On the morning of September 12th, we pulled up anchor and headed west across Malispina Strait. At this point we were down to the last ten days of our summer voyage, and hoped to make the most of our time. During our “summer at sea” we researched destinations and asked a lot of questions of people we met along the way… much as I did while traveling the country in my motorhome… “What do we not want to miss???”
Jedediah Island (just to the west of Texada Island) came up in a few conversations, and it took us back toward other islands on our list, so that was the course we plotted. On our way we spotted more Humpback Whales! I’ve had an affinity with whales since my childhood, so this is always thrilling for me… to see then in the wild.
Humpbacks spend a limited amount of time at the surface before going into a deep dive for about fifteen minutes. You can tell when they’re about to dive deep because their tails go high just before they disappear. Those fifteen minutes are spent guessing where they will finally reappear. At one point in our afternoon they resurfaced right next to our boat. Too close for me to photograph with my long lens on, but oh… so cool!
At Jedediah Island we found a narrow cove where we anchored and shore-tied Summer Breeze before dropping the dinghy in the water and heading ashore.
The 600 acre Jedediah Island is a Marine Provincial Park. The Palmer family bought the Island in 1949 as a vacation getaway in the summer. Then in 1972 they moved to the island and became full-time residents for twenty years, farming and raising livestock. We saw numerous ferrel sheep while hiking across the island, but apparently there are feral goats there as well, thought to be left behind by the Spanish! The view from the Palmer’s old homestead is quite remarkable.
After exploring the island, we dropped my kayak in the water and set out to explore the shoreline and coves. On the way back I noticed shore ties hanging from the rock edge of an island just across from us, but something was not right about them. They seemed too high for typical stern ties we had latched onto in many locations for one, but why would anyone anchor in the channel when there were so many quieter options. I got my answer in the morning. While John was ashore with Sadie I observed a tug towing large raft of logs into that narrow channel. Soon after a few hearty and sure-footed young men hopped out and used those shore ties to tie off the logs it took two tugs and a handful of guys to maneuver that huge raft into place… and then they were gone.
From Jedediah Island we made our way back to Nanaimo Yacht Club where we did the usual restocking and laundry. While I was on the boat putting things away that evening, John hops on board asking if I’d received his text letting me know there were otters on the dock. I hadn’t, but I was on the dock with camera in hand before he could blink. I heard the silly critters before I could see them a group of six or seven… rough-housing around the boats, under and over the docks… in general just making mischief. What a hoot to watch them play, and catch them by surprise from time to time. 😜
After all that fun I was back on board fixing dinner, and then into our nightly games, which John has been so lucky at of late! Makes me miss Farkle with our flotilla. 😢
In the morning we were off again. Gloomy wet weather and so-so anchorages made the next few days lacking worthiness to post… other than this nice sunset at Princess Margaret Marine Park at Portland Island. This was a very pretty Island that we hiked in full… evening and morning hikes combined.
After a quick stop to explore Sidney Spit we decided to pull anchor and cross back over to US water. Roche Harbor on San Juan Island was our closest customs check in, and therefore our first stop. From there we motored out to Garrison Bay… arrived after dark and anchored. After a shore excursion ito “English Camp” the next morning, we pulled anchor and headed back to indulge in dock space in Roche Harbor. If ever our 30’ Nonsuch were to look small, this would be the place!
We did enjoy some shore time here, and I got caught up on some work with a decent WiFi connection. Our favorite place was the local sculpture garden. Harsh light for good shots but the walk and the art were enjoyable.
From Roche Harbor we headed to Patos Island, with the intension of staying for the night, but the inlet was narrow and the few mooring buoys were taken. We anchored long enough to go ashore for a bit, but didn’t feel comfortable staying for the night, so we made our way back to Sucia Island where we’d spent some time earlier on the journey. (prior post which includes Sucia… https://journeyinfocus.com/2018/10/01/sailing-into-the-san-juans/ )
We enjoyed Sucia Island earlier on our journey, but found every bay crowded with boats. This time around there were very few boats on site and we were able to get a spot at the dock in Fossil Bay. While out hiking John and I noticed an inflatable dinghy right at the waters edge in Snoring Bay. Since we’d not come upon anyone else on the trails and the dinghy was nearly floating (as apposed to pulled well up on shore) we went to investigate. I noticed a plaque on the stern with the name “Sea Otter” and a phone number… so I called it. “San Juan Sailing” someone said when the phone was answered. I said, “Are you missing a dinghy?” Well, it turned out they were. It came loose from one of their charter sailboats and went unnoticed until it was too late to find it.
Since San Juan Sailing is in Bellingham and we were headed there in a few days time we offered to tow Sea Otter’s dinghy, which I dubbed “Little Otter”, back to them. The next dilemma was getting “Little Otter” back to our boat two bays away. Rather than leave it where we found it and motor around to it in the morning, we decided to portage the little boat (much heavier than it looks!) across the spit separating Snoring Bay from Mud Bay, and from there John was able to row it from Mud Bay back to Fossil Bay.
Clark Island was our next stop. We rowed ashore to discover that there was really not much to discover… except that the entire shoreline is covered with the most colorful collection of rocks! Red, green, black, and white… some with spots and some with veins. How they all came to be on this one island is a mystery to me, but I could not get enough of them. I filled my pockets… and John teased me that I must be careful not to fall overboard on the way back out to Summer Breeze… then I filled his pockets too! I finally promised I would not pick up one more rock… but then I saw another and another, and asked HIM to pick them up! I’m not sure what I’m going to do with them, but they sure are pretty!
After dinner at Doe Bay on Orcas Island that evening, and anchoring for the night nearby, we set out for Bellingham the following morning. Our feelings were mixed as we were concluding our summer cruise, but John was thrilled to be able to sail most of the way. In the mean time I touched base with the folks at San Juan Sailing to figure out where “Little Otter” needed to go. We were thrilled to find out that they appreciated our efforts enough to provide us with free moorage for the week we would spend driving to Longview for more “Dad’s estate” stuff, retrieving THE BEAST from Olympia, moving and reorganizing most of our belongings for our winter trek in the motorhome, and prepping Summer Breeze to be hauled out and dry stored. In addition to free moorage… as we docked, their office manager greeted us and handed us a thank you note from the staff and $100 for a nice dinner on them! Very thoughtful.
Less than one week later we stood in the pouring rain watching the huge mast being pulled off of Summer Breeze, and then the fat-bottom-girl herself came out of the water.
So that concludes our summer voyage. Despite the smoke we dealt with most of the summer, a lack of wind often times, and a fair bit of rain toward the end… it was a marvelous experience. I will admit to being a little apprehensive about two very active people being confined to a boat so much of the time, and I was more than a little worried about how old and arthritic Sadie would do. My worries dissolved very quickly. We hiked and explored almost every day, and the purchase of a life jacket with a handle for Sadie made it easy to get her on and off the boat, and in and out of the dinghy. We added a bit of CBD to her diet as well, which clearly helped with her arthritis and probably made her all the more “chill”.
At writing we are camped at Bryce Canyon National Park. We departed Washington October 15, and have traveled through eastern Oregon to Crater Lake, south to Lake Tahoe, Mono Lake, Bodie (ghost town) State Park, Mammoth Lakes, Alabama Hills, Death Valley, Zion National Park and now this incredible place. We are, for the most part, following a path I took almost exactly five years ago while traveling solo. It’s all magical enough to make sure John gets to experience it too! Those stories are ahead, and I do hope to catch up with myself soon!
Thanks for following!!