June 8, 2005

Canoe Cove - Sidney, Vancouver Island

On Saturday, June 4th, 2005, we departed Coal Harbour Marina at 10:00 AM for our passage over to Vancouver Island. We arrived in Canoe Cove at 6:15 PM. Our position report page on http://raptordance.com/ shows our new position.

After stopping at the ESSO fuel barge, we passed under the Lion’s Gate bridge at First Narrows at 11:00AM, with a 1 Knot Ebb helping us along.

Fuel is way more expensive than in Mexico and a just a bit higher than the US. We paid $ 0.91 CAN/Liter – $ 2.75 US/Gal.

The tides and currents here in the North West are something to be reckoned with. With a tidal range of 20+ feet in many places, the current can really get moving. In narrow passes, it can actual cause rapids. Good scheduling is vital to make sure you hit the tricky spots at slack water – between the tidal ebbs and floods.

We had to contend with two challenging passes: First Narrows, the Vancouver Harbour entrance and Active Pass, an entrance into the Gulf Islands from The Straights of Georgia. The Straights of Georgia can also be a challenge as it’s a major shipping channel and winds that funnel in much faster than the surrounding areas.

Our departure was timed to hit just before slack water at both passes. As it was, we were fine at both.

First Narrows was clear with no shipping traffic coming or going when we went through. All the Major ocean going vessels coming and going to Vancouver transit this very narrow harbor entrance.

Active pass is Z shaped and when the currents flow major whirlpools, rips and eddies form. It’s also used by the very large BC Ferry boats and when the currents are high, they skid around the corners. At the narrowest, Active pass is only 0.2 nm wide and you don’t want to meet a ferry during your transit.

Up here, the best way to avoid the big traffic is to listen to the Marine VHF Vessel Traffic Service. Vancouver Traffic is on VHF 12 and the Straights of Georgia and the Gulf Island Area is Victoria Traffic on VHF 11. By monitoring those channels you can hear when the cargo ships, ferries and other large vessels are transiting the passes.

As it was, two ferries passed through Active Pass right before us and we were able to adjust our passage time to let them through first. We came through Active Pass safely just before slack water and then proceeded down to Canoe Cove, here on Vancouver Island. The Pass was actually very beautiful, with homes nestled in the hills.

The Marina here is very rustic and scenic. The only downside is all the boat houses! It makes half the marina look like a storage facility. Surprisingly, people actually come down and spend time on their boat in the boat house. It seems to us like living in your RV in your garage!

Naturally, with all this lovely moisture, the landscape is very green. As we sat in the pub’s dining room last evening, overlooking the garden, we noticed how the plants were the same we have in Santa Rosa. The bad part of that is Bill’s allergies really flare up in Santa Rosa at this time of year. And so they are the same here too. Hopefully it will be better as we go north. And there will need to be “pre medication” for Bill when we go to Butchart Gardens.

Sunday we rented a car and drove around the Sidney area. It’s quite lovely with lots of little shops, bookstores (didn’t see many of those in Mexico!), coffee houses and cafes. Sidney has a lot of retirees, there are many senior living facilities around town and stores that cater to their needs. Many restaurants advertise “early bird specials” for seniors. To be a senior here, though, you need to be 65 – none of this wimpy US, you’re a senior if over 50 stuff

We had Raptor Dance hauled out on Monday to get our bottom re-painted and accomplish some other tasks. It’s always nerve racking to see our floating home up on a Travel Lift moving across the parking lot! Also, this Travel Lift was smaller than the last one, but still ample to hold Raptor Dance’s 37,000 pounds – it’s capacity is 60,000 pounds. So we had to pull the Clevis Pins at the bottom of the Genoa and Staysail roller furlers to get the head stays clear of the Travel Lift’s cross beam. All went well and Raptor Dance is now safely on stands in boat yard.

Our prior bottom paint, Petit Trinidad SR, was applied last July and it just didn’t do a good job in Mexico. We’ve heard that nothing really does – except the old Tin based paints that are now illegal since their so toxic they kill stuff on the bottom of the bay and not just the bottom of the boat!

We’re switching to a paint formulated for up here – an ablative paint, Petit Horizon – that wears away as your moving, exposing new copper (that’s the biocide in the paint) and takes the marine growth with it.

Also on Monday we checked into the B&B. We’re staying at the Amity Guest Retreat, just South of Sidney. It’s a very lovely place, run by a friendly couple: Shirley and Ken Moncur, see: http://www.guestretreatbb.com/ The bad news: they have two cats! The good news: the guest rooms are separate from the main area and the cats don’t get to the rooms. The good news: they have Internet, the bad news: their computer/office with the connection is the cat’s room! So, It’s Allegra time! Actually, I have to take it anyway due to the other pollen – so no problem.

Another great place for connectivity is the Rum Runner Pub http://www.emenus.ca/rumrunner/info.htm on the waterfront in Sidney. Free Internet and good beer!

That’s the news as of Tuesday, June 7th

In our next report, we’ll fill you in on what we’re finding regarding the wineries here on Vancouver Island, plus a report on Butchart Gardens http://www.butchartgardens.com/ and the Victoria Butterfly Gardens http://www.butterflygardens.com/

Warmest Regards,
Bill and Mary

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