Our “summer” (late spring thru summer) adventures aboard Summer Breeze could not have started out under better weather conditions. For springtime in the northwest this warm, sunny weather is almost unheard of and we were soaking it up!
Our first stop after departing Bellingham was Sucia Island, and place we enjoyed enough to visit twice last summer. It’s a popular marine preserve that’s shaped a bit like a hand, and therefore has several coves and bays to explore.
There are two docks in Fossil Bay, and numerous mooring buoys around the island. There are also hiking trails that you can follow out every finger, and around every cove. Much of the shoreline consists of colorful sandstone, worn by the waters into interesting shapes. I don’t care to repeat myself, so if you’re interested in seeing this natural beauty, please take a peek at my original post… (toward the bottom of Sailing Into the San Juans)
During this visit the first notable thing we saw was LOTS of baby geese, and interestingly it seemed like there were far more goslings per pair than would be natural. We couldn’t figure out if parents disappeared and the wee ones were adopted into other families, or what. Regardless, the adult geese were clearly in defensive mode with the goslings in their care.
While at Sucia, John spent some happy time sailing little Zephyr. This beautiful cedar strip dinghy was designed and built by John, with more than a little help from some friends, including moi. I’m going to share the story of Zephyr in a guest post by John very soon. It’s a good story, so do check back!
Once again we hiked the trails. After three visits we’ve covered the entire island at least once. Even when the bays and coves are filled with boats, the trails are only lightly used, and therefore very peaceful. In addition, the tide pools and shoreline are fun to explore, and if you listen for their calls and watch the skies, you’ll likely spot a few Bald Eagle. Otter frolic here as well.
The Madrone Tree is another unique bit of nature found here, and on many of the islands in the area. I shared images and a bit of info about the Madrone in the link I shared about Sucia Island above. The growth on the side of this Madrone is a mystery to me. If anyone knows what it is, please chime in!
After a few days at Sucia we sailed with a strong breeze into Canada. The “breeze” was so strong that docking at the customs office in Bedwell Harbor (South Pender Island), was anything BUT a breeze.
Once checked and anchored deeper in the cove where there was less wind, John rowed us back to the dock to stock up on a few food items and ice. Unfortunately it was pre-season there, so little was open besides Customs. No groceries to be had. We were able to get a bite to eat on the patio of the hotel, where the service was excellent since we were the only ones there! One of the customs officers was kind enough to take a quick picture for our archives.
On the way back to the dinghy we stopped at the gas dock for ice, only to find they’d just unplugged it and hauled the ice away. We were given permission to toke whatever we could scrape out of the bottom, and with no bucket to put it in we plucked several “doggie-do bags” out of the nearby dispenser and filled them up! (Note- our on-board fridge is only an icebox unless we are plugged into shore power or motoring with the inverter on.)
After lunch we took Sadie back to the boat and went ashore to do a hike up Mt. Norman, where we were promised a panoramic view of the surrounding islands. The trail was easy to find, and as far as we could tell there was only the one trail. We followed it up and down several hills as we skirted around the island through the woods, and then started climbing. According to the trail guide its 1.6 miles out and back, and the elevation of Mt. Norman is about 800′. The only problem is, although we reached the top (or very close to it), we never found the notable panoramic view. We could see some other islands through the trees, but I was expecting some grand vista. That said, the trail was poorly marked, so we may have missed something along the way. Wild flowers were blooming though. These little beauties were no bigger than a lima bean.
From South Pender Island we headed to Ganges Harbor where we knew we would be able to restock our groceries and shop for a few other things we had on our list. Although I didn’t take any pictures there, I did enjoy Ganges a whole lot more this time through, and wished we’d had a little more time to spare. It’s a lovely area when it’s smoke free! Next time we will rent a car or scooter, because I learned right before we left dock that the art galleries, which I’d heard about years ago while traveling Vancouver Island in the motorhome, are spread out all over the island. We’d been here twice, and missed the best part of it!
John is always on the look-out for old and/or unique sailing vessels, and quick to point them out to me. There are some real beauties out there!
After an over-nighter in Montegue Harbor we headed on to Nanaimo for gas, a few more groceries and a trip to the marine chandlery. Then we crossed over to nearby Newcastle Island and tied up to a mooring buoy. This is where I watched a young family of otters tear their “eel meal” to pieces last Fall. Not for the squeamish, but that experience can be viewed toward the bottom of this page… Oh Canada- The Gulf Islands and Beyond.
We saw no otter this time, but spotted a very busy raccoon searching the shore, no doubt for anything the otter may of left behind.
The following morning we headed across the Strait of Georgia in preparation for our second trip to our favorite destination from last year… Princess Louisa Inlet! With little wind and calm seas, our crossing was uneventful.
We docked at Backeddy Marina in Egmont and enjoyed dinner and live music in their restaurant right at the top of the boat ramp.
Next up… the remarkable Princess Louisa Inlet! You’ll want to come back for that!