Monthly Archives: August 2018

Sailing the Windy Gulf Islands

“Windy” isn’t a term usually used to describe the Gulf Islands, but windy is exactly what we’ve had for the last week (July 29 to August 4). Every day we had consistent southeast winds in the 10 to 20 knot range. Although we’re southbound, which means upwind, we’ve been having great sails doing short hops between anchorages each day.

IMG_6201

One of the other great things about the Gulfs, which I hadn’t really noticed before, is there are a lot of sailboats – more sailboats than powerboats even! Many spots had about 60-70% sailboats, which is in steep contrast to our cruising experience in waters further north (north of Cape Caution), where motorboats were about 90% of the cruising traffic. I think the Gulfs probably have the highest density of sailboats anywhere in the Pacific Northwest.

Also, the sailors there actually sail! About 90% of sailboats have at least unfurled their genoa when running downwind in 15 knots (about 10% still motor downwind in 15, which I totally don’t understand), and about 50% sail upwind.

It’s been great to see how many Gulf Islands sailors make the effort to sail, and has made our sails more interesting – we get to plan crossings with other sailboats (stand-on versus give-way), and track our progress and tacking angles in comparison to them.

IMG_6227

Continue reading

Advertisements

Month 4 Cruising Summary: Johnstone Strait to the Gulf Islands

In July, month four of our cruising plan, we started slowing down (intentionally) and enjoying hot weather and easy sailing. After the challenges of June, easy sailing in Johnstone, Desolation Sound and the Strait of Georgia was a welcome change.

Also it got hot – really hot, in some cases – 90F in Desolation Sound. We weren’t used to this heat, and it was great while sailing (like sailing in the tropics!) but tough the rest of the time (sailboats heat up like an oven, and good ventilation doesn’t really do much when there’s no wind).

In July we went from Port McNeil to the Gulf Islands (Tent Island, at the top of Saltspring). We only did 20 days of sailing (we had a 5 day break to attend a wedding, and 5-6 days where we stayed in the same anchorage), and took a fairly meandering route (see map below).

Blue line indicates approximate rhumb line, not actual sailed line.

We had a fast downwind sail through Johnstone Strait, and then took a loop around East Thurlo Island. We reprovisioned in Campbell River and then sailed to Desolation Sound, spending 5 days in Pendrell Sound enjoying the sun, swimming, inner-tubing, paddleboarding and hiking.

Next we sailed to Cortes Bay and then headed south in the Strait of Georgia, having very light NW winds (2-6 kts). At Tribune Bay, the wind pattern picked up to NW 15-20 but only at night – from about 8pm – 8am. Very strange, and inconvenient since it meant windy nights at anchor and windless days with very slow sailing. We spent 2 nights at Jedediah Island and some forest fire smoke moved in, making for bright red sunsets but lower visibility.

Next we headed to Nanaimo and spent 2 nights at anchor catching up on chores, reprovisioning, and hiking around Newcastle Island. Nanaimo was busy! About 100 boats in the anchorage and frequent ferries and dinghies racing about, making for choppy conditions until dusk.

The wind pattern switched to moderately strong southeasterlies as we headed south to the Gulf Islands through Dodd Narrows. The Gulfs were unlike I’ve ever seen them – SE 15-20 and pretty choppy waves (wind against current), enough to send saltwater back to our dodger. Previously we’ve only had NW wind in the Gulfs in the summer, and 20 knots was a surprise – usually it’s light wind days (5-10) with the spinnaker up.

Stats

    • Distance as the motorboat travels: 286 nm
    • Distance traveled overall (estimated): 350 nm
      40% upwind, 60% downwind
    • Top wind speed while sailing:
      Downwind: 30 knots NW, Johnstone Strait
      Upwind: 20 knots SE, Gulf Islands
    • Highest wind speed at anchor: 15-17 knots (SE) at Montague Harbor, north of the beach; and 15 knots NW at Tribune Bay, Hornsby Island (a motorboat dragged here in the night, to port of us).
    • Days in motion: 20
    • Engine hours: 20 (~1 hour/day)
    • Diesel consumed: ~8 gallons
      (about 1/2 our engine hours are at near idle RPM, while anchoring, so that’s why our engine only consumed less than 1/2 gallon/hr – when we’re sailing a lot, our engine hours become more predominated by idle speeds due to harbor entry/exit/anchoring)
    • # Stays in a Marina: 1 (Campbell River)
    • # of Gale Warnings: 0 (Yay! That’s 10 fewer than June)

Continue reading

Pendrell Sound for 5 Days

Pendrell Sound is one of those places I almost don’t want to write about – I’m afraid raving about how much we love it will make more people go and it will become crowded. But I know realistically this is nothing to worry about – because everybody already knows about it, and there’s plenty of room here. And honestly we wouldn’t mind having more sailboats (we could do without the party motorboats and jet skis though – which are fortunately few).

Two years ago we came to Pendrell Sound and declared it our favorite anchorage. This year we already declared Pruth Bay our favorite anchorage, but we’re going to have to say Pendrell is also our favorite. Cruisers are allowed to have multiple #1 favorite places… right?

IMG_6111

Pendrell Sound is a 6 mile long sound (that looks more like an inlet) in Desolation Sound, known for having the warmest water in the Pacific Northwest (75F currently). It’s a special place for us because every time we come it has a perfect combination of conditions – hot, sunny, warm water, and beautiful views of mountains (some with snow still on them in late July!). We swim in the 75 F degree water, paddleboard around the anchorage and lagoon, lounge in our inflatable river tube, do boat yoga, catch up on boat projects, and basically take relaxation to 110%. Pendrell Sound is where you go to take a vacation from your vacation.

IMG_6100

Last time when we were here we stayed for 3 days, and spoke to someone who said he comes for a week every summer. We thought that was genius, and this time stayed for 5 days. We’ve heard some people stay until their holding tanks fill up (Pendrell Sound has lots of oyster farms, so you really don’t want to flush sewage into it). Many boats we saw though stay for only one night.

[This post covers July 19-24, 2018.]

Continue reading