June 29 – Refuge Cove to Nanaimo

leaving desolation sound

We left Desolation Sound behind under the clouds and headed south on a very calm Georgia Strait. You can still see the raindrops on our cabin sides, left over from last night’s persistent rain.

This morning’s marine weather forecast for Georgia Strait was “wind light.” That’s all. There was no mention of wind direction or velocity. We can’t remember ever hearing such a short forecast. It was cloudy with fog in places and Phoenix was still soaked from last night’s rain. But it was calm in Refuge Cove and the rain had stopped, so we decided it was time to head south.

We left Refuge Cove at 0600, with Comox as our destination. Decided we’d try to outfox another potential rough crossing of Georgia Strait by entering it at the north end and going down the east coast of Vancouver Island. Crossing our fingers, we hoped our strategy would be a good one.

hernando island

We passed this point on Hernando Island as we left Desolation Sound behind.

We noticed most of the inlets and anchorages in the southern part of Desolation Sound were filled with fog, but it was clear on the water ahead. And was it calm! We’ve never seen Georgia Strait so calm. Of course, it’s a long passage and things can change.

southbound in georgia strait

It was calm as we entered Georgia Strait to head south. The east coastline of Vancouver Island is in the background.

cruise ship

As we turned south on Georgia Strait, we watched the northbound Oceania cruise ship “Regatta” cruising slowly toward Seymour Narrows. The slack current in Seymour was almost 3 hours away, so we think the ship was going slow so it didn’t reach the rapids too soon.

glassy georgia strait

We’ve never seen Georgia Strait glassy calm like this. The clouds made an awesome reflection on the water. Mainland B. C. is in the background.

canadian coast guard ship

Just before we reached the turn into Comox, we passed this Canadian Coast Guard ship cruising northbound in Georgia Strait. Vancouver Island is in the background.

We passed the Oceania cruise ship Regatta and a Canadian Coast Guard Cutter as we continued on our way south in Georgia Strait. The conditions remained glassy calm all the way to Comox, and it still looked calm ahead when we reached the point where we would turn in to go to Comox. However, it was only 1000 at that point and we decided to bypass Comox and continue on. Since it was so early in the day, we thought we might make it all the way to Nanaimo, hoping we weren’t tempting the weather gods. We believe in the sentiment of many cruisers, “when crossing big waters, if it’s a good travel day, it’s best to keep going,” because you never know what tomorrow may bring. It’s kind of like shopping at Costco: when you see something you want, you’d better get it because it may never be there again.

passing comox

It was still glassy calm as we approached the turn to go into Comox. It was so calm and so early in the day (1000) that we decided to continue to and not to stop in Comox.

So on we went. We saw fog ahead as we approached Hornby Island to enter Lambert Channel, and we hoped it would lift before we got there. Yes! It did. We think the reason we saw so much fog today was due to so much recent rain that was still on the island surfaces, and being burned off by the warmer weather. That also made it very humid.

As we passed the Chrome Island lighthouse, we began to see southeast wind coming at us. Oh, no! Did we tempt fate by trying to go on? But the wind was less than 10 knots and actually died after a couple of hours. We also started to see more blue sky, as the clouds thinned. And it was getting hot. We opened all the ports and doors, since traveling south means heading into the sun, and as the sun streamed in through our windshield, our boat really heated up. It was time to change from jeans to shorts.

approaching nanaimo

Georgia Strait was still comfortable as we approached Nanaimo, with a light breeze. The shoreline around Nanaimo is in the distance on the right. The day got progressively sunnier as we made our way south, and the temperatures started to rise. It was about 90 degrees when we docked in Nanaimo.

sailboat georgia strait

As we got closer to Nanaimo, a light wind appeared on the water. This sailboat was enjoying a nice sail. The mountains of mainland B. C. are in the background, and the land behind the sailboat is the shoreline near Secret Cove.

It was Saturday and as we got closer to Nanaimo we started to see lots more pleasure boats. The strait was still calm, but we rolled a bit from boat wakes, especially as we turned to enter Departure Bay.

But no worries! We were in Nanaimo, and Georgia Strait was behind us for this trip. It had been a long day. The trip was 85 miles and it took us 11 hours. Needless to say, we were bushed as we approached the Port of Nanaimo, hoping there would be space for us at the dock. Monday, July 1, is Canada Day. Arriving at 1700 on the Saturday of a 3-day weekend can result in the docks already being full. But we were lucky. They did have a space for us!

We tied up at the dock after a very long travel day. Got the boat checked in, the power connected, and then Jim headed to the liquor store. He wanted to get some of the B. C. wine we had at Dent Island (we liked it) and some more Canadian beer. There was just time for him to get to the store before it closed for the holiday weekend.

We had a simple dinner of barbecued hot dogs and corn on the cob. We’re all very tired. The kitties had a long day of listening to the engine too. It feels so good to be stopped.

tired kitties

As soon as we were tied up in Nanaimo, the kitties crashed on the floor of the main cabin. Our 11-hour cruise day was tiring for all of us.

It was almost 90 degrees by the time we reached Nanaimo. It’s hard to believe that our weather changed so quickly from dreary to sunny and hot, especially since the weather was cloudy and when we left Desolation Sound this morning.

It was a long day.

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