Anchorage hidden behind a rock…

On August 7th, we were on the way to the Von Donop Inlet on Cortes Island. It was a 19.1 nm trip and we had to make slack at the passage called “Hole in the Wall”. This is a narrow passage that runs between Sonora and Maurelle Islands and links Okisollo and Calm Channel. The currents here are bordering on ridiculous and can easily run at ten knots. A full keeled 40 foot sailboat running at full power usually tops out at around seven knots. So, you can see how that might cause some difficulty! Trystan timed the entry perfectly and we motored through. At the other end of the channel we saw orcas! There were 5-6 with a juvenile, we think. It was a very spectacular and quick visit as they swam by. We did a couple of loops and drifted with the current a bit to watch and, when the whale-watching boats had arrived en masse, we continued to motor past Rendezvous Island and put up the sails in the stiff breeze. We even did an impromptu man-overboard drill to rescue Jerome’s knot line when it fell overboard – all under sail! We sailed down the Sutil Channel and saw a humpback whale playing in the water. This was one of our most spectacular sightings so far! He started the show with a spectacular breach and then waved repeatedly with his pectoral fins and slapping his tail. Jerome gave him the name “Excited”. He was making a heck of a racket – looking like a little boy wandering along the sidewalk and talking to himself. The beauty of sailing is that you can hear the whales blow and slap and they will swim close by as you sail by. As soon as they become aware of a motor they tend to swim away as quickly as they can and who can blame them really?!

We motored into Von Donop Inlet just after low tide and anchored in the first bay on the starboard side after the lagoon. The entry into Von Donop is a narrow, shallow passage with a hidden rock right in the middle. This threatening entry keeps out much of the cruising crowd but we are unencumbered by experience or common sense so proceeded in to discover one of our favourite anchorages. We explored the bay to the port side. It was still low tide so Yas went swimming for a very long time in the very warm water (bathtub warm) and Jerome set up a meteorite impact station on the shoreline that measured the wave impact (from giant rocks being tossed in beside it).

The next morning we set out to explore the lagoon as the tide was going out. What an amazing place! There were water falls as the tide went out and the shoreline was full of so many interesting things to look at. We saw many types of sea stars, anemones, crabs (decorator and red rock), acorn and thatched barnacles, urchin shells and a dog fish skeleton to name just a few. We spent quite a fair bit of time there – it would be a great place to return to and explore more.

We finished more projects while we were there as well. I made a harness for the outboard and mounted the stern tie reel. Jerome organized and cleaned the dingy and Trystan and Jerome replaced the gaskets on our hatches and finished painting the aft companionway. Because we were running out of food quite quickly (all of our fresh fruit, veges, milk and meat were long gone – we were eating out of tins now!) we decided to head out for Squirrel Cove on the east side of Cortes Island and find the grocery store.

On August 9th, we weighed anchor and carefully left Von Donop – it was low tide and we had to make sure we didn’t hit the rock in the middle of the channel! Once out in the Sutil Channel heading north we saw another humpback whale. This one was obviously sleeping as he was close to the surface, breathing and barely moving along. Jerome named this one “Sleepy”. We floated beside him for awhile being careful to not wake him up. We realized that there were two more humpbacks across the channel that were slapping their tails and making lots of noise so we turned south to go their way. By the time we were close to them, they were sleepy too! It was a very hot day, very calm and very smoky too – maybe the reduced sunlight makes whales sleepy?

Because we were heading south anyways, we decided to change our original plans and continue towards Rebecca Spit. Along the way, we went beside another sleepy humpback. All the humpbacks seemed to be taking the day off! Trystan made lunch while underway and got in for a swim just south of Read Island. We arrived at Village Bay around 1600 hours and anchored in the bay. We had the entire bay to ourselves! (Village Bay was recommend to us by the Park Attendant at Rebecca Spit. She suggested we go there because there’s a warm place to swim as the water runs out of Village Bay Lake into the bay and it is quiet anchorage because very few will stop there.) Apparently Village Bay was once a Native Village. Again, it would have been perfect…fishing, freshwater, warm water to swim in and shelter in the trees. Just FYI: Village Bay Lake joins with Main Lake, making this freshwater waterway the largest in the Gulf or Discovery Islands.

Trystan and I did go swimming in the creek (it had really warm water!). Jerome and Yas decided not to try it. They were waiting for us to explore the beach which had lots of driftwood, rocks that didn’t have too many oysters (finally!!) and a driftwood fort that Trystan and Jerome made some renovations to.

We decided to stay overnight but because there was a wind forecast we moved further towards shore and stern tied to the islet in the middle of the bay. When it got windy during the night, it got quite noisy with the stern lines flapping and the anchor pulling. Finn was not impressed with our decision to stay and it was a long night for all of us but we did have the bay to ourselves!

On August 10th, we pulled up anchor and stern lines and headed out for Rebecca Spit and fresh food! We motored slowly (about 4.5 knots) because we were pulling the dingy behind to see how that would work in a short trip (4.7 nm). The dinghy will ride on the davits from now on. Concerns about damaging it, the extra drag it causes and backing over the painter when anchoring at the end of your journey outweigh the small convenience of not hauling it onto the davits. Rebecca Spit is a favourite of ours. The park is beautiful and easily accessed, there is a huge anchorage with good cover in most winds and there is a grocery store only a mile away by dinghy. We are at Rebecca spit now as I post this. Its a beautiful calm day with clear skies. The smoke from the forest fires has cleared today, possibly because we had some 10-15 knot winds all day yesterday. We’re starting to think of heading south. We have to find a place to leave the boat for September and then also find winter moorage for the low season which usually starts in October. We have come to the gradual conclusion that we will remain in the great white north this winter as none of us feel ready for the offshore work required to go south just yet. We hope to be able to moor at a dock in the Victoria inner harbour. Maureen and Trystan have vague notions of attending some university courses and getting Jerome in a sport club or Scouts or something for the winter… we’ll see what develops!

In any case, we are looking forward to spending a month or two with family ashore. Harvest at the farm and the autumn in Summerland are wonderful times…