Saturday, April 30, 2016


The other day Kristi posted some photos of our new backyard in Squirrel Cove.  An account of our 1st 'shopping' trip here in Desolation Sound, and some lovely photos of tight passages and colorful wild flowers.  In case you need a refresher, here is one that caught my eye:

Just lovely.   But look a little closer, and what does one see??


And THIS!!!

Oysters.  EVERYWHERE.   Millions of them.  Fat, juicy, and oh so succulent Oysters.  The kind you pay massive $$ for in nice specialty oyster bars.   Just sitting there, waiting for the taking.  And the whole bay is covered with them.  As was the bay before this one, and the bay before that.  Everywhere.

I have the dinghy down, my 'special' Harbor Freight 2-foot long screw driver (aka, Oyster's Worst Nightmare).  Even a good Oyster knife and that oh so needed special Fishing License.   But alas, I do not venture out.  I do not shuck some on the rocks to enjoy then and there, do not bring a few back to put on the barbie.  Do not collect some to pan-fry up with a light breading.

I just let them sit there, taunting me.  

Why you ask?

Here is why:

Like last year, much of the Pacific Coast is inflicted with what is commonly called Red Tide.  Which has a side effect of leaving toxins in bi-valve shellfish that can lead to PSP.   Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning is nasty, leaving one very sick and can often be fatal.   That link above?  I have it book-marked on my desktop with the label 'YOU MAY DIE IN CANADA', and I check it regularly before I ever attempt to harvest any shellfish.

This lovely area we are in tonight, it is part of the 'Balance of Area 15 closed to all bivalve shellfish'.  Just like the anchorage before, and the one before that.  In fact, almost all of BC Canada is closed.  With very very few exceptions.

Just like last year.  (Last year we were in the South Sound, and the Red Tide had not made it that far down - - -  so the beaches were open).

And with that Kristi sees these lovely wild flowers, while I see . . .   ARGGGGGGG..... 


 (Perhaps some fans of Twilight Zone will get this reference).  

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Changing the Backyard

This morning my facebook status read 'It's Moving Day! We take our home with us. We just change the backyard.'

We had spent a week in Grace Harbor. It was time to move on. 

Today's destination was Squirrel Cove. We hear they are the best place for provisioning IN Desolation Sound. As we approached, there was plenty of room at the public dock, so we decided to take advantage of it rather than anchoring first and taking a 1-mile dinghy ride in our quite slow dinghy.

The General Store at Squirrel Cove has new owners. They and their staff are very friendly. We had several packages to 'post' and Al took care of that while I perused the shelves. To be honest, I was a little disappointed in the grocery selections, BUT it IS early in the season. 

The alcohol was reasonable. They are putting in a room of fishing gear. The Flying Squirrel take-out will open for weekends in about a month, before gearing up for summer a few weeks after that. There was a big freezer for meats, but it wasn't very full. There was another for frozen fruits and veggies. There was a big walk-in cooler for fresh fruits, veggies, and dairy. Locally roasted coffee beans were priced equivalent to what we're used to paying.

Most of the prices were as we expected -- it IS a rather remote island, and it costs money to get things here. 

But I had never seen a bag of potato chips with a $13 price tag before. It stayed on the shelf.

(Ed. note:  We learned later that we had visited on the last day before the new shipment. We were MUCH happier with the supply on our second visit. And now we know the best day to shop!)

A one-hour stay at the dock is complimentary. Four hours is half-rate. It would have been only $24 (Canadian) to stay the night. 

But we moved on, into Squirrel Cove.

Yes, we're going to go through that narrow opening. The chart shows the left side is a slanting shelf. The right is a more sudden drop-off, like a cliff.

The forward-looking sonar shows the 'wall' in front of us.

Yes, we're that close.

Pretty wildflowers atop the island we anchor next to. Plentiful, but poisonous, oysters crust the rocks. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Grace Harbor by Dinghy

It's our 5th day in Grace Harbor, and we finally got off the boat today!

Al put a crab pot overboard and caught one red rock crab. Hoping for more, he tossed the pot back in, throwing it outside the swing of the boat, since he would be leaving it for an overnight soak. This morning after breakfast he went to check it out.

Pulling, pulling, pulling

 I had been planning on doing the dishes before a dinghy tour, but since Al had it out and all warmed up, off we went!

I LOVE the quiet and reflections in this place

The little cove next to us - the other arm of the Y that is Grace Harbor

Below the reflections, a school of fish seems curious to see us! They were gathered around a fallen tree, but when we came by and turned off the motor to enjoy the quiet (we heard water falling), they moved over beneath us.

There's Viking Star,  waaaaaaaay over there!


A cruising friend warned us that they nearly always see bear or bear sign here, so Al dug out our bear spray. Even though there is a pic-a-nic table at the campsite, I have NO desire to meet Yogi!

There are some fallen-down remains of a cabin, a flat area with some fruit trees, and some lilacs in bloom! This is where our friend says the bears like to hang out. We talk loudly and Al claps his hands as he explores. But, it's flies and mosquitoes that come to bother us!

The water is much deeper than it looks.

Viking Star, and the dinghy, from the campsite.

First Nation emblem on the park signage.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Filling With Grace

This morning after breakfast we waited for a quick heavy shower to end, then pulled anchor from Cortes Bay. We enjoyed our time there and the MANY birds including oystercatchers, scoters, black-headed Bonaparte's gulls, and several tiny birds I'm going to guess were least auklets.

Though this bay holds two huge outstations, one for the Seattle Yacht Club and the other for the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club, it is early in the season and there was only one boat tied at the Seattle station. We suspect it is perhaps a caretaker?

There were several local boats at various docks and mooring buoys, and several came and went daily.

Though our destination of Grace Harbor was 'just around the corner', it took us just short of two hours to motor here.

Though we pass several large houses on the point, deep in Grace Harbor we are the only boat, and we finally have a taste of solitude.

Al is distraught. The shores below the tide line are FILLED with oysters, but there is a sign warning of the danger of consuming them. The majority of the area is closed due to the toxins from red tide, with VERY dangerous consequences if you don't pay attention.

The view entering the harbor. We will anchor at the back.

The view at the back of the boat.

'AAaaaahhhhh' we say, 'Quiet'. But for the waterfall gurgling, the single frog singing, the geese honking, the bumblebee that buzzes through the cabin, the raindrops falling, and the seals' breaths as they float lazily across the way.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

It's All New to Me!

It was a GORGEOUS day on the Strait of Georgia yesterday as we left DeCourcy Island, went through Dodds Narrows, past Nanaimo, and along the inactive Whiskey Golf military exercise area.

West of the Ballenas Islands I shouted 'Whoa! I think I saw an orca!' And I had! Actually there was a male and at least 3-5 females or small ones. They were generally heading northwest, as we were, so we had about half an hour to watch through our binoculars.

Here is the best I could do photographically:

There is a small fishing boat on the left, and the black 'cone' you see is the dorsal fin of the male.

We had the motor running about 7.5 hours yesterday, and covered about 45 miles. Once we passed Lasqueti Island, we were in all new waters for us. With very light winds, we were comfortable dropping anchor in Tribune Bay on Hornby Island:

This morning we got up, had coffee, showers and breakfast - in that order - then got underway again. The wind was blowing a pretty consistent 10-15 which is not bad for anywhere, but especially the Georgia Strait. Still, the 2-3 foot chop was NOT the glossy water of the day before. However, the wave direction was comfortable to ride and seven hours later we arrived at our destination. Cortes Bay is our first stop in Desolation Sound!

Facing east, Hernando Island is on the right, and the Twin Islands are on the left. Snow-capped Cascades in the distance.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Beautiful Water

We left Saturna Island and made an almost straight path all the way to DeCourcy Island. There wasn't much wind, which makes for MY favorite kind of water -- glassy. But there were lots of sails up anyway! This group enters Trincomali Channel from Salt Spring Island.

Pirate's Cove! It's been a while since we've been here, so we hit a dead end on our way to the pirate's chest. This view looks like they should call it the 'Emerald Isle'.

Back to our cove on Ruxton Passage. Viking Star is the distant boat.

Snow on the mountains on Vancouver Island!

Lots of treasures in the chest! Here is my favorite, but I think I will leave her for the next girl.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Coffee is a Priority!

If you know us at all, you know we love coffee! Here are some photos to illustrate:

Those two bins on the left are fresh-ground, Regular and Decaf. The shelf above the stove is dedicated to coffee -- our Aeropress brewer and a dozen coffee ups, ALL 'favorites'!

The top shelf in the cupboard is also dedicated to coffee. A bag of fresh beans, a can of coffee recommended to us as a flavor booster, a french press, a moka pot, espresso cups and plates.....OH and insulated cups at the back. Notice MORE coffee mugs on the bottom shelf.

Now perhaps you can more easily understand why we went 'off the beaten path' to visit Wild Thyme on Saturna Island in the Canadian Gulf Islands. We lovingly simply call it 'The Bus'. A wonderful double-decker bus modified to a coffee shop, serving excellent coffee and food, as much as possible, grown on the island. YUMMY!


We finally got Viking Star to Victoria! We have been here on two sailboat charters previously, and promised to bring Viking Star here 'someday'. Thank you to Brian and Jean who invited us to share their time-share condo with us for the week.

I had been nervous about getting there -- the last time we crossed Haro Strait it WAS a harrowing experience, for me, anyway. The waves got big (but not as big as we thought they should for a 50 mph gale) and I had stitches from a carpal tunnel surgery, so I could not hold on. I rode it out below on the bunk with my feet on the wall.

THIS TIME, we watched the weather carefully and had a back-up plan of the Friday Harbor to Sidney ferry. But I don't think we could have asked for a better crossing! Smooth water and the tide was with us -- we reached 10.7 knots! (We normally cruise about 6)

At the entrance to Inner Harbor
 The first night we settled in with Jean and Brian, and grilled steaks and watched 'The Force Awakens'.  The next day we visited the Parliament building before Tea at the Empress.

From the first floor, to the landing on the second floor.  

The crest of British Columbia

There was so much beautiful stained glass -- too many pictures to post -- and also this mosaic.

The  members of Parliament were due to seat shortly.

The dome, from the second floor landing. There is a staircase 'in glass' to access the inside of the dome.

The ceremonial entrance, used for visiting Heads of State. Queen Elizabeth II came through here. 

Okay, ONE stained glass photo. This one commemorates Queen Elizabeth II's 60th year of reign, her Diamond Jubilee.

We had a wonderful tour guide. She lead a large group of us, she said the largest she's had so far. We lingered after the rest left and she shared a few more 'hidden' items, including the Queen's corgis in this painting.

Nearby outside, Brian took our photo in front of the crest of Canada.

A marmot on the front lawn of the Empress Hotel.

We strolled the waterfront, and I flirted with an old sailor. 

Wednesday was 'More Friends Day' as I had a hair appointment with Jord'n, and was surprised by Deneen bringing her mother for the appointment after me, along with Ilyssa and Irma.

Thursday we visited Craigdarroch Castle. It looks like it was built on a bare hilltop! There were lots of trees and other houses around it now.

A knitting basket!

A view from one of the tower windows -- downtown Victoria?

As always, the time to leave comes too soon. Here, we round the Trial Islands south of Victoria -- they feature in many a weather report. This day -- an excellent trip!