checked in with customs with no problems and then went to our assigned slip. We were spending two nights but would have to shift to a different slip the second night. I walked up to pay for moorage and Linda and Kelsey rinsed the salt off Helios. We walked uptown to window shop and check on a possible dinner at a very good German/Swiss restaurant. They were able to squeeze us in without reservations if we would be done by 6, no problem. The next day we did more exploration of the town and tried a different restaurant for a late lunch or early dinner before heading back to Helios and a game of Mexican Dominos. We left the next day for Maple Bay, and didn’t have any wind so it was a motoring trip. Once we were tied up at the dock Kelsey and I decided to pump the kayak and go paddling, but the mice had chewed two holes, probably liking the salt. I got out the patch kit and hoping that 24-48 hours of cure time would see us OK. We used the dinghy to take a tour of Maple Bay and the various marinas and floating homes. It reminds me of the San Juans 30 years ago. We had a quiet night and the following morning after Linda and I had coffee and after Kelsey got up, breakfast, we untied and headed up the Sansum Narrows to Ladysmith. We got some wind and were able to let out the headsail and put the engines at idle speed and travel faster the motoring alone. There was a little confusion as to where we were supposed to tie up, so we had to wait in the “Penalty Box” until things settled down. It was a tight squeeze between to large power boats on a side tie, but the wind was with us and the Wharfinger was there to take the lines. The girls took off for town while I worked on some Trillium business using the wifi provided by the marina. When they returned they informed me that I was going to get my heart working tomorrow, with the climb to Main Street, with the marina being at sea level and Main Street about 180 feet above sea level. There are a lot of steps involved. The next day we went to town to do some shopping and to look around. We played a game of Wizard in the cockpit after dinner, which I BBQ’d. The next morning we had to shift on the dock to get some more boats in, and we spent a quiet day and in the evening they had music on the dock, but since it was Western Kelsey wasn’t too interested, so we only stayed a little while. The next morning it was time to start heading south and to Montague Harbour where all the mooring balls were full so we anchored in the south end. This is one of my least favorite places to anchor because of all the personal mooring balls. I had told myself on the way that if we didn’t get a mooring ball we would exit the north entrance and anchor over by Galiano Island and I should have listened as we had to re-anchor as the tide changed and we were too close to a personal mooring ball. It was a quiet evening. The next morning was dead calm and after breakfast we raised anchor and motored over to Winter Harbour, where it was an easy anchor, with no boats nearby. In the early afternoon we lowered the dinghy and went out of the cover through Boat Passage into the Strait of Georgia. About a quarter mile offshore is the Belle Islets. We motored over to the southern end and let the current drift us northward along the shoreline. There are probably over 100 seals that rest and sleep here. The old ones ignore us and the young ones jump into the water on the opposite side, while the “Teenage Seals” swim out to see what’s going on, swimming around the dinghy, going underwater then popping up nearby to take a look.


It was a fun exercise and letting Kelsey have the camera resulted in about 50 seal pictures. It was another quiet evening with Kelsey and me watching some episodes of Bones while Linda read. The next morning we raised anchor and headed down Plumper South to Boundary Passage and back to the U.S.A. We tied up to the Customs Dock in Friday Harbor and had a bit of a wait as the Custom’s Officer was clearing a plane at the airport, but when she returned it was a quick process to get check back in, and then we went to our side tie slip on D dock. I had asked if we could stay two nights but there wasn’t room. We walked through town, had lunch and did a little shopping. We played some games and made it an early night. I checked the following morning to see if there were any cancellations, and there were, so I hustled up to office to pay before they changed their minds. We then contacted Kenmore Air to see if they could pick Kelsey up at Friday Harbor, instead of Roche Harbor, and it was a simple exchange. Kelsey flew out at around 2 and Linda and I were on our own for the rest of the summer. We did some shopping in Friday Harbor including the grocery store where we picked up a few things. We decided to make a decision on where we were headed wait until tomorrow morning. We decided to see if the TYC outstation dock was open in Deer Harbor on Orcas Island, and it was with only one other boat there. We spent the next three days there, and while there entertained one of Linda’s former employees and husband and son. They enjoyed being on Helios and dinghy rides through the Wasp Islands. The day we left Deer Harbor had a weather forecast for higher winds and possibly some rain so we went over to Stuart Island Reid Harbor, which is well protected and an easy place to anchor. It is shaped like a big bathtub with the water depth 20 to 40 feet over a thick mud bottom. We spent a couple of nights here before crossing over to the Canadian Gulf Islands. We were back to Montague, but this time we got a mooring ball and spent a couple of nights, with small jobs being accomplished in the morning. There was a lot of smoke making the sunrises and sunsets a bright orange. We hoped there would be less smoke as we moved northward.


 We left Montague and headed to Nanaimo via Dodd Narrows, and tied up in the marina. We had only planned on one night before crossing the Strait of Georgia, but were concerned with the north wind, but it lightened up and we our jog around area WG, (Whiskey Gulf a Canadian and US torpedo testing area) and on to Pender Harbour and the Garden Bay marina, where we spent a couple of nights. The next day we lowered the dinghy and went over to the Madera Park section and tied up to the dock and walked a little ways to the IGA to stock up Helios. The nice thing is that they let you take the grocery carts back to the docks, and they send a truck to pick them up at day’s end. We had a nice dinner at the Garden Bay Restaurant overlooking the marina and the bay.


The following day it was off to Gorge Harbour Marina on Cortes Island. I had just finished a book about Cortes Island in the early 20th century by June Cameron. We had reserved our slip and it was a good thing as the marina was full, we had 50’ of space to put 42’ of Helios into, but a couple of lads caught the lines from Linda and worked us in and tied up. There was still a lot of smoke and upon hearing there were 600 fires in British Columbia, I didn’t think we would see clear sky anytime soon. We availed ourselves to the laundry facilities and also filled the propane. We visited with fellow boaters and strolled the docks looking at boats.


 After three nights it was time to move on to Grace Harbour in Desolation Sound, and the smoke was thick enough that visibility was about 1 mile, so I had the radar up and running. There were only four boats anchored in Grace, which could hold about 50 if some are stern tied, so it was no problem finding a place to anchor. We spent a couple of nights, but our second day the dinghy motor began cutting out, so we decided to leave Desolation Sound for Campbell River. We had never been there before so it was a learning experience with the currents and eddies as we headed up the beginning of Seymour Narrows to Campbell River and Discovery Marina. After checking around we found that all the repair services would be 10 days to two weeks before they could work on our motor, so we decided to stop heading north and do a slow return south. After a couple of nice days in Campbell River we went to Von Donop Inlet on the north side of Cortes Island, it is a Provincial Park. We had some visitors with us along the way as 3 humpback whales were swimming north up Sutil Channel. They were a little far away for clear pictures, but since they are bigger than us that was just fine. There was plenty of open space for us to anchor and we spent a couple nights.


 This was our farthest point north, as we moved on with one night’s stays in Gorge Harbour Marina, Beach Garden Marina in Powell River, Garden Bay Marina and finally Ladysmith for which we decided on 4 nights. It was a good time to relax after four straight days of travel. We did some small projects and some inventories for storage. We left Ladysmith and moved south to a mooring ball in Montague Harbour for one night.


We crossed over into the U.S.A. and tied up at the TYC outstation in Deer Harbor. We spent a couple nights there and then moved on to Anacortes and Cap Santé Marina. This basically ended the summer trip as we were now on wrapping things up mode. We spent a few days getting a storage unit, 5 x 9, to store boat stuff, and make arrangements to haul and store Helios in Anacortes. We did take Helios to Tacoma so that we could have a place to stay while completing Doctor, Dentist, Legal and Business appointments. It was a great trip and we are looking forward to a longer one next summer.