Howe Sound Travels

After Vancouver…

We finally left Vancouver after about a week; the weekends there are very busy and we had to get used to anchoring a little closer than usual. We have learned that no matter how interesting a place is when we arrive, it has a shelf-life and we can overstay it. We are glad we visited Vancouver but are equally glad that we moved on. We were able to sail a little bit the day that we left but the winds have overall been unspectacular for sailing thus far. We motored the last half of the way to Plumper Cove on Keats Island. This is right across the Shoal Channel from our goal: Gibson’s Landing. Yes, there is a reason that its called Shoal Channel! It was a bit sketchy going across the shoal.  Maureen has long wanted to visit Gibson’s Landing and Molly’s Reach. If you don’t know why, you wouldn’t understand anyway!

Suffice to say, Plumper Cove is one of the prettiest parks in the world and we really enjoyed our stay there. Its a great little anchorage but curiously, nobody was on anchor. Partly due to peer-pressure and partly due to exhaustion and lack of experience we tied up to a mooring ball like everyone else. It wasn’t a total waste of $12 per night though, as it was convenient and led to meeting Jim, the park attendant. Jim’s philosophy is that contentment is directly correlated to the number of separate ferry rides it takes to get from Vancouver to wherever it is that you seek contentment.  Three ferry rides minimum is best for peace!

Jerome, always combative, enjoyed many lightsaber fights, wrestling matches and a couple of little hikes in the idyllic setting. There was even a group of sea kayakers there that made me wonder when you’re coming to the coast next, Gord?  We were actually at Plumper Cove for a couple of days before we even bothered going to Gibson’s! Just FYI… If you do plan on going to Plumpers, everything there is “pack in, pack out”.

Gibson’s was an exciting visit (at first but a destination quickly overstayed!) We moved Finn across the channel and anchored off of the shore of Gibson’s. Its not a bad anchorage in decent weather but is prone to close passes by fast moving motor boats that keep things rocking around during the day. There is a lower town and an upper town. The lower town is charming and reminiscent of the “Beachcombers”. It has a nice, quiet, small town atmosphere.  The upper town: nope. We had lunch at Molly’s Reach. Its worth doing for fans but it actually is not the restaurant that was in the show – its been completely rebuilt. They sell tshirts and hats there but no Relic toques…so sad! The museum in town had a great section on “Beachcombers” including showing old episodes like the one with David Suzuki. (Stan, we are sure you’d like that one!?)

Jerome bought a drawing mannequin that he has named Woody (I suggested Art) at a neat general store that we call Ice Fongs because of the fortuitous placement of advertisements around the store’s actual name (Fong’s). In any case, we reprovisioned there and, the morning we left, we visited the fuel dock which was a big challenge for us. It’s the first time we have put fuel in the boat any place other than our familiar dock in Nanaimo. We’re still trying to learn how the boat moves – its nothing like a truck or car – its a little like driving a combine on a hockey rink surrounded by expensive china. Anyhow, pulling into the dock went very well but as we fueled a number of small power boats started arriving, perhaps for fuelling up for a day of fishing, they surrounded Finn like flies and made our escape a little nerve wracking. But, we made it and were pretty proud of ourselves!

Next stop: Smuggler’s Cove

(Jerome thought up “Howe Sound Travels”!)

2 replies on “Howe Sound Travels”

I have always wanted to visit Molly’s Reach! Thank you for the vicarious visit 🙂 Glad to see you folks are doing well and living the life!!! Wishing you continued safe journey and much adventure <
Donna, Dave and Jacob

It’s unfortunate that the general store and ice cream shop was purchased and converted to someone’s house at New Brighton dock, its a nice place to stop and take a walk.

Howe Sound in general needs way more marina space. Sad to be sailing around, seeing empty private docks galore in front of empty vacation properties when all the public docks and marinas are full to the brim. The wait list at even Gibsons’ is years long. Centre Bay on Gambier has a few great outstations, but they are all private yacht club outstations. That would be a great place for a marina, given it is protected from the outflows by Gambier and the inflows by Bowen.

If you choose to head towards Squamish, be mindful of the weather forecast. By the time you get near Porteau Cove and the Defense Islands there is a vortex and the wind becomes far stronger. Plus your a long ways from a safe harbour so you’re committed. It does die down a bit if you sail in the lee on an outflow but on an inflow you get no respite until you round Watts point. Come into Squamish harbour ONLY on a high tide. Follow the pilot lights until you get to the marked piling, then hug the pilings. At low tide there are areas by the creek that get so dry, you can run agound quite easily.

Coming into Squamish on a strong inflow to dock can be a harrowing experience for the uninitiated. Even with sails down the windage of your boat will keep you going faster than you feel comfortable. Once I was doing 6 knots – with the motor running in reverse. Then you get the big fun of navigating to come alongside the dock. If you haven’t made docking arrangments, you can briefly go to the yellow loading zone at the federal harbour and try to figure something out. The Yacht club usually wont turn people away if the federal harbour is full, but you need to make arrangments, the warfinger is a member he’ll let you know what to do.

If you simply can’t find moorage and have to vacate the loading area, you can set anchor in the channel, past the federal dock and the yacht club docks, but be very mindful of scope as the channel is narrow and there are quite a few homeless boats there waiting for moorage. If you choose to dinghy it to shore and take a walk through town, your dinghy will be pretty safe in the wooded area at shore and won’t get stolen as long as you don’t leave it there for too long.

Outer Howe Sound is a much better playground for boating though, you can hop Gibsons to Keats, wrap around to Snug Cove on Bowen, make a stop at Horseshoe Bay, if you wrap around the point of Horseshoe Bay there is the WVYC, depending on your yacht club membership status and club’s reciprocals you might be able to make a stop there for an overnight. If you go Under the Lions Gate be sure to do it at slack tide, the currents get pretty strong. There’s a gas bar and if you head towards the coal harbour docks and hug shore there is a public dock you can stop at for a few hours, access downtown and right by the dock is a pub.


Comments are closed.