July 4 – Ganges to Port Browning

Port Browning Marina

Phoenix was tied up at the far end of Port Browning Marina. Our boat is the furthest boat to the right and you can see our bow pointing out, as we had to back into the slip.

It was sunny and calm at Salt Spring Marina this morning. There was a bit of wind in the forecast, but it didn’t sound like it would be coming up until later in the afternoon. It’s a good day to leave. We picked Port Browning Marina as our next destination. Jim called them yesterday and got a reservation for a slip for tonight, with the option of cancelling if the weather wasn’t good for travel. We packed up the boat and headed for Port Browning.

captain passage

Captain Passage looking south is picturesque and today we found southerly wind there.

The calm conditions continued as we made our way out of Ganges Harbour, but we picked up some southerly wind as we entered Captain Passage. We decided to reach Plumper Sound by going through Swanson Channel. Seems like we always encounter B. C. ferries in Swanson Channel, and today was no exception. As we rounded the southerly shoreline of Prevost Island, we had to stop and wait for one of the ferries to pass us on its way to Vancouver via Active Pass.

Trincomali Channel

We headed south from Trincomali Channel into Navy Channel. This view in Trincomali Channel is looking north.

Plumper Sound

Heading south in Navy Channel we had the wind behind us. Navy Channel turns into Plumper Sound. It was a sparkling clear morning!

Once we turned south into Navy Channel and continued on to Plumper Sound, the wind turned behind us and we had an easy trip. Port Browning Marina is located at the head of the bay. As soon as we got close to the marina, we called them on the VHF to get a slip assignment.

pender canal low tide

On the way to Port Browning Marina we passed the Pender Canal at low tide. This passage leads to Bedwell Harbour and can be transited at a higher tide, but not by boats with a tall mast.
Boats have to go under a bridge with 27 feet vertical clearance.

Port Browning approach

We could see Port Browning Marina ahead, at the head of the bay.

They told us to come to slip #2 on the port side of the marina. We didn’t have a clue as to which side of the marina was the “port” side. We didn’t know if it was relative to our approach or to the marina office. It was confusing until we got behind the floating breakwater and approached the main dock. Then we could see that it was parallel to our course and there were slips on either side of it. There were numbered slips on the side of the dock closer to the shore, and letters on the slips on the other side of the dock. So we deduced that the “port” side of the marina was the side closer to the shore and relative to our approach. I guess that was our challenge for the day, and fortunately we were successful in finding slip #2!

Our boat is easier to handle when mooring if we have a starboard side tie. So we asked for a starboard tie. They said they could do that, but asked if we would be okay with backing into the slip. That turned into a bit of a challenge, as the wind had freshened behind us and was brisk on our port side as we maneuvered into the slip. But, no worries, we got in just fine.

Port Browing Marina and shoreline

This view of Port Browning Marina was taken from the ramp to the marina office. It shows the docks at the left and the shoreline to the right. The floating breakwater (floating steel pipes) is visible just beyond the marina. Phoenix is tied up closest to the breakwater, with the bow headed toward the shoreline.

It had been a short trip…we wanted to have an early travel day to avoid the wind that was predicted for later in the day, and we left Ganges at 0730 and had an early arrival at Port Browning at 1000.

The strong wind continued to blow against our beam all day. It kept the boat really cool and we even had to keep the port windows closed much of the time. More boats came in throughout the day, and the marina was fairly full by evening.

The grounds near the marina include a large area for camping, a swimming pool, access to the beach, and a pub above the marina office. The washrooms were clean and the showers looked good—the sign said one loonie ($1 Canadian coin) provides 4 minutes of hot water. The WiFi service there was good for most of the day, and they accepted garbage at no charge. Water was available, but only by jug or a very long hose.

In the afternoon, we walked up the road to check out the Driftwood Shopping Centre. It was about a 15-minute walk. The road was kind of hilly and there wasn’t much shoulder. This group of stores serves all of Pender Island, and seemed fairly complete. There was a good grocery store, nice bookstore, excellent bakery, a sushi restaurant, liquor store, fitness center, art galleries, pharmacy, post office, service station, and more. We got some bodacious blueberry muffins at the bakery for tomorrow morning, when we hope to have an early departure to return to the U. S.

driftwood center

Some of the buildings at the Driftwood Shopping Centre in Port Browning are charming.

driftwood center grocery

The Driftwood Shopping Centre grocery store is well stocked and looks like a good place to shop.

driftwood center outdoor eating

The Driftwood Shopping Centre includes a garden area with several café tables.

It was so windy on our boat today that we ended up going to the Port Browning pub for dinner. They had fish and chips on special today, and the food was good.

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