Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Chapter 12 Sailing to the end of the 2009 Cruise...

The first image of this last series of the 2009 AQUILA Cruise is Catherine in the sunset from Jones Island Marine Park in the San Juan Islands. Moments before this photograph we stood on these bluffs overlooking the saltwaters and watched dolphins swim by. But first, lets pick up where we left off last installment...

Leaving Roche Harbor astern we set sail in a light NW breeze. Our departure was in the late afternoon following our stroll through the Westcott Bay Reserve. Our 2009 cruise was drawing to closure with only three nights remaining before hauling the boat and prepping her for the trailer haul over the Cascades. This map roughly shows our course from Roche Harbor to the first "X" where we spent the night on a buoy on Jones Island. The next "X" is where we spent the night on the dock at James Island Marine Park and the final phase of the journey routes us into the port of Anacortes.

From the comments received I know that many FIREWATER blog readers have not traveled upon, nor navigated a small boat through the islands. Nothing fancy on AQUILA. Here is a photo of her helm station, located in the cockpit, just aft of the dodger. A basic binnacle with instruments showing water depth, vessel speed, a handheld GPS with a quick mount, a microphone capable of controlling the VHF radio mounted in the navigation station below decks. Note the paper chart folded forward of the covered compass. Nothing like a good old paper chart to plot the navigation on.
When we arrived at Jones Island the norwesterly wind had shifted to NE and a wind wave pattern was rolling into the anchorage. That made all of the buoys available as it appeared no one else wanted to spend the night in the roll of the waves. No problem for us as AQUILA is a stable vessel and tends to keep her nose to the wind. We hiked across the island to the western shore and took these photos of the sun setting across the Canadian Gulf Islands. It was a fine early autumn evening and along with the sunset we checked out the dolphins, the seals, gulls and eagles.
While we knew the voyage was coming to a close, we were in no hurry for it to do so. Thus when the next day dawned chill with a light northerly breeze we motorsailed under the genoa and I let the auto-pilot do the steering as I sheltered under the dodger and alternated between navigating the islands, enjoying the scenery and reading the Ken Kesey book I had purchased at the used bookstore in Ganges. Catherine was engaged in much of the same below decks occasionally passing up warm coffee and soup to ward off the chill.
By the end of the day our sailing efforts paid off and we found the ever-popular dock of the James Island Marine Park not only available but empty. In fact a hike across the island and peek into the other anchorage showed we had the entire island park to our selves. That is rare, although with the forecast for cold & windy conditions it was apparent the weather had most certainly changed from a fair and sunny autumn to a chill and blustery one. No problem. We enjoyed our very quiet time on the island dock. Quiet that is until the westerly winds howled into the anchorage. Still AQUILA is a snug little vessel and we were enjoying a game of Scrabble and listening to an XM jazz channel on the radio.
We had initially thought to stay on James Island for two nights and we were listening to the weather every few hours on the VHF to see what the conditions for crossing Rosario Strait would be like in the morning compared to this 2nd afternoon we were on the island. The winds abated and the rain eased while we were out rowing about in our rain gear. When the late afternoon sun broke through the clouds and Catherine turned to me and said, "We should go now." That's all it took. We had spent the better part of this month together working the boat, listening to the weather, planning the tidal passages and being in tune with one another. I knew her reasoning as soon as she said it. And I readily went with her suggestion.
Here's a photograph Catherine took as I readied the boat for the crossing of Rosario Strait and the route into Anacortes. I knew due to the tide and late hour of our departure we would end up making a night run up Guemes Channel between Fildalgo & Guemes island. No problem with that either. We are both veterans of night piloting and boat handling.
Another of Catherine's photos of me at the helm and running east with a westerly storm brewing. Lopez Island is falling astern with the setting sun but Rosario Strait is flat and fairly calm. So all we had to do now is beat the tides, dodge the ferries, out maneuver the tug boats, run the buoys and do it all in the falling darkness. Cool...
I snapped this rather 'moody' image of the westerly storm cell gaining on us. There was not enough wind to sail and we had the little 18hp Yanmar diesel cranking about 2,800rpm to scoot us across the strait.

Well we made it across and into the marina in the dark of night. It was a good feeling to tie to our assigned dock space in Cap Sante Boat Haven and sleep soundly. Our plans held for the recovery of AQUILA out of the saltwaters and back onto her trailer. It took another full 24 hours, with us sleeping onboard another night in the boat yard, for the vessel to be road ready.
Seems like we started this series of blog posts out, about 12 installments ago, with one of my over-worked sayings... "It takes a lot of work to have this much fun." And that was our mantra that final day in Anacortes as we lowered the mast, stowed the gear, hauled the sails needing repair to the sail loft, returned some gear to West Marine, fixed the trailer lights, checked tire pressures, double checked hitches & chains, tied up the wide load signs, cinched down straps, and generally enjoyed working on chill, damp autumn day getting ready to haul a 30 foot sailboat over the Cascade Mountain Range. Another Catherine Brown photograph as we climb Stevens Pass.
I had initially thought that the above photo of AQUILA, now a 'trailer hulk' being hauled over the mountains would end this series but then I realized there was one missing element. The 'credits' if you will. So while the music plays and the other viewers leave the theater I invite you to one more look at the cast of characters in this story. Double click the image for a larger view and...
Thanks for following along.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Chapter 11: Welcome back to the U.S. of A. Roche Harbour

That beautiful dawn over Ganges Harbour gave way to a brisk norwesterly breeze and with our visit to the market wrapped up the sailing vessel AQUILA hauled the anchor and set sail for the United States, more specifically the Customs & Immigration dock in Roche Harbour on San Juan Island. It was a delightful, if rollicky, downwind sail out of Canada. From AQUILA'S boat journal: "1144:hours, Saturday 09.26.09; 60* in the sunshine; winds NW 10 to 12 knots; tracking 128* out of Ganges Hbr. toward Channel Islands. Love the sound of wind waves lapping the hull & the play of sunlight as the vessel pitches & yaws to wind & wave. Tis a fine way to depart the nautical island village of Ganges."
We'll pick it up on this map format again; back in the San Juans'. Given we are in-bound from Canada, we are not allowed to anchor or have contact with other vessels in United States waters until clearing customs, thus our destination Roche Harbor. But given that we have to visit Roche the plan is to take in a sight neither Cathy or I have seen - the "Colors Ceremony"

From the Roche Harbor brochure:

"Each evening at Roche Harbor, a very special ceremony takes place just before sunset. "The Colors Ceremony" is a nightly tradition throughout the summer season is highly revered by all who work at — and visit — Roche Harbor.
The Retirement of the Colors can be viewed and heard from almost anywhere in the harbor. The ceremony is taken very seriously by our employees and has been a tradition at Roche Harbor since the summer of 1957. It is a non-military ceremony formulated by the late Reuben J. Tarte who bought the property in 1956."
Here is an aerial view of Roche Harbor from a stock photo I found on-line. The harbor is on San Juan Island. Orcas Island is in the background and if one looks closely Mount Baker is visible in this image in the distance.

For my good friend Wheeler (boat builder & boat follower) whose family built a cabin on the west side of Pearl Island, I've included this chart copy. As can be seen on this chart, Pearl is one of the primary islands guarding Roche Harbor from wind, waves and tidal currents.
I placed the red X on the chart to illustrate the location of the Rocha Harbor Marina. AQUILA anchored off a bit to the west of the X.

Catherine caught this image (and some video) of the Colors Ceremony.

A little history here:

Haro Strait, the body of water dividing the United States from the Canadian, Vancouver Island, derives its name from this Spanish explorer, Captain de Haro, who led one of the first European explorations of the San Juan Islands in 1787. Fast forward to 1845, four years before the California Gold Rush, the Canadian based Hudson's Bay Company posted a notice of possession on San Juan Island, and built a log trading post at the head of Roche Harbor on the northwest shoulder of the island. This didn't necessarily sit well with the American traders & settlers moving west. By 1857, three years before the first shots of the Civil War, both the government of the United States & that of Canada, were claiming the San Juan Islands as property. A little known 13 year dispute arose over the western end of the boundary between British and American territory. Fortunately the dispute lay dormant during the Civil War, but by 1871 the United States and Great Britain selected Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm to arbitrate the dispute. In 1872, Wilhelm awarded possession of the San Juan Islands to the United States. The dispute is commonly referred to as THE PIG WAR. For more info go to: http://www.nps.gov/archive/sajh/pig_war_new.htm

Okay, back to the now (or a bit closer to it)... Catherine in the gardens of the marina with Hotel de Haro as the backdrop. We were hanging out awaiting the 'Colors Ceremony".

The old lime kilns of Roche Harbor: Photo by Catherine Brown:

These great, continuous feed kilns which look so rustic now were "state of the art" in their time and replaced older far less efficient beehive style kilns. Following the destruction by the San Francisco 1906 earthquake and resulting fires; much of the city was rebuilt using mortar and concrete produced from Roche Harbor lime. The kilns are built of layers of masonry brick work, native stone, and massive logs. Backed by a tall cliff these great furnaces were loaded from the top, eventually spilling out the refined lime from metal hoppers which can still be seen inside the lower vaulted chambers.

Here's a complete view of one of the two large, standing kilns.
Producing lime was no easy task in the early 1900s. Additionally the industry had a profound effect on San Juan Island and it's environment. The kilns were wood fired hot enough to evaporate off the water from the raw, crushed lime. Some workers of the time described the kilns as "hotter than the fires of hell" as the temperatures reached nearly 2,000 degrees, day & night, for 11 months of the year. Cutting kiln fire wood resulted in vast sections of the forested islands being clearcut. The resulting erosion stripped soils from the uplands, the wetlands filled, and productive shellfisheries lost. Fortunately nature has a way of healing her wounds and today the forests are returning, some bays have abundant shellfish, and the uplands support vital plant environs.
Gardens, gardens everywhere and quite enjoyable to stroll through.
Catherine in the gardens of Hotel de Haro.

One of the walks we took this trip was new to us both. Catherine guided us to the Westcott Bay Reserve Sculpture Park. Which is where I caught this image of the sea otters playing before the pond.

Cathy Lou on a carved bench in the Westcott Reserve Sculpture Park. From their website: "The Sculpture Park at Westcott Bay Reserve is a nineteen-acre microcosm of the San Juan ecology: forests, meadows, freshwater wetlands, saltwater wetlands, and rocky outcroppings. The trails throughout the Reserve are interspersed with interpretative displays about nature and a rotating exhibit of over 100 sculptures, creating an outdoor museum for all ages. Sculptures include works in bronze, stone, wood, metal, glass and ceramic by noted artists from the Pacific Northwest."

I have to say, while our photos are good they don't come close to doing justice to these amazing works of art. This 'Otter with Frogs" is over four feet in length, three feet tall and a fantastic piece of work. If ever you visit Roche Harbor I certainly suggest setting aside a couple of hours for a walk in this most interesting park.

I'll close with this image by Catherine Brown...
The next chapter or 12th installment will be the last of this 2009 AQUILA Cruise. Even in looking forward to bringing this phase of the FIREWATER blog to a close I'll admit it has been a fun project to undertake. So...
Keep a weather eye peeled for that last & final piece of the tale...

Westcott Bay Reserve Sculpture Park: http://www.wbay.org/

If you'd like to know more about this general area go to:
Roche Harbor Marina: http://www.rocheharbor.com/

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Chapter 10: Ganges Harbour, Village & Market...

Ganges is the largest village on Saltspring Island. Tis also the business centre and, according to some, the hub of the Gulf Islands. I've made it a point to sail into this fine harbour during each of a dozen or more trips I've made into the Gulf Islands. Ganges Harbour provides a good anchorage for boaters wishing to explore the village. The town of Ganges is located on the east shore of Saltspring Island, at the head of a long natural harbor bounded by rocky islets. Keep a lookout for crab buoys, bustling boat traffic and the numerous seaplanes landing, taxiing & taking off as you approach from the south. The anchorage is very busy and crowded in summer, and if a southerly breeze kicks up in the afternoon mariners beware. The 1st photograph is the S/V AQUILA at anchor in Ganges Harbour on a late September day.

In this Robin Thom aerial image we see the southern approach to Ganges Harbour with the Three Sisters Islands in the foreground and Ganges in the back. Ganges and indeed Saltspring Island has a diverse and interesting history. The village was named after HMS Ganges, the flagship of the Royal Navy's Pacific Station between 1857 and 1860. Built in 1821 HMS Ganges was an 84-gun ship of 2,284 tons, carrying a crew of nearly 800, and is reported to be the last British sailing warship commissioned for duty in foreign waters.

This is an image Catherine caught of a wanderer in Ganges waterfront park. Because the village is built on Grace Point there are three distinct waterfront portions to the town.

Catherine enjoying part of the vast selection of used books at a waterfront shop in Ganges. We purchased books by local writers as well as a Ken Kesey novel and a couple of hard to find charts.

Continuing with the history of this fascinating island community; the Tsawout Band of the Salish First Nations still has holdings on the south coast portion of Saltspring Island. European exploration of the island began with the Spanish and British in the 18th century. Settlement started in the 1850’s by pioneers from the B.C. mainland. What may come as a surprise to some is that these early settlers were joined by groups of freed slaves who emigrated to Canada and Saltspring Island after leaving the United States. At that time Canada and particularly British Columbia was seen as a land of freedom and of opportunity for many blacks. In 1858, blacks from the United States were formally invited by British Columbia Governor James Douglas to take up land in the new colony. In the States, many blacks were denied rights such as citizenship rights, suffrage rights, and the right to homestead land, and they saw British Columbia as a place of freedom. Upon welcoming black settlers to Saltspring Island, James Douglas distributed land to the new settlers, allowed new black citizens the right to vote, and allowed black male citizens to become part of the local militia.
Saltspring Island today is home to artists, farmers, craftfolk, retirees, and vacationers who visit the island by B.C. ferry, private boat, and floatplane to enjoy a laid-back lifestyle in natural beauty.
Here Cathy is playing the role of "vacationer" and enjoying a late afternoon Irish coffee and pastry at the Treehouse Cafe' in Ganges.

This is a busy little town, at least in the fair weather part of the year. The streets are abuzz with pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. The marinas, restaurants, bakeries, craft stores and a multitude of quaint shops all do a brisk trade during 'on' season. An AQUILA crew favorite is the Treehouse Café, a mostly outdoor venue serving lunch, dinner and evening music.

This is another photograph of the Treehouse Cafe', this time after dark. We stopped in this evening for refreshments and to listen to a solo guitarist, singer, songwriter providing the evening entertainment.

This dawn, on the 26th of September was a beautiful, still morning. AQUILA has a small but very efficient wood burning stove/fireplace which I lit upon arising. As the warmth filled the cabin and while the water for the French press coffee boiled this photograph found it's way into the camera. We would be departing Ganges Harbour later this morning but first our mission ashore was to visit the celebrated Ganges Saturday Market.

What’s so special about the Ganges Market? It has an advertised and enforced HOMESPUN GUARANTEE ensuring all vendors "make it, bake it, or grow it" themselves, and all products must be "vendor produced and sold". This is the mandate which provides the essence of the special market in this unique waterfront Gulf Island village. Here is a collage of some of the photographs I took that morning while visiting the market.

We'll close this 10th installment of our visit to Ganges Harbour, Village and Market with this photograph Catherine shot on our way out of the anchorage. A local sailing vessel bedecked in colorful flags. And speaking of flags. Our next destination is Roche Harbor in the San Juan Islands, where we will clear U.S. Customs back into the United States and take in the renown sunset flag ceremony of Roche Harbor.
See you there...
Saltspring Island Saturday Market: http://www.saltspringmarket.com/

Friday, October 23, 2009

Chapter #9 Wallace Island, Canover Cove...

As I mentioned in the closing of the last chapter, there was a delightful surprise awaiting us in Conover Cove, one of the most popular destinations of the Gulf Island. But before we go there I want to open this chapter with a look at the indigenous people of this area as represented by this artwork I photographed on the Alaska-Marine Highway.
The Hul'qumi'num people of southeastern Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and the lower Fraser River are made up of six First Nations: Cowichan, Chemainus, Penelakut, Lyackson, Halalt and Lake Cowichan. They are a Coast Salish people who have lived in, travelled and fished the waterways of the Strait of Georgia and the lower Fraser River for thousands of years. The way of life for the Hul'qumi'num people is rooted in the land. Traditionally, extended families lived together in longhouses. Settled in many villages with populations between one hundred and several thousand people. Each longhouse sheltered extended families, including grandparents and other relatives, all of whom had their own designated space. The Northwest Coast is rich in Salish ancestors' heritage. Over 1,000 archaeological heritage sites have been recorded on southeastern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands some date back over 5,000 years, contemporary to the Old Kingdom of Egypt. Many other heritage sites have not yet been dated or recorded.

As I have mentioned in previous chapters, this September was the busiest I've seen since I started cruising these waters in my own boat in 1995. As we cruised southward along Wallace Island we looked into the other anchorages and they were pretty full of boats. That didn't bode well for finding an open slot in the popular Conover Cove further south on the island. This is where that surprise comes in. On the final approach to Conover Cove we noted a motorboat go into the anchorage, apparently look around and come out. As that vessel departed we drew near enough to the point we could see into the cove. There on the leading edge of the small marine park dock was the MAGGIE K, but no other dock space available. I had just started considering where to anchor when Eric hailed us from his boat. The motorboat directly behind MAGGIE K was leaving and sure enough a few moments later we had AQUILA portside tied to the Wallace Island, Conover Cove, Provincial Marine Park dock. Indeed a good stroke of luck.

Image #3 shows the MAGGIE K & AQUILA on the outside of the dock with three other sailboats in the inside. It made for a very nice, cozy neighborhood.

Remember to double click on an image to see a larger version. You can right-click to "Save Picture As". All FIREWATER photos are copywrite but you are welcome to save & use for non comericial applications if credit is given.

Wallace Island Marine Provincial Park is only accessible by boat. The park lies in Trincomali Channel between Galiano Island and the northern tip of Saltspring Island, off southern Vancouver Island.

A bit of local history: after World War II, David Conover purchased the island and moved here with his wife Jeanne. The couple developed a successful holiday resort and Conover became a successful author, writing four books - “Once Upon An Island”, “One Man’s Island”, "Sitting On A Saltspring" and "Finding Marilyn, A Resource". In the first two books he described the couple’s struggles and joys after their purchase of the land in 1946. Their resort, the Royal Cedar Cottages, was advertised as having "a modern well-stocked store, cabins, recreation hall and boat rentals." In the mid to late 1960's, Conover sold the majority of the island to a group from Seattle. Disagreements among the owners led to litigation and the property was again came up for sale. Wallace Island was purchased through a court ordered sale and became a provincial marine park in 1990 through the cooperative efforts of local activists, the provincial government and BC Marine Parks Forever.
The S/V AQUILA carries a copy of 'Once Upon an Island', which both Catherine & I have read.

Given that you've been introduced to the local history its now time to meet some of the locals. Photograph #4 is just one such family. A momma and her three kits. Did you know that Vancouver Island and it's environs have their own subspecies of raccoon? 'Procyon lotor vancouverensis' being 'island locked' is somewhat smaller than it's mainland cousin. And believe me that take advantage of their 'slighter' size. Momma and her kits were out for a late afternoon walk, stretching their legs, practicing their sprints and probably mimicking unbuttoning sunbrilla covers. For when darkness fell they were on the prowl at one of the most prosperous hunting grounds - the Conover Cove docks. These procyons are not shy. They will board a boat with sleeping dogs nearby. And their not slow. Eric tells the story of sitting about on this very same dock and playing music into the night. One musician heard a noise, looked up and saw a raccoon climb out his boat's forward hatch with a full sized, foil-bag, loaf of garlic bread. The barefoot boat owner broke into a sprint down the dock yelling at the coon. But human was too slow and the raccoon family had garlic bread with their pasta that night. And indeed they boarded us all on our first night dockside in Conover. In fact Catherine awoke to a noise looked out the screen covered, open portal above our berth and saw a very young raccoon staring back at her. She drew in a big breath and blew right in it's fuzzy face. You could hear the claws clicking across the fiberglass as that young critter dashed off the boat after seeing the monsters who lived inside. We were laying in the berth laughing out loud. AQUILA was shut tight against such a midnight boarding party. Although a nearby motorboat wasn't. The coons managed to get inside his enclosed cockpit, climbed the ladder to the fly-bridge and found a very old bucket of rotted bait. What a pleasant surprise to waken too. We could hear the yells of the owner and the barking of the miniature poodle and the giggles of the departing raccoons all at the same time.
But before all the animal antics began we could be found at the Conover Cove dock picnic table with our friends Eric & Cathy as they picked and sung their way through a number of folk songs.
Later in the evening we were joined by another guitarist who brought a different flare to the jam. But it was the crew of MAGGIE K who held the night on the docks, in the depths of the Gulf Islands under the early autumn stars.

We awoke the next morning with smiles. Our heads still full of the soft melodies of good homegrown music. A shared chuckle or
two regarding our furry visitors and well refreshed from a long, gentle rocking sleep. A fresh breeze was easing in from the norwest but the day held the promise of sunshine. Lots of it. We had barely finished brunch and the beginning of another Scrabble game when Catherine decided it was time to rig the Walker Bay dinghy for sailing. It took her a couple of passes to get the feel of it but a few moments later she was out the gate, through the entrance to our cove and into the channel beyond. I followed along in the Eaglet and caught these pics of her sailing in fine form.
Our friend Cathy is a paddler with a kayak carried aboard MAGGIE K. Catherine offered to let her take the sailing dinghy out and Cathy was all for it. Here's a photograph Catherine caught of Cathy at the helm.
Sailing aside, the Scrabble game finished, a salmon and bree cheese lunch washed down with crisp white wine and we were ready for some landbased adventures. There are several miles of hiking trails on the island and the sculpted sandstone shoreline makes very interesting bouldering, especially at low tide. This was not our first visit to Wallace Island or Conover Cove. In fact when the S/V AQUILA first visited this island in early April of 2006 we had left our vessel name plaque along with hundreds of others in an old cabin remaining from the Royal Cedar Cottages Resort of the Conover days. See image below.

This old cabin is roughly 20' X 20' in size and literally chock full of boat name plaques, memorabilia, homegrown art & craft work, notes-in-bottles, carved planks and shells, all rather haphazardly tied, nailed, tacked, wedged and strewn about. It is pretty interesting to wander through reading the various bits of this & that. Occasionally we find the names of some acquaintances vessels (we've rehung one that had fallen to the crowded floor). Our AQUILA plaque is representative of some of the hundreds in the cabin. The oldest we found was from a drilling barge that was anchored nearby in 1945. If you ever get to Wallace Island this is one sight you don't want to miss...

In photograph 10 Catherine is seen holding a couple of gull feathers and perched inside the old goat pen. This stacked rock and cedar topped relic is part of the old complex of cabins and structures left over from days gone by.

And speaking of 'days gone by' check out my new wheels, at least what hasn't vanished into the mire below this old truck. There's probably hundreds of photos of yokels like yours truly who have climbed behind this wheel for a mug-shot. Come to think of it as popular as this anchorage is I'd bet more folks have sat in this rig since it's become a relic as had ever done so when it was a working truck. Just a reminder of that old Steve Miller song, "Time keeps on ticking into the future"...

Our second night of music with Eric & Cathy took place below decks to avoid that cool northerly that had kicked up again that evening. Being in the shelter of MAGGIE K's cozy cabin allowed Eric to bring our the dobro and add a whole different flavor to this night's music. Catherine and I were quite honored to be guests on MAGGIE K three nights in a row. Thank you Eric & Cathy!

I'll close this 9th installment with a photo near & dear to my heart. Not because it reflects such fine evenings in Conover Cove, which it does; and not because it is such a fine photo (its okay). Nope this photograph is special to me in that it is the last bottle of my cousin Larry & Jane Pearson - Spilya Cellars, Mountain House White, from their Taptiel Vineyard. For more info and great wine go to: http://tapteil.com/

S.O.S. to Tapteil - "H.e.y-c.o.u.s.i.n.s-c.o.m.e-s.a.i.l.i.n.g- B.r.i.n.g-w.i.n.e"...


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The 8th Chapter of the '09 AQUILA Cruise...

Hauling South Into the Gulf Islands and a Great Canadian Encounter...
Lets start this 8th segment of the '09 AQUILA Cruise out with some sailing. Tis the first full day of autumn and Aquila is again close-hauled across the Strait of Georgia. This was a great day on the open water of the straits. Catherine is deep in her book "Light on the Island". The boat is tuned in and I'm enjoying just being on the water. To see a short sailing video from this day go to: http://www.youtube.com/user/Fosterfanning?gl=CA&hl=en#p/a/u/0/csqjnC7zdXE
We departed Jedediah Island fairly early in the morning, realizing the anchorage in Deep Bay was as far north as we would get on this cruise. There are so many other great places I'd like to take Catherine but the Solstice had passed and the plan was to haul the boat on the first of October. I didn't want to be in a rush on our return trip so south we turned her bow and as the winds of fate blew upon us, I am glad we did.
As can be seen in the attached photographs the early autumn weather was near perfect. In this picture the near land is the southern Upwood Point of Texada Island with mainland British Columbia as the backdrop. The area is known as The Sunshine Coast and is a beautiful portion of the lower Inside Passage to cruise.
I had to edit these pictures together to illustrate a most unusual cloud development formation which occurred while we were under way this early autumn day. Check out how the clouds build over these islands through the following pictures. Then the clouds bluffed out making strange formations. While they may be more common than I think, I certainly hadn't seen anything like it when cruising this area before.
Here' a picture Catherine caught of me intensely focused on piloting AQUILA though a somewhat rocky maze into Silva Bay. Let me take you back to Installment #5 North to Nanaimo and the meeting with the Silva Bay Yacht Club. As it worked out we sought out their docks to take Commodore Sorrenti up on his offer of visiting their docks "if ever we were in their area". Indeed we were and we did. As it worked out it was a fateful experience for AQUILA and her crew. Unfortunately we did not get to see the good commodore or any of the other members of the club but there was another visiting boat there, the older sister of our boat. Eric and Cathy were guests at the Silva Bay Yacht Club on their sailing vessel the MAGGIE K. When I say "older sister" I mean that MAGGIE K is an S-2 like our own boat but she is a 35 footer. And a beautiful craft as well. We were invited aboard by Eric & Cathy and ended up spending three nights in their company. But the best was yet to come...
The Silva Bay Yacht Club: http://www.silvabayyachtclub.com/

Here's Catherine in the early morning light, freshly showered, with a mug of steaming hot coffee in hand, checking out the chart book and confirming my piloting through the isletts outside Silva Bay. We were enroute for the slack waters of Gabrolia Pass.

And here is the sailing vessel MAGGIE K steaming along on a fine early autumn morning bound as well for Gabrolia Pass. We had made arrangements with Eric & Cathy to catch up with them again on the evening of this new day if there was room in Canover Cove on Wallace Island.
Catherine contemplating one of my favorite spots - the cliffs of Valdes Island. Rising vertical out of the salty waters these cliffs are fascinating.
Home to abundant wildlife, and flora these lichen faces vertical rises are sculpted works of art shaped by the tectonic collision forces millions of years ago and eroded into their current shape. I hope to someday kayak their base end to end. For now we made due with bringing AQUILA to a stop on this calm day and admiring the landmass in front of us...

For more info on Valdes Island: http://www.vancouverisland.com/Regions/towns/?townID=4115
A mid-morning break at the cliffs of Valdes and we were ready to be underway. Our friends on the vessel MAGGIE K had long since vanished into the maze of the Gulf Islands by the time we continued onward...

Onward indeed toward one of our favorite destinations in the Gulf Islands, The British Columbia Marine Provincial Park of Wallace Island and Canover Cove. And I'll tell you this much about the next upcoming segment. Our arrival was nothing short of a delightful event is several differing ways. See you then...