Tuesday, June 12, 2012

True North Summary, 1st week

Here we are already into Day 12 of our trip and we haven't posted any details as yet. However, we have been busy! First of all, Anne has been maintaining a Google Map of our route. You can see that at:

We'll sumarize what we've been up to so far:

True North Summary, 1st week:

On Day 1 we departed Elliott Bay Marina in downtown Seattle at 0930 sharp. First night's destination: Port Hadlock, just south of Port Townsend. We sailed smoothly for several hours with brisk 15 to 30 kt winds. A heavy boat makes all the difference as it was a very steady ride. Our first night's anchoring took a few tries in 50' of water and close quarters with the new Rocna anchor, to be sure it was holding in the wind – it did! On to the Strait of Juan de Fuca the next day.

Departing Elliott Bay

We spent a couple of days in the San Juan Islands, anchoring at Watmough Bay for the first night and detouring to Jones Island the next in order to stop in East Sound, Orcas Island, to have lunch with friends Dan and Steve at their house. Nice to have a social outing already!

View of True North and Watmough Bay from summit trail

Sidney was the next stop for a night, where we cleared Canadian Customs. It's a pretty waterfront town at the north end of the Saanich Peninsula on Vancouver Island. Everything is within walking distance from the marina. 

Shortly after leaving Sidney the next day, we heard from Lance that he was a couple of hours south of Sidney, en route to Sitka with a boat delivery, and perhaps we could meet at Montague Harbor, our next destination. We arrived in the outer harbor at 1535, anchored, and awaited the arrival of Inside Passage with Master Lance and crew Candice, Karen and Phil. We took the dinghy over to see them and have dinner together. Inside Passage left early the following morning but we had planned a layover day to hike the trails and hang out.

Crews of "True North" and "Inside Passage"

The morning we left, we got an early start in the rain which continued all day. It was cold! The wind was very light initially which meant motoring much of the way in order to get to Dodd Narrows, just south of Nanaimo, for slack water at 1245. We decided under the circumstances – cold, wet and motoring – to put up the canvas cockpit extension . It was a huge improvement in comfort! We made great time with a push from the wind, now from the SE at 20-25 kts, arriving early. We hung around awhile checking the narrows with binoculars before going through at 1215 easily. There was a tug with its huge log boom behind us also waiting for slack. It wasn't the kind of vessel with which one would want to share the narrow passage!

Approaching Dodd Narrows in very wet weather

The goal for Nanaimo was to spend a whole day re-provisioning some of the food and to buy charts for the West side of Vancouver Island, plus a stop for fish and chips on the water. There was a jazz musician playing his sax on the dock both evenings for some fine entertainment from our boat. Our day there was clear and sunny.

Crossing the Strait of Georgia takes the better part of a day. The winds were predicted to be strong in the morning, becoming milder in the afternoon so we left at 1000 to avoid some of the early strongest winds. The water was quite choppy as we were heading into the wind with an opposing current. The wind was still a little on the wild side at 25+ kts! We were just getting our sails trimmed and making 6+ kts through the water when a Canadian coast guard boat pulled alongside, lights flashing. We wondered if they thought we needed assistance but no! We had crossed into the “Whiskey Golf” naval operations area and needed to leave immediately. We had chosen that route because a sign posted at the marina office indicated there were no naval operations on Saturday or Sunday but apparently there were. (The prudent mariner will check the weather radio channels for current activity in WG before leaving Nanaimo.) It took several more hours to backtrack and head north around the entire area and then east across the Strait of Georgia, finally arriving at Pender Harbour at 1820. Long day! Enjoyed a peaceful evening in the bay and even ran into a few boaters who had been at Nanaimo the day before. Small world in the boating community. Michelle called to say she would be picking up passengers the following day at Bliss Landing in case we might connect there but with the delay, we were still 40 nm away. Already over a week on the water and remarkable to think we have three whole months to do this! It's very fun and never boring to poke around these small coves among the grand spaces.

Crossing Georgia Straight

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