This year’s 1-month cruise took us from Seattle all the way to Nootka Sound, more than half way up Vancouver Island’s west coast.
Starting from Seattle, we had an upwind slog getting out the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca to Victoria, followed by a relaxing five days exploring Barkley Sound’s quiet anchorages. We next went up to Clayoquot Sound (after one false start due to awful wave conditions). We didn’t stay long in Clayoquot, heading up to Nootka Sound to see how far we could get. We had fun exploring Friendly Cove, but someday will have to come back when we have more time to explore Nootka.
It was time to turn around back south, so we headed to Tofino and picked up an unwelcome stowaway for one night. We stopped in Barkley Sound again, regretting we didn’t have more time to stay in this most epic of sounds, and headed back down the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Fortunately we had some time to relax in Victoria, checking out some anchorages we normally wouldn’t have time for. Passing through the San Juans they were as beautiful as always, but sadly it was soon time to return to Seattle.
A month sounds like a lot of time, but it’s really not, at least not when you’re trying to cover ground by sail. About 3 weeks in we realized we had packed the schedule a bit too tight, and probably shouldn’t have stretched to go to Nootka Sound. While it was cool to reach our farthest point north on the west coast ever, we had many long and tiring days and not quite enough short days or lay days.
It’s important to have balance in a cruising schedule. I often think of it like a video game – if you always have the difficulty setting on “hard”, you’ll get burnt out. Most days going up the west coast are medium or hard difficulty, so we needed a few more easy days in the mix. Fortunately the last week, in the Victoria area and San Juans, provided some nice easy days.
View of our route with the return leg plotted as well.
- Nights at anchor: 27
- Nights in a marina: 3
- # times stern tied: 0
- Distance Traveled, as the motor boat travels: 600 nautical miles
- Distance Traveled, as sailed (approximated): 800-900 nautical miles
- % time spent sailing (approx): 75%
- % distance spent sailing (approx): 50%
Sailing home is always bittersweet – it’s the end of a journey, a return to work, and the end of amazing days figuring out how to harness the wind to take us to beautiful anchorages. On the other hand, it’s a return to a bit more normalcy, routine, and the creature comforts of land life. Returning from a long cruise always stuns me with how comfortable modern life is, how few true problems we have in an average day, and how fortunate we are that that’s the case. It’s no wonder that some sailors never manage to leave the dock.
After Victoria, since we had less than a week left to our month long cruise, it was time to start heading back to Seattle.
[This post took place from July 26-30.]
Always amazing sunsets at Sidney Spit
Sidney Spit had lots of birdlife in the morning. We saw at least a dozen blue herons and this group of seagulls was just a splinter group of a couple hundred seagulls.
We had a couple extra days in our schedule in the Victoria area, so we spent two nights at Becher Bay (around the corner from Race Rocks), doing some fishing both mornings. The point off Becher Bay is a fishing hotspot, and there were 40 small fishing boats out there with us. Since we were in our dinghy, we were the smallest boat out there, and got some curious looks. We didn’t catch anything (trolling along the 120 to 200 ft lines with a flasher, weight and green/white spoon as the current switched to flood) in the course of an hour and a half, but we only saw one other boat catch something (what looked like a small rockfish).
I’ve been having a difficult time having the patience required for fishing. It seems it involves hours and hours of sitting around not catching anything. As they say, fishing is called fishing, not catching. But why do so many people do it when they’re not getting any fish? I guess they may think the same thing about sailing – why sit there for hours going so slow instead of using a motorboat that can go 15 kts instead?
[This post took place from July 22 – 25]
Race Passage – Riding the Lazy River to Esquimalt
We left Becher Bay near the start of the flood and caught a 4-5 knot push through Race Passage. We were sailing, because there had been some inflow breeze in Becher Bay, but the wind completely disappeared outside the bay. But since we were going 4-5 kts on current, we figured we’d just keep going like that, with just the main up. It was fun going through lots of tide rips and lines of squaking sea birds competing for position in the swirling waters.
The cool thing about riding current is it looks like you’re not moving (the boat isn’t moving relative to the water, so there are no ripples, no sound and no apparent wind) but looking to shore you can see the land behind rapidly slipping by (called “making trees” in sailor lingo). After Race Passage we had 7-8 kts wind behind us, so we sailed slowly up to the Esquimalt Harbor entrance. Even though it’s only July 22, we seem to be well into August weather now – there was little wind today and the Strait was socked in fog.
Sea birds competing to feed in the swirling waters