Wednesday, January 1, 2014

January 1, 2014 - Gulf Islands, Canada (Part 2)

First of all ---  HAPPY NEW YEAR !

We just completed a wonderful trip through the Gulf Islands of Canada.   This is a fantastic place to cruise, yet we have never visited these islands during the off season.  My biggest observation from 11 days wandering through the Gulf Islands is that they are even less visited during the winter months than the US San Juan Islands.  We saw virtually no boats the entire trip.  By comparison, once we got back into US waters the VHF radio traffic began to increase, and we heard many familiar voices on the radio.  It seems that La Conner (and Shelter Bay in particular) have a disproportionately large number of boater's that use their boats during cold winter weather.  We heard quite a few La Conner friends on the radio today as we motored back though our "home waters" headed for home.  This was quite a contrast to Canada where we heard virtually NO radio traffic, and we saw only a handful of boats on the water in 11 days.  My suggestion?  Go explore the Gulf Islands during the winter when there is NOBODY around!!!

Our kids were somewhat concerned that Santa was not going to be able to find us as we meandered through the Gulf Islands.  We reassured them the he would indeed find us.  But to make sure I left the anchor light on for him on Christmas Eve, where we were anchored alone in Annette Inlet.  And guess what, that bright white light must have led Rudolf directly to our boat, because Santa did make a stop on "Adagio".  I'm amazed that we didn't hear him land!  :-)

I think that Kevin was VERY concerned though, as he got up at 3:00AM to check the tree.  Fortunately, Santa had already been there.  He examined the presents under the tree and even peeked at his stocking, then he immediately woke Cindy up.  They unloaded their stockings and finally after waiting more than two hours, woke Kathy and I up at 5:30, even though we were not ready to get up so early.  Ah Christmas.  How wonderfully exciting !

Presents galore on the new settee lounger.  Christmas Day 2013.

Cindy and Kevin ready to play a new Skylanders game on the Wii.
We spent a few days at the Saltspring Island Marina in Ganges, starting Christmas afternoon.  We went there specifically for the WiFi access.  Kathy had to work Thursday and Friday, and having high-speed WiFi, along with a cellphone, provides her a home office that is technically no different than being at home.  She put in two full days while the kids and I did other stuff....

The kids play Skylanders on the Wii.
Santa brought them a pair of hockey sticks.  A local walking by asked me if I
was getting them warmed up for the big "Boxing Day" hockey game.  I didn't
have the heart to tell him we were Americans and didn't know there was a HUGE
game today.  I just told him "yep, whatever it takes, .... eh?"      :-)
We left Saltspring Marina on Saturday morning.  We were going to leave Friday afternoon, but the wind forecast was for 30 knots overnight.  Not knowing exactly how good the anchorage was at our next destination, we decided to stay put for the night.  Saturday morning we left at sunrise and proceeded to Portland Island.

A float plane landing in front of us as we motor out of Ganges Harbor at sunrise.

Playing one of the many games we received for Christmas.

Kevin eyeing a few Canadian Geese.  Adagio anchored with 3 other boats.
Portland Island Provincial Marine Park.
We ventured to shore a few times while we were here.  The forecast called for light winds (meaning no winds at all, basically) for the next few days.  We awoke to a steady 10 knot breeze, which soon increased to 15 knots.  We decided to leave when it reached a constant 17 knots and motored over to our next destination; Winter Cove.  On our way we saw true wind speeds of 25-27 knots.  That's small craft advisory territory.  And we were seeing this on a day with forecast light winds?  The weather is SO hard to predict around here.

Anchored in Winter Cove, Saturna Island, B.C.

The intense current at Boat Passage, Winter Cove British Columbia.
We decided to leave Winter Cove in the morning, after a nice walk around the fantastic trails at the park the afternoon before.  The winds are light and forecast to remain that way.  One of our favorite places in the Gulf Islands is Tumbo Island / Cabbage Island.  It's always busy in the summer.  Could we have it to ourselves in winter?  We were beginning to think so, based on the lack of other boaters out here.  We motored through the sometimes tricky "Georgeson Passage" but it was a piece of cake at slack current.  Time it for the slack at Active Pass and you will have no problems.  As we approached Tumbo we could see one boat in the anchorage.  Bummer.  Oh wait, that boat seems to be moving, slowly.  He departed about 10 minutes before our arrival.  It was a sailboat, and perhaps he wanted to get out of there before a big "stink pot" like ours arrived?  Doubtful, but you never know....  So, we did indeed end up with the anchorage all to ourselves.  For two entire days!!!  We spent New Year's Eve here.  How perfect.

Anchored alone at Tumbo Island.  This is one of our favorite places.

Cindy crosses the bridge that we made.  She made it.  Kevin made it too.
It sunk under Steve's weight and he ended up with some soggy boots!

Making a beach fire on Tumbo Island.

If you make a nice beach fire, you better take advantage of it.  BBQ hot-dogs.
Yummy!  Ah, this is a nice life.....

Cindy takes the oars on our way back to the boat.

We have another nice beach fire the next day (New Year's Eve day).  This fire
produces some excellent S'mores.  Nice!
We pulled the anchor New Years morning and headed home.  We had breakfast while underway.  We've had really decent weather for this trip:  We postponed our departure because it snowed and was very windy.  We had a few sprinkles on a couple of days.  We had one afternoon of strong wind while in a marina.  Other than that it was flat calm, often with broken clouds and sunshine.  I guess it was too good to be true?

Here comes the wall of fog.  Two more miles and we will be in it.
That tall landmass is Mt. Constitution on Orcas Island.  Matia Island in
the foreground.

Interesting foggy navigation.  It wasn't very thick most of the time.  We had
about 1 mile visibility most of the time, which is easy to deal with.  The fog is very
disorienting when all land disappears.  Without GPS and radar  it would be very easy to get lost!

So, we are now home.  It was a great trip.  It was the first Christmas we have spent on the boat.  We have spent many New Years Eve's out on the water, and one Thanksgiving, but never Christmas.

Oh, the boat ran flawlessly.  We spent about 24 hours under power motoring through the islands.  During our 11 days out we consumed about 160 gallons of water.  That's about 14.5 gallons per day, or 3.6 gallons per person per day.  With our total capacity of 450 gallons of water, we carry enough water to last the 4 of us more than 1 month!  Amazing, considering the 3.6 gallons per day per person includes all of the water used for drinking, flushing toilets, washing dishes, washing hands and faces, shampooing, etc.  Compare that to the US average water consumption of roughly 100 gallons per person, per DAY.  We use less water per person per day than some home toilets use in a single flush!  Our diesel furnace worked hard to keep us nice and toasty.  Some nights were in the low 30's, so it was a chilly trip.

Reflecting back on this trip I think one of the best moments came yesterday when I asked the kids if they wanted to stay out another two weeks.  The answer was a RESOUNDING "YES!".  We are so happy that our children appreciate all that boating has to offer   It warms my heart to know that they appreciate their time with Kathy and I, with each other, and that they also appreciate the beauty of nature.  This is what it is all about.


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