Wow. I don’t know how to begin to explain last weekend except to say awesome and crazy. We had taken Monday off to create a 3 day weekend and although we had planned to leave Friday, thunderstorms and unsettled weather caused us to change our mind and we didnt get rolling until Sat Morning.
Saturday morning after a bit of a late start, we packed and fueled up the boat and promptly headed off to Ganges Harbour on Saltspring Island. Ganges is a busy anchorage with lots of pleasure craft anchored out, 4 or so marinas, and of course float planes taking off regularily! We pulled into the Kanaka government dock that gives 2 hours of free moorage between 9 and 4 and may have scored the last spot on the dock. But we were in time to check out the market! Everything at the Saltspring market is homemade on Saltspring and we found some great stuff including cheeses (omg these are so good), veggies, pies, ice cream and seafood. We were really impressed by Saltspring and its vibrant atmosphere and surprised by the size of it all. Ganges is one bustling little town.
Around 4pm when our dock time was up, we took off to Pirates Cove for the evening. Pirates is a beautiful and small anchorage on De Courcy Island. To get into the cove, there is a fairly small entrance surrounded by rocks. At low tide it is shallow and some care is needed to avoid these rocks. The people living on De Courcy are trying to help though, someone has painted an arrow on the rock that points to an X in a tree. You basically have to line up the arrow and the X drive towards them and then turn 90 degrees to port to enter. Any deviation and you may end up on said rocks.
We were quickly set after picking a spot dropping the anchor and backing up to tie up a stern line. Drinks ensued. We managed to score a few swims in amazingly warm water followed by an absolutely gorgeous sunset. I can’t begin to explain how beautiful this spot is.
Maybe it was the drinks. Maybe we’re still piecing our boat together. But little did we know we were in for a couple of near disasters.
It all stated with dinner… Our BBQ is not very well setup yet. I had bought an expensive BBQ mount but it turns out it didn’t come with bolts (somehow surprising). Long story short, my zap strap jerry rig caused near disaster when the BBQ suddenly shifted in the shoddy lake fishing rod holder and almost went overboard. The propane tank did indeed go overboard and dinner ended up being a delicious disaster.
And then… Off to bed we went. I immediately passed out while Ashley was kept awake by a storm that had rolled. Wicked north winds were blowing right into the harbour entrance. At 4AM she had lost the battle and lost consciousness. It was between this time and when I suddenly awoke at 6:30AM to the Depth Alarm going off on our Elite5 GPS Depthsounder that something had gone wrong. Out of bed I sprang. Odd thing is that I had layed out my jeans on the back bench just in case something like this would happen (Note to self, next time lay our board shorts). Our transom was probably within 5 feet of shore, our anchor had dragged. Not a great start to the day. After sorting out our stern line, resetting the anchor twice in increasing winds and to top it all off getting a random 2 foot section of floating line caught in the prop, we eventually gave up, and gave in. We were out of there! We headed to Newcastle Island where we know there are docks, a shower, flush toilets and much deserved sleep. Oh I forgot to mention Happy Birthday Ashley :).
Newcastle Island has a beautiful anchorage with lots of park buoys and a large dock to tie up to. We pulled into the dock next to two behemoth power boats. It was calm, stable and we were finally able to grab a couple of hours sleep. When we finally emerged from our well deserved sleep, the day had started to change again and we were all set for a beautiful sunny afternoon.
Newcastle has a network of very well maintained walking paths and really is a beautiful island. The harbour ferry service from Nanaimo makes this place a destination for family camping, day trips and school trips. Both Ashley and I remember coming here when we were in Elementary on trips. Funny, my memories aren’t the greatest; It rained most of the time and us boys in the tent managed to put two massive rips into the side. The first one was by accident. The second was by me while I was demonstrating to the teacher how the first ripped had occurred. I remember the teacher just being dumbfounded and left speechless.
Later in the evening, we cracked the champagne and the fancy Saltspring cheeses to finally celebrate Ashley’s Birthday! And eventually headed to the Dinghy Dock pub on protection island for a birthday dinner.
The dinghy dock pub has an absolutely beautiful location on a floating dock off Protection island. I highly recommend checking it out for drinks. I also highly recommend avoiding the food. It was probably the worst pub fare we have had in… ever.
After birthday dinner, Ashley lost her designer sunglasses overboard and decided not to jump in after them… I was swimming in harbour water the next morning.
Unfortunately we were unsuccessful on the sunglass front and to console ourselves, made a belated birthday cake instead. Hand made whip cream!
We pulled back into Pirates Cove again on the way home. Another great time although the water was not nearly as warm.
We have had quite the learning experience this past weekend. I’ll highlight some of our lessons learned: 1. Check the weather even on an amazing evening so you are not anchored on a lee shore in an overcrowded anchorage when a wind storm comes up. 2. Having 5:1 scope is easier said than done in a tight anchorage. 3. Sinking lead prawn trap line sucks for a stern line (the yellow floating stuff is what we will be getting) 4. Do not throw sunglasses onto the seat in our boat, the seat may bounce them overboard. 5. Having a mask and fins on the boat is necessary sometimes to retrieve your wife’s items lost overboard. 6. You need lots of loonies at Newcastle island to shower (1 loon only buys 2 mins of glorious hot water). 7. 1 block of ice only lasts 2 days, then things start to get warm in the cooler. 8. BBQ’s need to be securely fastened for cooking. 9. Sunshine and calm weather make everything easier! 10. Lay out board shorts not jeans if you have any suspicion you will be up in the middle of the night.