After our most memorable day on the water (last post), and then a good night’s rest in Port Renfrew, we set out again the following morning… passing more sea caves and fishermen on our way out of San Juan Cove.
We were barely out in open water when John noticed a Murre chick following his momma with loud “feed me” chirps. We’d seen hundreds of Murres as we traveled, but never a chick… so of course we circled back. Soooo cute!
We were sailing east along the southern edge of Vancouver Island, in the Strait of Juan de Fuca in incredibly calm seas. At one point we glanced across the water and noticed a fin gliding along with us. It was unlike the typical movement we’d observed so many times with Humpbacks, so we assumed it was a different type of whale.
He literally glided ever so gently at the surface, and slightly below for quite a while. It wasn’t until his back came up in a big arch, and he dove with his fluke high in the air that we realized it was indeed a Humpback. They are such graceful, gentle creatures. (Unfortunately the scene was sooo soft, my camera couldn’t find anything to focus on, so I missed a great fluke shot!)
Our eyes swept from water to shore throughout the day… soaking up the beauty of nature. I spotted a large bolder on the beach that seemed oddly out of place. Where did this rock come from? Glacial movement? And then an optical illusion caught my eye. Look closely at the second image below. What do you see? Arch in front of the rocky shore, or a rock in front of a low sea cave?
After about 45 miles of cruising we dove into Sooke Harbor for the night. Nothing eventful to report other than a tight twisty entrance. Just a safe harbor to ride out a wind storm that night. We moored at the Government dock rather than anchoring, and wandered around the town a bit to stretch our legs.
The next morning we continued east along the strait toward Victoria. We were now seeing more humanity along the shore. Actual roads with cars on them. People on the beaches. Houses… nice houses overlooking the water. We glanced toward Port of Victoria, but kept on going. (We’ve both spent plenty of time there.)
We passed lighthouses… boats… ships… ferries… We watched the northern shore of Washington in the distance. It seemed to be beckoning us home. That coastline was the route we took back to Bellingham in the motorhome just before setting out on the boat, as a matter of fact.
I spotted my first Minke Whale gliding past our stern. And I watched a US Coast Guard Vessel in the distance… and after a bit I noticed they were gaining on us. And soon they pulled along side us and asked to board. “Standard Safety Inspection” they said. Likely a ruse for more, but we slowed to match their speed, and while still underway a VERY young Coast Guard and a more mature RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) hopped aboard. As they took seats on deck, I introduced John, with a thumb over my shoulder, “Retired Coast Guard Officer over here”. They seemed duly impressed, and then asked all the usual safety questions while we showed them what they needed to see. As they were wrapping up their inspection, having found nothing illegal laying around, I chimed in with a smile and said, “You guys picked a boring boat to board. This guy (another thumb over the shoulder) is the ultimate rule follower!”
And then they were gone… before I thought to take a picture of them. The experience didn’t delay us by much, and I found it rather entertaining.
A short while later we pulled up to the Customs dock at Roche Harbor. Once cleared we anchored amongst more boats than we encountered during our entire cruise down the west coast of Vancouver Island (not counting fishing boats). Crazy! We went ashore for supplies and showers in the morning, and then escaped for a quieter cove.
In the mean time we heard from our friend Raymond, who was watching our progress on Facebook. He decided to hop aboard his tug, Wood Duck, and meet up with us for the night. As we approached Center Island in Lopez Sound we caught sight of his bright red boat, and soon after… his smiling face.
We anchored, rafted up and popped the beers! It was a nice welcome back to the USA, where we would remain for only a couple of weeks before crossing back into Canada in the motorhome. 😜
John and Raymond… they are both boat lovers (We met Raymond when he bought John’s beloved Gizmo)… both boating history buffs… both lovers of sea chanties, and aren’t embarrassed to sing them with no talent whatsoever. 😂
I decided to give them their guy time, and happily hopped on my kayak for a little quiet time on my own.
I have photographed this bird a few times now, and cannot identify what it is. Duck-like… white stripes in wings during flight, spread tail feathers. Anyone know?
The following day, after Raymond departed, we made a stop at my favorite “rock” beach and literally filled bags full of pretty shiny rocks. 😜
Once underway again, we caught sight of Mount Baker glowing with the evening light, and a brilliant sunset on the water. We had our sights set on Fossil Bay at Sucia Island, where we’d been a few times before. The place was packed! As dark was setting in we located an empty buoy on the outside, tied up and called it a night.
The next morning we were off to Bellingham Bay, where we would pull Summer Breeze out of the water for the winter once again. Along the way we cruised past an island full of Harbor Seals, sailboats enjoying the breeze, and a channel marker covered with Cormorants.
And with that our summer was a wrap. We had some great experiences… favorites being the rivers we kayaked, and the incredible wildlife sightings along the way. But the summer was not without its hardships. Losing Sadie filled me with a sadness that was hard to shake, especially during the long bouts of dark and rainy days. We muddled through those as best we could.
We are now back in the motorhome, and after nearly three weeks of travel through British Columbia and Alberta we have crossed the border at Glacier National Park. We have rough plans for the road ahead, but will have to stay ahead of old man winter, which will take us to the southern states. As usual I’m way behind on my posting… simply because there is so much beauty out here, and I can’t stop capturing it!!
Next up… Whistler and beyond!