July 30, 2005

Blind Channel Resort and Marina

Hello Everyone!

Well, the weather on the VHF radio from Environment Canada last night and this morning, waffled about a low front approaching just North of here. They weren't sure where it was headed and how strong it might be. They were talking definitely Gale warnings and possible Storm warnings (Storm warnings are even less fun with winds over 48 knots!). So we diverted this morning and headed to the Blind Channel Resort and Marina in Mayne Passage rather than head up Johnstone Straights where the crummy weather is forecast.

Blind Channel Resort and Marina has Wifi with a satellite link, so today and tomorrow we'll have Internet access. Still no phone coverage here though.

We ended up staying two nights at Oleo's Floating Restaurant and Marina. A very unique place. The Montoya family owns and runs Oleo's. Leon Montoya is the very charismatic 78 year old father. He's the famous character that everyone raves about, but the rest of his family is equally charming. Paul the son (in his 20s) is managing the place and handling all the upgrades, repairs, docking, etc. as Leon is off in Quebec taking care of the arrangements as a great uncle passed away.

Katrina, the daughter, runs the restaurant as Ruth the Mom was feeling under the weather with a knee problem. It turns out Katrina is only 17 and a Senior in High School (she seemed very sophisticated and we first thought she was in college). The schooling is by correspondence course and it seems like having friends her own age is not easy.

Oleo's has four entree choices for dinner: crispy duck, Louisiana chicken, stuffed peppers and cabbage rolls. We had the duck the first night and the chicken last night. Both were yummy. Dinner also included a nice greek salad (a feta complee!) and chocolate cake for dessert. Interesting, ay?

Note, we're picking up the Canadian language. "Ay" is VERY Canadian. So is, "You betcha" and "Don'cha know". We love it. It always brings a smile to our faces when we hear it.

Paul is also an experienced fishing guide. He used to guide for some of the big resorts nearby at $85 CDN per person per hour, but now he's running guided fishing trips on his boat from Oleo's at $20/hr. He want's it to be affordable for most folks. We thought this would be a good opportunity to learn and signed up to go yesterday morning (Friday, July 29th).

So we went with him Friday morning at 6AM. One other fellow went with us. So there we are, cool not cold, the first boat at the fishing ground as Oleo's is only a mile or so from the choice area. The other resorts are miles away.

Soon we were joined by a large group of small boats, all with guides and their clients. The way it works is we decide on a rotation, of who gets to handle the first fish on the line, second and next. Mary would have liked for the other gent to go first so she could see how to handle the fish. He was trying to be gentlemanly and insisted that Mary go first.

OK, so first hit... Paul sets the hook and Mary reels it in. It's a dog fish, a type of shark. It's released. Mary's still waiting for her turn with a salmon. We all are!

Finally, another fish strikes... Paul sets the hook... Mary reels and reels and reels. It's another dog fish. Her arm is getting tired already.

More than two hours have gone by and so our guide thinks he'd better check the bait, make sure it's still there.

On the way up, we get another strike...oh no. Is it another dog fish? No, it looks like a salmon. So Mary's reeling like crazy, listening to the instructions being yelling at her, getting excited. Mary was concentrating so hard she didn't see the fish! However, the other three of us could see that it was as fantastic 25 pound Spring (what the Canadian's call a King Salmon). It was fighting an jumping trying to throw off the hook and escape the holographic "flasher" about 3 feet up from the anchovy.

Unfortunately, he got away. He or she spit out the hook... Barbless hooks are used here by law, so that makes it much more difficult. You have to keep tension on the whole time or the fish comes unhooked!

The rest of the morning (until 10AM) was very quiet. How disappointing but fun. We did learn a lot.

Reeling in the lines, we caught a nice Quillback Rockfish - so we had rock fish tacos for lunch again.

Friday afternoon, Paul took another group of four out and the fish were biting like crazy and everyone got their limit in only 2 hours! Can you believe it?

We are going to try it from our boat as we go along. The equipment we have is for salmon fishing in California though. Here the fish much deeper and you need a down rigger and different gear.

More on the fishing story... The other gent got a bite and lost it. He thought it was probably a dog fish, Paul thought a small Salmon from the way the fish fought.

Bill never got to his turn. So nicely Paul only charged us for one person.

Paul is a great fishing guide and we'd recommend him highly. He's very knowledgeable and very inexpensive.

The Montoya family runs Oleo's the way things used to be! Highly recommended.

Katrina also bakes bread and cinnamon rolls for sale in the morning and does breakfast and lunch on request.

We did have some unexpected excitement last night. As we and the folks from two other boats were having dinner, we watched as another big power boat (a classic 50 foot Ocean Alexander, built in the late '70s or early '80s) started to come in. We were thinking and saying, "Where is he going? What is he doing?" He was all over the place. Then he started backing in and hit one boat and sent the dock reeling.

That cleared out the restaurant, small as it is. We all ran out to try to help. The Captain (alone without anyone else on the boat) definitely did not have control of his boat. Next he swung wide and our boat looked like his next target. So Bill ran to our boat, ready for defensive measures, if necessary.

Mind you this was all going on with almost no wind or current pushing his boat around...

Paul has a Captains License and offered to get on and park the boat for him. The captain kept up his inept efforts. Then finally said OK to Paul's help.

He had some difficulty too, not being used to the boat, until he found the bow thruster. It pushes the bow of the boat left or right as needed. The owner had not been using it. Now Paul was able to get the boat right in.

Whew! That was the only adrenalin rush we have had since we've been here. It took us all a little time to wind down. We all returned to our meal in the restaurant. It seemed everyone reached for a little more wine too.

Poor captain. We didn't find out until the next morning what the story was... We were pondering what his problem might be: new boat to him? Inexperience? Too tired? He stole the boat and didn't know how to drive? His crew deserted him? Or what? I'm sure he was mortified.

Next morning, we found out that he owned the boat for many years and was a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary. You'd think that means you know how to drive, but obviously, Nooooo! He'd been driving since early morning a long way from a place called Kwatsi up in the Broughton's. Most folks take 2 or 3 days to go that far. He was very, very tired and just lost it.

He left first thing in the morning before most folks got up - Paul had backed him and docked the boat (otherwise he wouldn't have been able to get off his boat as it was longer than the dock space available. So he could easily leave going forward. We would have left early too after the fiasco last night, if we were him. Whew again!

There is a nice German Restaurant here and hiking trails. So tomorrow we'll probably go hiking in the rain.

Warmest Regards to all!

Mary and Bill

July 28, 2005

Oleo's Restaurant - Frederick Arm

Hello Everyone!

We had a great four nights in Von Donop Inlet.

We caught some Rock crab and cooked them up (very nice, but there's so little meat per crab, they're not worth the bother) and 6 rock fish - very tasty. We lightly sauteed the rock fish fillets in butter, we had them for dinner one night and fish tacos the next day.

Dungeness crab were not around, not a sandy enough bottom. We'll try again for them further North.

Yesterday (Wednesday the 27th) our very good friends Chris and Julie James arrived in Von Donop on their classic Stevens motor yacht. I've know them since the the mid '80s from California Yacht Club in the mid '80s in Marina del Rey and they also were just down the dock from us in Alameda at Mariner Square, before they cruised up to the Pacific Northwest in April 2004.

We had a great time catching up yesterday afternoon. We all had a great Indian tomato vegetable balti that Mary made using the great Indian spices she bought at the Ganges farmers market on Salt Spring Island on July 2nd.

This morning, we raised anchor at 8 AM and headed for the dreaded Yaculta (YEW-cla-ta), Gillard and Dent Rapids. These three rapids are right in succession and they can be quite fearsome with currents in excess of 14 knots on the spring tides (We motor at 7+). The rapids also have tidal rips, whirlpools and overfalls (basically waterfalls in the middle of the channel). The last rapid of the series, also has the dread "Devils Hole", a great boiling cauldron of white water in the middle of a giant whirlpool. We've seen impressive pictures of boats going through the rapids and getting rolled. Boats have also been sunk and lives lost when boats capsized in the rapids.

So we did a LOT of planning to make sure that we went through at a neap tide slack! The strategy was to arrive at the first rapid, one hour before slack and proceed through all three in succession, reaching the last just as the tide turns to have the current carry us through. We did fine, we arrived actually 10 minutes early and made it through all three with only a little bouncing around in the rips and eddies. We never had a current exceed 2.5 knots going through.

Just beyond the other side of the rapids, we pulled into Frederick Arm and docked at "Oleo's" a funky little dock floating in the middle of an inlet off Frederick Arm. The dock is not connected to land, it's just in the middle of this little inlet. The dock has two 50 dock fingers in the shape of a U. Across the bottom of the U is the restaurant and the families residence. The family serves dinner every evening for up to 10 people and moorage is included in the price of dinner - $22 CDN per person. We'll report back on the food - it's supposed to be very good. There are two other boats here with us, so dinner tonight will be for 6.

Oleo's is run by a family of four, the mom and dad run the place, the daughter is a senior in college up here and the son is the fishing guide. Tomorrow we're going out with him to try our luck catching some salmon. We've got a lot to learn so we'll be taking lots of notes.

That's the news from here! We hope you all continue to have a great summer!

Warmest Regards,
Bill and Mary

July 24, 2005

Von Donop Inlet

Hi Everyone!

We Left Campbell River on Friday, July 22nd with much more benign conditions than on our arrival. We waited until Noon to leave so we would not have a strong head current right outside the harbour. The current in Discovery Passage can exceed our boat speed!

We motored over to Manson's landing on Cortes Island to see if we could see if the farmer's market was still in progress, but we later found out that it's held a mile inland. There was also no space at the government dock for us to tie up, so we continued on to Gorge Harbour.

The entrance to the harbour is a narrow gorge (thus it's name), with petroglyphs on the northern most rock wall. As hard as we looked, we couldn't make them out. There's a really nice anchorage inside the harbour with a nice resort and restaurant. We anchored out as the bay was lovely.

On our way to drop the anchor, who should we see, but Dave and Debbie on Megabyte, the Maxim powerboat. They were on the Baja Haha with us and also on Dockwise. Dave took some of the pictures of Dockwise underway you'll find on our website as he traveled along on the voyage. We had a great chat with them that afternoon catching up on what they've been up to, good spots to go, catch crab, etc.

As soon as they unloaded from Dockwise in Vancouver, they provisioned and took off heading North, thinking they might try for Alaska this year. All the unseasonable bad weather that hit BC this year thwarted their plans. They were holed up most of the time in anchorages in the Broughtons and Fjord Land (North of the Broughtons) with tons of rain and gale force winds. So they changed their plans and are now headed back South.

Now that the weather has finally turned nice, we're headed part of the way that way. At least to the Broughtons.

Also, while in Gorge, we went for a nice 4 mile (round trip) hike to Whaletown, the next anchorage up. Nice walk, but not much there. There was one very small grocery/bait/boat supply shop, a library that is only open two hours a week on Friday afternoons and a few houses. It's main claim to fame is that the ferry stops there. We stopped along the way and had an Espresso at the only cafe on the island with a machine.

On our way back, we stopped for Halibut burgers at the restaurant before heading back to Raptor Dance.

This morning, we left Gorge and headed the 14 miles to Von Donop Inlet, long narrow twisty inlet (about 4 miles long). We're anchored in a little cove at the head end with trees all around and lots of wildlife (Otters, Seals, Eagles, Geese - no bears yet).

We set our crab trap as soon as we got here and 3 hours later, we had our first 4 Dungeness Crabs! They were all undersized though so we threw them back and reset the trap. Oh well, Fajitas for dinner today instead of crab.

That's the latest from here!

Warmest Regards,
Bill and Mary

July 21, 2005

Campbell River

Hi All,

We hope you are all fine and enjoying the summer.

We've just posted our most recent set of pictures on the website at http://raptordance.com, including some from the adventures, below.

Presently we are in Campbell River and preparing to move tomorrow morning.

When we last wrote we were enjoying ourselves at anchor in Melanie Cove, Prideaux Haven. There are several paths on land, so we did some hiking through the dense forest. This brought us to Laura Cove, another fine anchorage but smaller.

After a few days we were ready to move on. Teakerne Arm had been recommended to us because of the lovely waterfall, but not for anchoring. There are a few rings imbedded in the rock wall to use as a stern tie. Too bad the anchoring wasn't better. There are some good hikes nearby. So we just did a "drive by" and then headed to Squirrel Cove for the night.

Squirrel Cove was great...lots of lobes for anchoring. So while there were many boats, it didn't feel crowded. The store at the pier was very well stocked. There was also a gift shop with creative offerings and a restaurant. We chose to eat at Marilyn's, whose speciality is cedar plank smoked salmon. Yum.

That was where we saw our first eagle.

One of the other interesting aspects to enjoy at Squirrel Cove is the (sometimes) connecting lake. In fact getting there is half the fun. There is a small stream that will allow a dingy to pass through at high tide. No motor is needed. In fact, it is still too shallow and there are too many rocks to have your motor in the down position. So you just position yourself in the mouth of the stream and sort of guide yourself with your oars as the "rapids" push you through. These are called the reversing rapids.

OK, so now you've (we've) explored the lake, watched the little fish and big star fish and are ready to return. If you've planned well, slack has passed and the rapids have now reversed. This doesn't happen quickly though, since the cove water is still higher at slack than the lake. We are getting mellow by now. So we pulled into a shady spot, relaxed and chatted with other boaters. Some folks had had enough of the lake and were ready to get back to their boats and have happy hour and/or dinner. It was wonderful. They made it through but not without a lot of fuss. The men were up to their hips in the stream trying to pull the dinghies through.

Meanwhile the others were trying to push from behind, row, or push off the rocks with oars. They felt they had accomplished something and we had marvelous entertainment.

We never did wait for the rapids to reverse. When the water level was high enough, we were able to motor through with the motor in the mid position.

After a few days at Squirrel and no internet access for over a week, it was necessary to move. So we headed south to Cortes Bay which supposedly has wireless thru the entire bay. That turned out to be true. BUT with the high winds and the boat swinging around, it was difficult to keep the directional antenna in the correct position. That, plus the thought of an uncomfortable night at anchor (the winds were already over 25kph) made us decide to up anchor.

Campbell River was our next destination. We had already arranged for our mail to be sent there. We had a rollicking good time crossing to Campbell. The winds were 30 to 35, but the swells were not bad, 3-4 feet. So, "No Worries Mate". Except that we still had our dingy in the water, towing it as most folks do in these parts. We were a little nervous about that, not wanting it to flip with the motor on. As we watched it though we could see it was doing quite well. And we were so happy to have our hard dodger protecting us from the ocasional aggressive waves.

So here we are in Campbell River. Many other boats joined us for a protected dock. We are back in civilization...a real town, with shops, movies restaurants, and our mail, the works.

Bill has spent quite a bit of time with boat chores and updating the software on our computers. We are fully stocked and ready to roll tomorrow, not expecting to find much in the way of provisioning for weeks.

Yahoo! We are ready to finally catch some fish and crabs...none as yet. Wish us luck.

Bye for now.
Mary and Bill

July 14, 2005

Melanie Cove, Prideaux Haven

Hi everyone!

In the last few days we've been tooling around Desolation Sound. We're now in Melanie Cove in Prideaux Haven (Not to be confused with Pardo haven, where Don Pardo hangs out... but that would put our boat in Jeopardy! Any questions?).

After leaving Refuge Cove on Tuesday, July 12th, we went into an absolutely beautiful anchorage up the Malaspina Inlet on the Gifford Peninsula, Grace Harbour. While the books say everyone ignores Grace Harbour, we did have about half a dozen other boats with us.

There's supposed to be good hiking around the harbour, but with all the rains, the main trail was knee deep in mud. So much for the hike.

We also met Brad and Darlene Simmons on "El Bucanero", a power boat from San Diego. There boat is interesting in that it's designed after the east coast lobster boats. It's similar to a Hinckley Picnic Boat, but a manufacturer I hadn't heard of before. A nice boat for a couple - in a cold climate. It would be too hot in a place like Mexico.

On Wednesday, we moved over to Okeover Landing in Okeover Inlet, at the far end of the Malaspina Inlet. The landing is a tiny government dock with room for about 3 or 4 boats in addition to the small fishing boats that are permanently there. No water or power, nothing really to recommend it over anchoring - except for the "Laughing Oyster" restaurant a short walk up the hill ( see: http://www.laughingoyster.ca )

We had a fantastic lunch and made reservations for dinner. As it was Wednesday, they had their weekly buffet set out. It was good, but not as great as lunch. We recommend that if you go, you go when David, the chef, can personally attend to your food. It loses a lot sitting in a chafing dish. However, if you want a lot of pretty good food at a reasonable price, go for the buffet. We broke our rule about buffets after lunch was so grand, but the rule is now back in place.

Malaspina Inlet and Okeover are major shellfish farming areas - with pristine water. So between lunch and dinner, we walked up the beach and harvested about 15 nice oysters. At low tide, they were lying attached to other old shells on the beach, we didn't even have to pry them off the rocks. We brought them back to the boat, did a quick cook on the BBQ, shucked them and put them in the fridge for later consumption (we didn't want to spoil our dinner).

This morning, Thursday, June 14, we moved over here to Prideaux Haven, one of the most popular areas in desolation sound. Great views of the snow capped mountains in the background and a very nice anchorage. We anchored in the Melanie Cove arm of Prideaux Haven as it was a bit less crowded with more room. We got a nice spot in the middle of the anchorage, in 30 feet of water with lots of room to swing - so we didn't need a stern line.

That's the latest news from Raptor Dance.

Warmest Regards,
Bill and Mary

July 10, 2005

Inaugural Perry Rendezvous North

Hi Everyone!

Reminder - we have no Internet or cell phone coverage here, so please communicate with us via our Winlink.org or Sailmail.com email addresses. As we're often down in fjords (not Chevys), even our Iridium phone has spotty coverage.

We had lot's of fun meeting the folks at the Inaugural Perry Rendezvous North last night and visiting today. The party was much smaller than the big Perry Rendezvous in Pt. Ludlow in August.

There were 4 other Perry design boats in attendance 3 Panda 40s: Warlord with Wilf and Bonnie, Alcyon with Steve and Pauline and Silverfin with Dick and Rennie; a Baba 30 with Harry and Paula and us. A group of very interesting folks: When Dick was a graduate student studying vulcanology, he was 10 miles from Mt. Saint Helens when it blew and took some of the famous poster pictures of it. Steve is a glaciologist and fellow electronics geek - he had loaned some of his instruments to the science teams studying the eruption and it wasn't until this party that they realized that they knew each other from back then. Lots great stories.

Refuge Cove has been a good spot to be in right now. It's a safe haven in bad weather. We got here Thursday, just before a "not normal for this time of year" storm went through. Friday was windy and rolly but we were safe and sound tied up to the dock, boats were rafted to each other as the little dock here was over full.

This is also a very active marina because it has a good store for provisioning, fuel dock, laundry, showers and (expensive) pay phone. These stops are fewer and farther between now that we're beyond "civilization". Many boats stop for just a couple of hours and then are on their way. We re told that during the highest season 600 boats pass through in a single day.

Dock space here is first come, first served with no reservations, just a big long dock where everyone needs to work out how they tie up on their own. As boats come and go all day, there's often lots of space between boats on the dock - not optimum packing. As there's no organization, you have to negotiate with the other boats to move down a bit to make room.

When we arrived space was tight and there were no open spots. As we temporarily rafted up to another boat, Bill ran the dock seeking a large enough spot. About 30 minutes later another boat left at the end of the dock. Spot found, beers promised, he enlisted neighboring Canadians to hold onto it for us. We raced right around the dock and tied up quickly. Did I mention that cleats don't seem to be used here. There is just another raised 4X4 rail along the dock to tie lines to. We miss cleats.

Anyway, our new neighbors didn't care about the beers. In fact they were very generous in sharing their catch. So we had tastes of the local oysters, clams and succulent shrimp. The shrimp were so good, we were tempted to buy a shrimp trap. But that would mean not only another trap but also another 300 feet on sinking line. So no shrimp trap purchased, yet.

The group of Canadians were a big extended family of 12 people on 4 small power boats. The largest was a 1970s era 24 foot Carver. The smallest, a 21 foot bow rider. It was definitely camping. As there wasn't much space on any of the boats, their party was held on the dock. When the rainstorm hit, we invited them on board Raptor Dance and we continued the party in our cockpit.

We did see lots of activity...boats getting in away from the rough seas and high wind. Then when calm came, most of the boats left and a new group filled right in. So we've been getting to know folks and hearing their recommendations as where the best places to go are.

We have definitely decided not to sail to Alaska (more of the same scenery, fewer people and boats, more bears and more rain). We will continue to explore Desolation Sound, The Broughtons, Gulf and San Juan Islands. We plan on ending up in Lake Union for the winter in Seattle in Early November before the weather turns cold.

We forgot to mention in our last email, arriving in Desolation Sound, we're now above 50 North Latitude - much closer to the North Pole than the equator. As a result they daylight hours have been quite long. For example, today morning twilight began at 3:37 AM , sunrise was at 5:21 AM, sunset will be at 9:27 PM and evening twilight will continue until 11:11 PM. This makes for a very long day, good thing we have blackout curtains in our stateroom.

The weather has also FINALLY turned nice, sunshine in the mid-70s today with continued high pressure building contributing to a great forecast for the coming week.

Warmest Regards,
Mary and Bill

July 8, 2005

Desolation Sound!

Hello Everyone!

We have been without any Internet connection since Tuesday - so if you'd like to contact us, please use our winlink.org address. We probably won't have connectivity again for a while. We're also currently out of cell phone range.

We're now in Refuge Cove in Desolation sound. We entered Desolation Sound yesterday afternoon.

After leaving Snug Cove on Bowen Island in Howe Sound on Tuesday, July 7th, we motored up to Secret Cove. The weather was pretty crummy with rain and light winds. We were comfy below our dodger and had no problems in the lumpy seas.

When we were in Mexico, we had our dodger poly carbonate windows replace as they were crazed and hard to see through. The new windows really made the rainy passage easy as we didn't have to stick our heads out in the rain.

We stayed in Secret Cove two nights. They have a nice store, and restaurant on the dock. The food was nice but unremarkable.

On Wednesday, Bill was reading the June issue of the local sailing magazine, 48 North, and noticed an announcement that a rendezvous was being held in Refuge Cove in Desolation Sound June 8 to 10th for all boats designed by Bob Perry (Valiants are one of his most famous designs). A quick look on the map showed that Secret Cove was only about 50 miles away - a long day's run.

So we called the organizers, Wilf and Bonnie Rennecke on the Panda 40, Warlord, to get the particulars. We huddled (always fun) and decided to go. So we signed up and planned to do the 50 miles in two legs. Leg 1 to Powell River, then Leg 2 to Refuge Cove.

Checking the weather Thursday morning, however, we heard that a front was forecast to come through on Friday with Gale Force winds in the area. So, instead we came all the way up to Refuge in one hop on Thursday.

We'll be here over the week end and give you a full report on the Rendezvous in our next email.

Warmest Regards,
Bill and Mary

July 4, 2005

Ganges, Long Harbour and Snug Cove

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/

Warmest Regards,
Bill and Mary