Happy 4th of July everyone! Here in Canada, the big day was July 1, Canada Day.
Over the last week, we spent Tuesday and Wednesday at Ganges Marina on Salt Spring Island. A nice small community with lots of artist's galleries, restaurants and shops. There are two wineries on the island, but they were a fair distance across the island and we didn't have a car - so we didn't visit them.
When we were docking in Ganges Marina, who should be in the next slip, but Wendy and Ken Richards on Poppy II, from the Sausalito Yacht Club. We met them on the SYC cruise to Half Moon Bay two years ago and they've since moved up here. Ganges Marina is their new permanent home.
We found three wonderful restaurants all within two blocks of the Marina. We'd recommend all three to anyone visiting Ganges. Piccolo was the fanciest place, with white tablecloths and great
food. We both had the Venison, quite outstanding.
We had dinner one night and lunch the next at Calvin's. We had the Salmon Tartar and bouillabaisse for dinner. For Lunch, Mary had a Lamb Burger and Bill had a Salmon Burger.
At the Oyster Catcher Restaurant, we both had the oyster and chips for lunch - yummy!
Wine up here continues to be problematic, however. We've been drinking mainly Lindeman's Bin 50 Shiraz from Australia, it's one of the few cost effective, drinkable (to our tastes) wines we've found generally available so far. At the restaurants, we've either been ordering a single glass of wine each from the by the glass menu, or skipping wine all together with dinner and having a glass back on the boat.
We also both had great massages in Ganges at the Eight Branches Holistic Health Center. We'd highly recommend it to anyone coming to visit. We don't know why they call it eight branches, though - they only have one location (Bill must have spent too much time working for banks)! Info is available on their website at http://www.8branches.ca
We also met Glen and Debbie Read from the Island Packet 40, Nootka. Glen and Debbie belong to the Seattle Yacht Club (SYC) and were going to the Canada day reciprocal party with the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club (RVYC) at their outstation in Long Harbour on Salt Spring Island. Since we were up cruising from California and members of reciprocal clubs, he arranged for us to get an invite.
Many of the larger yacht clubs here in the Pacific Northwest have outstations. The RVYC has 8! - see http://www.royalvan.com/club_offshore.asp
The RVYC Scott Point outstation in Long Harbour is particularly nice with a pool, clubhouse and lots of amenities. Unfortunately, universally, outstation privileges are not extended to reciprocal yacht clubs, so this party was a special treat. We did have to anchor out however. SYC has an outstation in Ganges Marina and some of their members drove over - but many anchored out.
The festivities started on Thursday with a pot luck. On Friday, July 1, Canada Day the day started off with a big Canadian/American Brunch. Following brunch, there were games of croquet, horseshoes, and lawn hockey - Canada vs. the US. Of course, the Canadian's won!
At 3:00 the Salt Springs Pipe Band entertained. Dressed in full traditional attire (kilts and all) The band played a number of the traditional selections (e.g. Scotland the Brave, Amazing Grace,
etc.). The nice thing about bag pipe concerts is that they're short! Actually, Mary says it was one of the best bagpipe bands she's ever heard.
Since we were impartial outsiders from wine country and a foodies, Bill got asked to be one of the three judges of the chili cook-off that started at 3:30. The 5 teams had a spirited time with their cooking, with lot's of "secret ingredients". All the chili's were pleasant, but pretty wimpy by our standards. They all lacked heat and had few flavor notes. One stood out slightly and it won. Of the 5 teams, it was also the only one with no leftovers at the end, an indication that everyone liked it best as well.
Dinner consisted of the Chili and side dishes. Dessert was a Canada Cake - a white cream cheese based sheet cake with Canada day decorations.
The evening ended with dancing with music provided by a local band "Faith and Desire". They played a good cross section of the usual soft rock songs.
During the weekend the best beverages at the party were the, on tap, Salt Springs Brewery's Pale Ale (Bill's preference) and Porter (Mary's preference).
On Saturday, July 2nd, Wendy was kind enough to give us a lift into town so we could visit the Saturday Ganges Market. We found a number goodies, including some local truffle goat cheese, bread, and indian spice mix (by a local gourmet).
While we were back in Ganges for the day, we also met John and Diane VanDerbeek and took a tour of tour of their wonderful yacht, the M.V. Olympus, a 97' fantail motor yacht built in New York in 1929 see: http://www.nwmaritime.org/news/news_49.html and
Sunday at 8:00 AM we pulled anchor - or tried to. The anchor and chain was very muddy, so Mary worked the windless while Bill worked the chain brush. Our chain brush is a handy gadget made of three scrub brushes mounted on a triangular holder that fits on the end of the boat pole. When it's worked up and down at the water level it does a great job of scrubbing the mud off the chain.
Halfway up, we found an old rusty, shellfish encrusted bicycle with basket entangled in our anchor chain! Gosh, how are we going to get that off! We already stowed the dingy. If we get that mess close to the hull, it will scratch up our lovely boat!
First we tried the boat hook, but the bike was too heavy - it kinked the pole's tubing (we fixed the pole later by sawing off the end and re-installing the end fitting). Then we pulled the bike up closer to the bow pulpit and Bill got down on his stomach and reached down to untangle our chain from the bike. It was pretty well wrapped around the bike's pedal crank. After 15 minutes of twiddling we finally got it free! The anchor came up the rest of the way, no problem.
We then left Long Harbour, went through Active Pass right on slack and crossed the Straights of Georgia again, heading for Howe Sound.
We arrived around 2 PM at the Union Steamship Co. Marina in Snug Cove on Bowen Island - North and West of Vancouver, see: http://www.steamship-marina.bc.ca/
Another nice community by the marina. Their Sunday art and craft fair was in full swing.
Today we had coffee and chocolate at the Cocoa West Cafe - the island's chocolatier. Good stuff! We liked their chocolate better than the chocolatier's in Ganges on Salt Spring.
Tomorrow we're off to our next destination - as soon as we decide where it is ;-}
Update! We decided to go to Secret Cove, it's about 30 miles up the coast on our way to Desolation Sound - see http://www.secretcovemarina.com/
Bill and Mary