Montague to Anacortes

July 8 – Reid Harbor

Montague to Reid Harbor, 24.65 nautical miles
Total this trip to date: 611.5 NM
We had terrible winds last night in Montague Harbour. The wind started mid-afternoon, and by evening we had 15-20 knot winds, frequently gusting to 25-30. The wind came at us from all directions and often the current put our beam to the wind. The current in Montague causes boats to move around more than in an anchorage without current. It didn’t help that a 50-foot sailboat anchored too close to us. We slept lightly.
This morning it was cloudy and we had a bit of rain. It was still windy, maybe 10-15 knots, but the wind moderated by mid-morning. After Jim cleaned out the genset raw water strainer (it had filled up with seaweed and kelp in last night’s wind), we hoisted the anchor at 1045. We traveled through Swanson Channel and crossed Boundary Pass to enter the U.S. We cleared U.S. Customs by phone and anchored in Reid Harbor on Stuart Island.
The Reid Harbor anchorage didn’t have as many boats as we usually see in July. It still seems that there are fewer boats out cruising this year. The clouds disappeared by mid-afternoon and were replaced by blue sky and sun. Reid Harbor is one of our favorites, and we enjoyed relaxing in a quiet, secure harbor. We noticed that the osprey nest we first saw 2 years ago in the top of a scraggy tree is still here, and with ospreys in it. Perhaps babies, but we’re too far away to see for sure.
Approaching Turn Point as we leave BC waters
Not too many boats in Reid Harbor
Osprey in nest on nearby snag
July 9 – Spencer’s Landing, Lopez Island
Reid Harbor to Spencer’s Landing, Lopez Island, 14.6 nautical miles
Total this trip to date: 626.1 NM

The morning in Reid Harbor was glorious…sunny and calm, with wall-to-wall blue sky. We had a leisurely morning, as we waited to leave so that we could go by Limestone Point at the 1300 slack. We hoisted the anchor and left Reid Harbor at 1200, and stopped for a while to look at the ospreys in the nearby nest. We saw two in the nest, and they were chirping at another bird flying over, either another osprey or an eagle…too far away to tell. We heard the chirps of babies, so are pretty sure there were babies, but didn’t actually see any.

There wasn’t much wind, but we rolled a lot as we made our way through the San Juans. Lots of boat traffic created wakes, wakes, and more wakes. We passed the Lopez ferry landing and turned in to Shoal Bay, and the rolling stopped. Sure felt good. We found Spencer’s Landing, a private marina, at the head of the bay. We were invited to tie up there as guests of our friends, Dick and Chris. Chris fixed a wonderful salmon dinner at their house…a nice break from our meals on board…and we enjoyed sharing sea stories.
It was a glassy calm morning in Reid Harbor
Two ospreys in the nest
We tied up at the end of a dock in Spencer’s Landing
July 10 – Anacortes
Spencer’s Landing to Anacortes, 12.67 nautical miles
Total this trip: 638.77 NM
It was overcast with a light southerly breeze this morning at Spencer’s Landing. The slack in Rosario was around 1000, and the current was turning east in Guemes Channel around the same time. We left at 0900, and encountered five of the WSF ferries as we made our way through Thatcher Pass and entered Rosario Strait. Must be the entire fleet that operates in the San Juans for the summer. Actually the ferry wakes were easier to handle than all the boat wakes from yesterday!
As we left Thatcher Pass, we saw lots of sports fishing boats…perhaps there are some fish to be caught there. Rosario had a 5-15 knot SW wind, and a low southerly swell. We came through Guemes Channel quickly, as the current carried us along. As we entered Fidalgo Bay, we saw the tall ship Lady Washington raising sail.
We entered Anacortes Marina and stopped at the fuel dock, then made our way to our slip. We got settled in, and reflected on how much we have enjoyed the past five weeks. It’s always a bit sad when the cruise is over. Tomorrow we’ll start dealing with cleaning up the boat, going through accumulated mail, doing laundry, sorting through provisions, and reorganizing things that we don’t need at hand while we’re at the dock. It’s time for annual exterior maintenance — varnishing the teak and waxing the hull — and we will get started on that in a few days.
Jim putting away mooring lines as we leave Spencer’s Landing
Mt. Baker is prominent from Rosario Strait
Lady Washington raising sail in Fidalgo Bay

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

Secret Cove to Nanaimo

July 4 – Secret Cove to Nanaimo

Secret Cove to Nanaimo, 21.95 nautical miles
Total this trip to date: 545.31 NM
It was calm when we got up and the Georgia Strait forecast looked good, so we hoisted the anchor and left Secret Cove at 0600. It was sunny this morning, which certainly helped. The sea conditions were fairly calm for the first half of our trip across the strait, but then a 15-knot NW wind filled in. Soon the seas built to a combination of 1-2 foot chop and westerly swell, and some of the waves were breaking. So we rolled for a while and then things settled in, and we arrived at the Port of Nanaimo docks at 0930.

There are a few more boats here than when we were here a month ago, as the cruising season is well underway. The warmer weather certainly helps. We heard a sad story from a couple on a sailboat that just came in from Schooner Cove. Yesterday, a man fell off the swim step of his 42-foot powerboat and died, with his wife at the helm of the boat. Apparently, the man went out to adjust the towing line of his dinghy, and when he didn’t return to the cabin, his wife put out a mayday. The mayday resulted in help coming to bring the boat back to Schooner Cove, where it is normally moored, and much police activity on the docks to handle the situation. Certainly a sobering story, making us mindful of how dangerous the sea can be and how important it is to boat carefully.
We walked a bit this afternoon and did some shopping. Got some things at the excellent Harbour Chandlery, and hit the Thrifty Foods to resupply our food lockers. We certainly enjoyed the sunny and warm day! We ended the day with dinner at Penny’s Palapa, a long-standing floating Mexican restaurant here at the Port of Nanaimo.
Georgia Strait was quite calm when we started across
(Nanaimo ahead in the distance)
Shops adjacent to Port of Nanaimo
(including a great place for ice cream cones)
Phoenix tied at the end of H dock at Port of Nanaimo
BC ferry from Gabriola Island entering Nanaimo

Pender Harbour to Secret Cove

July 3 – Pender Harbour to Secret Cove

Pender Harbor to Secret Cove, 10.75 nautical miles
Total this trip to date: 523.36 NM

We had a favorable weather forecast for Georgia Strait this morning, so we hoisted our anchor and left Pender Harbour at 0645. As we entered Georgia Strait, we found about 1-2 foot swells. As we turned toward Nanaimo, the swells were increasing and were on our beam. We started rolling and it soon became uncomfortable. So, rather than having another 2 hours of uncomfortable conditions, we decided to stop at a nearby anchorage, and made our way to Secret Cove. We decided to anchor just in case we saw conditions improve and we could head for Nanaimo. However, the wind increased, and, like yesterday, the weather forecast was changed at the 1030 update. Now the forecast was for NW 15-20. So we decided to stay in Secret Cove, and realized that the swells we encountered were announcing the wind that was on the way. Our anchor spot near the head of the bay north of the Secret Cove Marina was very comfortable.

We had a very nice day in Secret Cove. The sun came out, and it was a pretty spot and a quiet day. Today was our 8th consecutive day of rain (early this morning), so the blue sky and sunny afternoon felt wonderful. The kitties enjoyed the quiet time too. After many days without WiFi, we finally found an Internet connection and have been able to update the postings on our blog.

We think we’ll give Georgia Strait another try in the morning, as it looks as if we might have a day of settled conditions…however, it will depend on what we find once we get out there!

Secret Cove Marina and Store
Phoenix at anchor in Secret Cove
Mickey with the stuffed crab in his mouth
(Sorry it’s a little fuzzy, he was moving pretty fast!)

Shoal Bay to Pender Harbour

June 30 – Squirrel Cove

Shoal Bay Marina to Squirrel Cove, 31.01 nautical miles
Total this trip to date: 464.87 NM

It rained again today.  For the fifth day in a row! So we traveled with windshield wipers and radar again. There are strong winds in the forecast tomorrow for Georgia Strait…SE 15-20…and since we don’t want to be anywhere near Georgia Strait in a southeasterly, we plan to spend two days in Squirrel Cove.

We left Shoal Bay at 0900 to catch the 1015 slack at Dent Rapids. We still encountered a fair amount of whirlpools, but got through all three rapids without incident. We motored south through Lewis Channel in a SE wind, probably 10 knots. It was a gloomy but easy trip today.
There are more boats in Squirrel Cove tonight than we saw when we were here three weeks ago. But not as many as we usually see in here around the first of July. We’ve noticed less boats cruising this year…possibly due to the poor weather conditions and the economy. One marina owner we talked to said they are noticing fewer boats in the shoulder months (i.e. April/May and September/October) than in prior years. Hard to say why.
We’re planning crab enchiladas tonight as we sit in the light rain. But actually there are a few sun breaks, and temps are in the mid-60s, so perhaps the weather is turning to the better…
Still raining as we headed south in Lewis Channel
Mickey relaxing after we anchored in Squirrel Cove
The Squirrel Cove anchorage was not crowded
July 1 – Squirrel Cove
Still raining!!! It’s rained hard every day for the past six days! We have had occasional dry periods, but it’s been mostly wet. Plus, there are strong southeasterly winds 15-20 forecast for Georgia Strait today and tomorrow, and the last place we want to be is heading south in Georgia Strait in a southeasterly. We’ve been beaten up too many times in the past and hopefully we know better now. So, we are still in Squirrel Cove, and will stay here until we get more favorable traveling conditions.
We got some things cleaned up and organized around the boat this morning, and then decided we needed a break. So, even though it was still raining and windy, we put on our foul weather gear, launched the dinghy and motored over to the Squirrel Cove store…slowly in the SE swells. The store is located about 2 miles outside the anchorage, so we have to travel through the anchorage and out into the outer harbor (unprotected) to get to the store. In addition, it was low tide and the rather old ramp at the Squirrel Cove dock was extremely steep and slippery in the rain. We had to climb very carefully!
The store hasn’t changed much over the years. Because it serves the residents of Cortes Island, it’s fairly well stocked. Plus they have a giant walk-in cooler where they put dairy and produce, including a lot of organic products. The store is for sale, so we don’t know what the future will bring.
It was a good night for pasta and meatballs. Thankfully, the rain stopped and the winds turned calm about 1800, and we even had a few sunbreaks during dinner.
We took the dinghy to the Squirrel Cove store,
about 2 miles outside of the anchorage
Rosie watching the dinghy being stowed on deck, after we got back from the store.
Notice the 1979 photo of Carina, the sailboat we had for 23 years, on the bulkhead behind her.
July 2 – Squirrel Cove to Pender Harbour
Squirrel Cove to Pender Harbour, 47.74 nautical miles
Total this trip to date: 512.61 NM
We got up this morning and found the Georgia Strait forecast was 0-10 variable winds shifting to 5-10 NW, and it was calm in our Squirrel Cove anchorage! Looked like a perfect day for going to Pender Harbour.
We hoisted the anchor at 0645 and made our way out of the anchorage, through Thulin Pass, then entered Malaspina Strait. We checked the observation for Grief Point and to our dismay found it was blowing out of the southeast! At 1030, the forecast was changed to southeast winds of 5-15 with wind warnings posted. Ugh. We really didn’t want to have to beat into SE wind. But, we pressed on, and after we rounded Grief Point, the wind picked up and we began to feel some of the southeast swells coming our way.
The swells were bumpy at first, as they were on our starboard beam. The wind picked up a little and the current changed about the time we rounded Cape Cockburn. It’s about 6 miles from Cape Cockburn to the entrance to Pender Harbour, and for the whole way, we were in a washing machine with 1-2 foot swells entering Malaspina Strait from Georgia Strait, then bouncing off the land…so we got it from both directions.  We were very glad an hour later, when we finally made it inside the Pender Harbour entrance where the water was smoother. Rosie and Mickey slept through all this. They are great travelers!
We anchored in Garden Bay, which was very busy because this is Saturday night. Lots of traffic in and out of the marinas, and many boats anchored. The rain started again after dinner, marking seven strait days of rain…
We hope to be able to cross Georgia Strait and make it to Nanaimo tomorrow morning, but the forecast isn’t very promising. We will leave when the conditions are right.
The mainland BC mountain peaks sneaked out from
under the clouds as we left Squirrel Cove in the early morning
In Malaspina Strait, approaching Grief Point
We passed a schooner sailing between us and the mainland
as we passed Westview
Evening in Pender Harbour, before the rain started again

Potts Lagoon to Shoal Bay

June 28 – Forward Harbor

Potts Lagoon to Forward Harbor, 39.64 nautical miles
Total this trip to date: 414.83 NM

It was calm and lightly raining when we got up this morning in Potts Lagoon. We left at 0700 to catch the slack in Chatham Channel.  We headed down Clio Channel, watching commercial shrimpers and crabbers setting their pots for the day. The rain increased and fog developed as we passed Lagoon Cove Marina. We had an easy transit of Chatham Channel even though the visibility was reduced, and the rain stopped when we entered Havannah Channel. It was still calm…so we decided to continue on to get the Johnstone Strait passage behind us.

We noticed fog on the surface of Johnstone Strait as we looked out from Havannah Channel, and the foggy and drizzly conditions worsened as we entered the strait. We navigated by radar for most of the passage, with visibility of 2 miles or less. We had to watch carefully as there were lots of floating logs in the strait.
We turned in to Sunderland Channel and found a layer of ground fog on the water ahead. We watched a mega yacht emerge from the fog…a Westport 161 called EWIVA, with a helicopter on the boat deck. For a while, all we could see was their bridge deck, then the enormous boat appeared to our starboard. It left a rather nasty wake.
There were no other boats in Forward Harbor when we anchored, still in the rain and fog. Our trip today was almost 6 hours and we were glad to have a quiet and secure place to stop.
Johnstone Strait was calm with reduced visibility
from the fog and rain
Alice at the helm, on the lookout for logs
Mega yacht EWIVA, a Westport 161 – notice
the helicopter on the boat deck
Douglas Bay anchorage at Forward Harbor
June 29 – Shoal Bay Marina
Forward Harbor to Shoal Bay Marina, 19.03 nautical miles
Total this trip to date: 433.86 NM

Calm, but still raining when we got up in Forward Harbor. At 1008, the barometer is lower than we’ve ever seen this time of year in this area. Fortunately there aren’t any high pressure systems around, so it isn’t too stormy. But it certainly is gloomy. Hard to realize that it is almost July. Predicted winds for today in Johnstone Strait are northwest 15-20, increasing to 20-30 this evening. We plan to get somewhere where we can be stopped before it gets too bad.

We hoisted the anchor at 0730 to catch the slack current in Whirlpool Rapids and Green Point Rapids. The rain intensified for a while, but finally quit as we exited Green Point Rapids and was replaced by low-lying clouds. There was space at the dock at Shoal Bay Marina as we motored by, so we decided to stop and enjoy Mark’s hospitality again.
Bob and Marilynn Hale, who have owned and published the Waggoner Cruising Guide for many years, were visiting Shoal Bay in their Tolly 37, Surprise. Bob helped us with lines as we arrived at the dock, and it was good to visit with them for a while before they continued on their way north for a planned lunch at Cordero Channel Resort and then on to Blind Channel Resort. Bob sold the Waggoner earlier this year, but said he is still doing some research for the publication and has plans to go to Ocean Falls and Rivers Inlet this season, with a turnaround at Shearwater. We told him about the unseasonably cool and wet weather we had in the Broughtons, and he said the weather has been good on their trip north. Maybe we’ll find some better weather once we get to Desolation Sound…
Still raining in Chancellor Channel on the way to Shoal Bay
A logging camp on the mainland in Cordero Channel
They were sliding logs into the water to form a log boom
During a brief evening sun break, we saw the tops of the
mountains in Phillips Arm from the Shoal Bay Marina dock