Once we were just outside the breakwater of Ganges Marina, we called them on VHF channel 66 to see if they had moorage available for us. They answered promptly, but put us “on hold” as there were several boats calling at the same time. Turned out that a local yacht club was having their annual get-together this weekend on the docks of Ganges Marina and many of their boats were arriving at the same time as we were. So much for the idea that the crowds “would be down.”
After a short wait, the marina manager called us back and assigned us to a slip on one of their 40-foot finger piers. Once we got to the slip, we discovered that they had put us RIGHT NEXT TO the area where the yacht club had set up their dockside party! We immediately noticed a lot of activity on the dock next to our boat, from mingling (and noisy) people as well as balloons and flags that were flapping in the wind.
It didn’t take long for us to realize that we needed to be somewhere else. We contacted the marina manager to see if we could move, and were told there weren’t any more 40-foot slips available, but that we could side tie to the main pier, close to the office and where everyone in the marina walks by to reach the town. Not a great second choice, but we decided that would be better than being right next to a noisy party that was complete with night-time flickering Christmas lights strung up a sailboat’s rigging. So, we moved.
Once we were tied up in our new location, Jim went to pay for our night’s moorage. Phoenix is a 36-foot boat, and with our swim step, we are 40 feet overall. The marina manager had written down that we were a 45-foot boat, and wanted us to pay for 45 feet! They wouldn’t budge until they came to physically measure our boat…twice! Then they agreed that our boat was 40 feet overall. First time in over 30 years of cruising that we have ever been challenged about the overall length of our boat! Made us wonder how they could think we were bigger, since we had already been tied up in one of their 40-foot slips…
Turned out that the main pier WAS rather noisy all afternoon and early evening with people going back and forth between their boats and the marina office, showers, town, etc. In addition to the noise from people talking as they walked by, the main pier dock was made of wood planks that squeaked when the planks rubbed together as people walked along the dock. But we decided to stay anyway. It was a great location for getting to town. The shops and restaurants…and tomorrow’s Saturday Market…are only a short walk away.
In the afternoon, we walked to town for ice cream cones at Glad’s Ice Cream shop and wandered around the shops. Ganges is always a busy place as it is the central shopping area for all of Salt Spring Island, and it’s always interesting to walk around the town. We like to visit the Mouat’s Trading Company stores. Mouat’s is a legend in Ganges. It originally opened in 1907 and has served Salt Spring Island ever since. We wandered through their housewares and hardware stores, which have one of the largest selections of basic and unique items we’ve ever seen…seemingly everything you could possibly want for your house and/or boat…and we also checked out the clothes in their clothing store.
We also stopped at Thrifty Foods. It’s a great place to provision, with a nice selection of fresh produce as well as organic and bulk products. Since we’re out only for a week on this trip, we didn’t need anything, but did a quick walk-through the store and still feel that it’s a great place to provision. There are several great choices of restaurants in Ganges, but we already had a lot of food on board, and decided not to eat out this time.
One weird thing happened. As we closed up the boat for the night, we noticed what appeared to be almost a hundred small dead flies all over the side decks. They reminded us of the black flies we had seen on our decks in Alaska, but these were much smaller. We hadn’t noticed an unusual amount of flying insects while we were out and about, but there sure were a lot of dead flies on the decks! Fortunately, we have screens on all our windows and doors, so didn’t end up with flies inside the boat.
So, on balance, did we like Ganges Marina better this time? Not so much, and we’ll probably skip it the next time. It still seems too busy for our tastes, and the prevailing winds and layout of the marina still present challenges in getting in and out of the finger piers. Actually, we prefer anchoring…so for future trips, we’ll probably continue to do what we’ve been doing in recent years — anchor for a few hours in Ganges Harbour, take the dinghy to town for shopping, then return to our boat and head over to Montague Harbour for the night…where the anchoring is secure and there’s always room!