Messing about in Boats ~ the Pacific Northwest

One of the (many) delights of sailing is the characters you meet; there is something special about people who sail boats or fly planes.  Often eccentric; always independent – what they seem to have in common is the diversity of their life experiences, the breadth of their interests, and the scope of their practical abilities.  They are resilient, flexible and self-reliant.  Perhaps it is the freedom of being on the water and the challenge of pitting one’s self against the elements that attracts people who prefer to be unfettered and self-sufficient.

The rules of sailing are real: ignore good preparation and good maritime manners at your peril!  As Don Bamford said: “Only two sailors, in my experience, never ran aground. One never left port and the other was an atrocious liar.”  The sailors I’ve met have learned many things the hard way, and their tales of troubles- and disasters-past provide ample entertainment for those long stretches when the sail is set and there is little to do but sit and enjoy the wind and water.

Notice that I didn’t mention the sun!  This is because we saw very little of it during our last two weeks negotiating the waters of the Strait of Georgia between Vancouver Island and British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast peninsula.  We did have some sun, mostly on days when there was little or no wind.  We also had fog, mist, and rain… all the weather that you would expect from a Pacific Northwest autumn. Forecasted winds included regular small craft warnings, while the actual winds ranged from non-existant to almost gale-force, and were invariably icy!

One joy of sailing for me is the quiet.  I love slicing through the water without the benefit of the motor.  I also love sitting in the boat enjoying lunch or coffee ‘heaved-to’ in the middle of nowhere or tied up somewhere peaceful.  Another thrill is the access to wildlife and being able to visit wonderful places that would be otherwise out of reach. River otters frolicked on our dock (and on our boat, at one stage!) and numerous seals bobbed up and down in the frigid waters near us.  The birdlife – some of which I’ve managed to capture this time – was a treat.

Looking back through the photos, what I notice most is the predominant colour theme of each day: one day the green of reflecting waters; another day the grey of cold winds and rain; yet another, the misty blue of foggy firs and mountains.

Pier, Newcastle Island Passage, Nanaimo

A Great Blue Heron Greeted us as we Returned from our Shake-Down Sail.

Reefing the Main: This is usually my job, but I was at the helm of the boat, so shot this (left) through the plastic windshield.

Greens: Natural Sandstone Formation ~ Gabriola Sands Provincial Park, Gabriola Island, BC

Blue on Blue: A Sloop Racing, with the Mountains of Vancouver Island in the Background

Red Fishing Boat: When they clean the fish, the gulls stream behind the boats like a veil on the wind

Full Sail ~ Gray Day

Greys and Glitter: Welcome Pass

Warning Signs: Smuggler Cove Marine Provincial Park (which we also visited by land)

Green: Smuggler Cove

Browns: Seagull, Smuggler Cove, Sunshine Coast, BC

Cormorant on the Rocks: Smuggler Cove

The VERY dodgy wharf at Frenchman's Cove, Halfmoon Bay, Sunshine Coast, makes it a nice quiet spot to tie up.

White, Blue and Black: Thormanby Islands in the Afternoon

Distant Drummer: Moored in Idyllic Secret Cove

A Light in the Fog: Merry Island Lighthouse, Welcome Pass

Chasing the Sun: Racing the Storm back to Nanaimo

Wet and Wild: Wind, Rain and Water...

Batten Down the Hatches! It's Cold and Grey out There!

A Fitting end to our Sojourn ~ A Canada Goose joined us for our last meal on the boat.

“There is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats,” as Ratty said to Mole in Kenneth Grahame’s 1908 classic, The Wind in the Willows.  We had a wonderful time, and might have even learned a thing or two!

Safe Sailing!

  • gabe - October 30, 2010 - 1:07 am

    Best one yet. writing is super as are the photo’s. Loved sharing the experience with you

  • Signe Westerberg - November 1, 2010 - 1:54 am

    You guys are amazing, just love your travels, pictures and experiences. Thank you for including me.,.. XXReplyCancel

  • Gavin - November 1, 2010 - 5:36 am

    Enchanting! Beautifully written with great photos. What am insight you’ve given. Keep up the good work. I really look forward to hearing about your future adventures.ReplyCancel

    • Ursula - November 1, 2010 - 5:38 am

      Thanks, you guys! 😀ReplyCancel

  • Ron Tedwater - November 13, 2010 - 3:23 am

    Really nice post,thank youReplyCancel

  • […] Nanaimo sits on the east coast of Vancouver Island: almost due west across the busy Georgia Strait from Vancouver, and an easy northwest sail to the Sechelt Peninsula and its “Sunshine Coast” (see also: “Messing About in Boats”). […]ReplyCancel

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