Nanaimo to Montague Harbour

July 5 – Montague Harbour

Nanaimo to Montague Harbour, 27.82 nautical miles
Total this trip to date: 573.13 NM
Wow, another sunny and warm day! After the rainy, cool, cloudy days we had up north, it’s a quick adjustment to the boat being too warm. Nanaimo was a good stop for getting water, dumping garbage, and a bit of shopping…but it is a noisy harbor. Between the trucks on the street, the seaplanes taking off, the hundreds of people who enjoy spending time there, and a very noisy 13-year-old boy on the boat across the dock from us, it was quite a change from the quiet anchorages we’ve had for the past 4-5 weeks. Mickey was ducking for cover every 10 minutes!

We had to wait until noon to leave for the 1330 slack at Dodd Narrows, so we had a leisurely morning. There was a bit of a delay going through the narrows, as we had to wait for a tug to pull a log boom through ahead of us. There were lots of boats waiting to go through the narrows from south to north, but not as many going our way.
No big bumps in the water today. There was a bit of westerly breeze along our way — sometimes northwesterly and sometimes southwesterly. But it was rather light, 5-15. We put our anchor down in Montague Harbour at 1615, and enjoyed the quiet and calm. The bread boat is not here this year. We didn’t see it on our way up and thought it might be too early in the season. But the season is in full swing now, so we’re wondering if they are operating it any more…or if they’ve moved somewhere else.
Looking back at Nanaimo Harbor as we left
After we transited Dodd Narrows, we looked back
to see a parade of boats heading north
The log boom that slowed our progress is on the right
We had a calm ride in Trincomali Channel
on our way to Montague
July 6 – Ganges and back to Montague
Montague to Ganges to Montague, 13.72 nautical miles
Total this trip to date: 586.85 NM

It was gloriously sunny and calm this morning in Montague! But strong winds are forecast for later this afternoon and for tomorrow. We decided to go over to Ganges this morning to do a little shopping and look around. We haven’t been to Ganges for four years. It’s about 7 miles from Montague to Ganges, which is located on Saltspring Island.

Anchoring in Ganges is horrible. It’s always crowded with boats and has poor holding. In addition, Ganges is at the head of a long channel and the prevailing winds blow up the channel, so it’s typically windy there too. And some boat ALWAYS drags. So, we usually anchor only long enough to take the dinghy to town to shop and then go somewhere else to anchor for the night.
Ganges is a great little town. It has tons of character, and is a main commercial center for Saltspring Island. There is a great Thrifty Foods grocery, many small shops, and Mouat’s, which is a family operated store that has been in Ganges for over a hundred years. They have a hardware/department store that has EVERYTHING, and also a clothing store that specializes in tourist and high-end clothing. Ganges also has a fantastic Saturday market. Too bad today was Wednesday.
Today when we left the dinghy dock and walked into town, we heard alarms all around us. Then, when we walked into the Mouat’s Hardware store, all the lights went out! We soon learned that a transformer near town had blown, and all, or almost all, of downtown Ganges was without power! Certainly put a dent in our shopping plans. Stores with windows were open, with limited means of taking money. Some isles in stores that were dark were off limits to customers. Some businesses were completely closed…the post office and liquor store were both closed. When we entered the Thrifty Foods, it was business as usual, and the checker didn’t even know there was a power outage. The fish store was also spared. We were in town for about 2 hours, and the power was still out when we left.
When we left Ganges, the SW wind was blowing 15-20, so our best refuge for the night was to return to Montague Harbour. Even though the wind was blowing hard, it was still sunny. Tomorrow’s forecast includes a chance of rain, but we can enjoy the sun today.
When we were motoring in the channel on our way to Ganges, we saw Atrevida (the bread boat) leaving, and we found it anchored in Montague Harbour when we got back. It’s too windy to explore this afternoon, but in the morning we plan to take the dinghy over and see if they are still baking bread and pies. Hope so!
A power company cherry picker set up in downtown Ganges
trying to fix the power outage
The center of town in Ganges
Another great sunset in Montague Harbour
Montague Harbour in the early morning calm
July 7 – Montague Harbour
We stayed another night in Montague. The morning weather forecast called for SW winds in Haro Strait of 15-20 this morning and 20-30 this afternoon, so we decided it would be better to stay at anchor than to pound into the wind.
Staying today gave us a chance to take the dinghy over to the bread boat…we got a couple loaves of bread (whole wheat and white) and a berry pie, still warm from the oven. Yum. The bread boat is interesting. It used to be the ferry on the Gabriola to Nanaimo route from 1921 to 1953, and later it served the route from Powell River to Texada Island until 1969. It held 5 cars. The owners have had the boat for 13 years. They added a cabin where the car deck used to be, and told us of memories of their children playing in that area. They live aboard the boat and modified it a few years ago to add the bakery. They take the boat to Montague, Ganges, and other Gulf Islands anchorages in the summer months. They keep the boat in Maple Bay in the winter.
It turned cloudy this morning and we could see rain in the distance, but none came here. The afternoon was actually sunny. We took the dinghy over to the Montague Harbour Provincial Park dock and walked part of the wonderful trail in the park. In mid-afternoon, there were almost 10 mooring buoys vacant. Unusual for a July day here.
Atrevida, aka the bread boat
There even were a few empty mooring buoys at the marine
park this afternoon when we looked out from the beach