S/V AQUILA 2009 Salish Sea Cruise


AQUILA  post repairs and paint in the boatyard ready to go. Photo by Foster
 As promised to a number of sail cruising friends and family here is a brief account of the 2009 September cruise of the sailing vessel AQUILA, our
S-2, 30 foot center cockpit sailboat. I'll note here that this post was wrote as 12 installments over the course of time and then pasted together in this blog. A good point to know as there are referenecse to that affect. Oh, and the acronym? We'll get to that a little later...

 This year’s journey was through the San Juan & Gulf Islands of the Pacific Northwest. A fantastic archipelago located in the mid reaches of Salish Sea. More on the area in just a moment. Our cruising platform, the S/V AQUILA was in prime fitness having just undergone hull surface repairs in the wake of an October 2008 mishap that left the hull gouged and scratched, part of the rub-rail unseated and some other cosmetic details to address.
I chose to have the repair work contracted at North Harbor Diesel in Anacortes, http://www.northharbordiesel.com/ and for the most part they did a fine job. There were some details like a backing plate left off our anchor roller and a neglected sheave fitted to the rudder shank, which they later fixed; but all in all I was pleased with their work.
Finally! A winter coordinating the repairs, a summer in the boatyard.
Near ready to go. Photo by Foster
  My September '09 arrival in the shore side town named after Anna Curtis, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anacortes,_Washington happened on the first day of the ninth month and throughout the next four consecutive days I worked on, purchased for, loaded, stowed, prepped, rigged, and cleaned the boat. The above image is of AQUILA being hauled down one the marine access streets of Anacortes for launching on 09.05.09 it would have been a grand occasion except that the above mentioned sheave for the rudder caused an immediate reschedule of a haul out and repair for early the next morning. About the time that was completed a southerly packing 30 to 40 knot winds blew into the harbor and another couple of days were spent working on the boat. It was during a very brief lull in that blow I managed to navigate the ‘ditch’, a marked, dredged channel, linking the southern boat yards & marinas to the boat basin in the shallows off eastern Anacortes. There’s a sailing saying my cruising friends have all heard but I’ll share with the rest of you, “owning a cruising sailboat means you get to do boat maintenance and repairs in exotic ports of call”*. Catherine and I can attest to the truth of this wisdom. I ‘hove-to’ at Cap Sante Boat Basin for the next three days finishing minor projects and awaiting the arrival of my crew.
*Note - While I realize to many of you Anacortes is NOT an exotic "port of call" considering AQUILA spends most of her time afloat on her buoy near Kettle Falls in Eastern WA ~ Anacortes IS an exotic port of call to some of us.

My piling neighbors for a couple of days - photo by Foster
 My resident neighbors just as the weather was blowing in. I think they enjoyed the fact that the joke was on me and the weather (not to mention chores) had AQUILA pinned to the docks for several more days.
One of the captured images during that time is dawn after the passage of the cold front winds. The first of many Labor Day weekend sailboats putting out with the coming of fair weather.

With AQUILA spending most of her time on a freshwater buoy and we spending
most of our boating time on the hook, I find I enjoy these rare moments in the marinas.
Photo by Foster
  Of course the arrival of the rest of the crew (Catherine and Clementine)meant more gear, food, clothes, and sundry other items to be sorted and stowed. By the time we had completed that series of tasks another late summer day had passed and the choice of venturing out into the final hours of the afternoon and make a twilight run for an anchorage or settle into a glass of wine snug below decks and early into the berths for an early wake-up - shore side showers - early morning departure. We chose the later and enjoyed our evening and dock walk very much.
After nearly 8 months off the water it was good tohave AQUILA afloat again ~ and ready for a month long cruise!

“Oops” the early morning run went south with another venture to West Marine, Safeway, the liquor store and fueling the boat. That’s okay, after a calm early afternoon crossing of Rosario Strait we made James Island, http://www.stateparks.com/james_island.html and took a buoy for our first-night-off-the-dock portion of the cruise. James Island is one of the islands that are part of the Washington State Parks (see link provided above). Somehow over the course of ensuing years we had forgotten the ferry wake rolling into the buoy field on the northern side of the island. It was a rollicking night!

Alright ~ were off! Any of you who have planned for, provisioned for,
worked the checklists and  finally left the docks know the feeling. Photo by Foster

A very short run from Anacortes but a start none-the-less...

The Clementine-in-the-forest photo is the view through the lens of my partner Catherine as she & teen-daughter-woman-child frolicked through the forested slopes of James Island, climbing trees and chasing slugs. At this stage in the cruise there were still boat-chores consisting of stowing miscellaneous goods, trying to find a leak in the water system, and the like. These tasks combined with long work weeks leading up to the early moments under way and long hours of prep took their toll. Another free saying for you, this one from me, I've already given you the acronym but just in case you don't remember; I.T.A.L.O.W.T.H.T.M.F! Seems like I say it before and after each cruise. There is so much innate truth in it my fortune may very well be made in T-shirts and bumper stickers from this wis – “It Takes A Lot Of Work To Have This Much Fun!” That being the case, it may come as no surprise our next anchorage was no more than two nautical miles from our first. Spencer Spit… http://www.stateparks.com/spencer_spit.html Which is where this next photo, image #10 was taken. A quiet afternoon on the state park buoy. A cell call to our dear cruising buddy, Marjean Mathews, a solo sailor on the sailing vessel GRACE revealed she had just seasonally laid-off from her job at the San Juan County Parks and was sailing toward Sucia Island for a much needed on-board break from work. Catherine and I went to berth with that thought in mind along with a bunch of other psychobabble of brains struggling to disconnect from the Matrix.

AQUILA at rest on the saltchuck off Spencer Spit. Things are finally slowing down.
Photo by Foster
 Predawn promised a clear, late summer day. Catherine and I awoke at nearly the same time and with the same thought. "Lets go to Sucia!" There were a number of reasons not to. An impending, although manageable, rendezvous with another good friend who was planning on cruising with us for a week or so. A pre-planned but surprise birthday party for the upcoming 17 year old who has spent the last 6 birthdays under sail in remote anchorages with very limited (but unique) party activities. And more. But the call of the dawn and our spirits rising to a new adventure prevailed and soon we were motoring our 16,000 pound loaded displacement, 30 sailboat out Peavine Pass and back into the embrace of Rosario Strait for an early morning run. The winds of change had been whispering down East Sound of Orcas Island as we motored out into the strait. It was a portend of things to come. We were running with a flood tide giving AQUILA a lift but a northerly breeze was building, though in the early stage of the run the eastern shoulder of Orcas Island and Mount Constitution blocked the winds. By mid morning we were set to round Lawrence Point. Our approach revealed a continuous stretch of foaming, white water, wind waves being stacked up against the running tide. It was an impressive sight. Word had come up to me from the galley that breakfast, more of a brunch actually, was about to be served. I looked into the line of wave after wave, white capped and rolling toward us just around the rockscape of the point and knew there was no where out there where breakfast could be easily managed. I chose to heave-to (hold the boat in place) just at the abrupt edge of calm waters meeting the frothing churn of the wind whipped waves. Breakfast was good and relaxed. Then it was time to reef the main and shorten the jib. We eased into the maelstrom of the channel, out from the protection of the point and the rodeo began. Well, hmm…   Almost.

Making our way east in Peavine Pass on a quiet, late summer morning.
Photo by Foster
 Nothing untoward happened. AQUILA accelerated into the mix and held her own footing sweetly. No bilge warning lights flashed of impending water filling the boat. The rail wasn’t blown under. We simply heeled a bit and continued on under way sailing along. It was great! It was the 1st time since the ’08 accident we had put our vessel to the test and she was rather nonchalant about it to tell the truth.
“Oh, this?” she seemed to say, “yes, remember, we’ve gone through much worse.” I hadn’t really put my finger on it but after many miles under sail and motoring through many differing conditions, some quite adverse, I was nervous. Not due to lack of experience but to the fact that this boat had undergone a near serious accident and I was uncertain how she would handle rough conditions.
“No problemo mon,” the voice in my head told me and a large, probably silly grin spread across my big, bald dog face.
“Having fun?” Catherine asked coming on deck in her warmies to share this part of the passage with me.
“Yeah,” I replied. “Lots of it!” And we romped and we ran. AQUILA shoulder tossing aside white foaming bow waves with nary a glance. The sails drawing, the boat making good time on her close hauled tacks in the general direction of our destination. It was GREAT!
The next photo; “Piloting into the sun” is a short while before rounding Lawrence Point into the run of the waves and tide.

Can be a bit nip in the early September mornings. Photo by Catherine Brown

S/V AQUILA '09 September Cruise: PART 2

A fun little loop in the course is breakfast in the wind shadow of Orcas...

Well, as oft happens in the San Juan Islands in the late summer, the morning breeze abated, the reef was shook out of the main and our furling Genoa headsail fully engaged as the afternoon settled into a clear, sunny day. No complaints of sailing in the sunshine from our boat. A cell phone call to S/V GRACE and Marjean tells us she is anchored in Echo Bay off the eastern side of Sucia Island. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sucia_Island or http://bellinghamster.com/sucia-island.htm

AQUILA'S logo with a fine bit of spray on a sunny morning.

"The days pass happily with me wherever my ship sails."
- Joshua Slocum

By 1400:hours (2:pm) AQUILA was rafted along side GRACE, a 1965 vintage, Islander 33. Twas great to catch up with our friend Marjean in such a delightful anchorage. The Sucia island group is composed of eleven islands and various drying rocklets. Very unique is this landmass with the shape of a crab (see map). Some of the islands are private but most of this small archipelago is a Washington State Marine Park. Accessible only by boat or seaplane it is still a very popular destination. According to Ranger Ted Schlund, who is in charge of this area, Sucia Marine Park at peak season may provide anchorage to 600 boats a night. Please see the link provided for more detailed information.
Mount Baker, a fine anchorage, sunny day and dinghies on the beach.

After rafting the vessels together, adjusting the  scope of the anchor rode, and assuring the boats were secure, there was still enough early September sun in the late summer sky to entice our party of sailors ashore to enjoy the excellent hiking trails offered by this fine destination. In this image we see the dinghies hauled up a fine gravel beach, with Clementine sitting on a rock shelf extending into Echo Bay. Mount Baker is in the background. Mount Baker, Koma Kulshan in part of the indigenous tongue, is a prominent part of the experience of cruising the San Juan & Gulf Island group in fair weather. The native name means “White Sentinel” and indeed Koma Kulshan looks over a vast track of the southern Inside Passage. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Baker
A shell beach, sunny weather, dry driftlogs and maybe even a cold beverage.

A little time spent lounging in the sunshine on a comfortable driftwood bench, a bit of a hike through a mixture of deep forest and grand island vistas, some messing about in boats, exploring the craggy shoreline or rock islets and it all adds up to a good time when in a great location such as Sucia. Actually there’s over six miles of hiking trails, some good cliff climbing and boulder scrambling, especially at China Caves. And if you happen to be a scuba diver there’s an underwater park offering some of the clearest waters in the San Juan Islands.
The Cluster Islands are part of the Sucia group. Photo by Foster

Wondering about the history of this area? Here’s a brief glimpse of post European explorers: Word has it that when Captain Eliza named Sucia in 1791 it wasn't because the island was actually “dirty” which is the Spanish translation of “sucia”, it was due to the many submerged reefs in the bays and surrounding islands making it unsuitable for ships to explore or make landfall. Records indicate that Eliza the captain of the SAN CARLOS grew frustrated with the lack of wind & strong currents that carried the ship off course. There is indication that Captain Eliza may have run the SAN CAROLS ground – more than once! So boaters beware. I did note in a recent 48* North sailing magazine that a new unmarked rock was found in the southern portion of Echo Bay. While the rock knob in question doesn't 'dry' at low tide, word is there are some notable fiberglass markings on it's highest point http://www.48north.com/

Looking west into Shallow Bay on Sucia Island. Photo by Foster
 In the above photograph we see a portion of the Cluster Islands, within the Sucia group. The next image offers a shore side glimpse into Shallow Bay, another very popular anchorage, on the western side of the marine park. Illustrating the point made above regarding the translation of Sucia, in this photo, on the right hand side of the image you can see a rocky reef which at high tide submerges. This is very typical of the Sucia island group. Near the center of this picture a good navigator can see the dark shapes of two ‘can’ buoys (remember you can double click an image to make it bigger). To safely enter the Shallow Bay anchorage a skipper must pass between these markers, a luxury Captain Eliza didn’t have

Like a breaking wave frozen in time... Photo by Foster
 It is said that “in the smallest stone there is an image of a mountain”. In this photo I see a portion of a sandstone island with the distinct appearance of a cresting wave. It caught the imagination enough to warrant a dozen photographs edited down to this one.

Mount Baker (Koma Kulshan) seen from Sucia at sunrise. Photo by Foster

In the wake of a calm night in the anchorage of Echo Bay we awoke to a grand sunrise over Koma Kulshan. It is hard to imagine a more beautiful view from this island anchorage. Catherine and I bundled up and sat in the chill of a late summer’s morning sipping steaming hot coffee (with just the kiss of Bailey's) and watching the mountain announce the coming of the sun.

AQUILA and GRACE rafted together on a calm sunrise in Echo Bay.
Photo by J. Foster Fanning

"The lovely thing about cruising is that planning usually turns out to be of little use."
- Dom Degnon

She knows there's Orca out there. What she doesn't know is that within three
hours she will see nearly 100 in a super pod. Photo J. Foster Fanning.

As well as our rendezvous with Marjean on GRACE there had been more gravity pulling the sailing vessel AQUILA and her crew north. As a fire chief I am fortunate to have some friendships and many acquaintances all across our great state. One of those very special relationships is with a group of firefighters from Orcas Island. A finer lot you will not find. Now it works out that Orcas Island Fire Department is in partnership with Washington State Parks and the Bureau of Land Management in efforts to restore a portion of Patos Island, which is the next island featured in this journal of our 2009 cruise.

Appears to be a pirate camp on the point of Patos. Oh wait thats...

Off to Patos…
But you’ll have to heave-to matey whilst I spin that portion of the yarn.

S/V AQUILA '09 Sept. Cruise; Sucia to Patos - Part 3

This is the 3rd installment of our month long sail cruise in the San Juan & Gulf Islands

The last installment left the crew of AQUILA traveling the short distance between Sucia & Patos islands. See the map above.

Alden Point lighthouse on Patos Island- photo by J. Foster Fanning
 Our approach to Patos was toward the small, shallow opening south of Little Patos where the waters flush out of Active Cove. Catherine had glassed the island and spotted a large land camp of what appeared to be pirates. Our guess told us we had discovered the camp of the Orcas Island firefighters flying the Jolly Roger. And then my cell phone rang. It was our good friend Max standing ashore waving and hailing us via the phone. "There's a sail boat just leaving the buoy," she told us. This was good news indeed. Active Cove is aptly named and other than the two mooring buoys maintained by Washington State Parks Department http://www.parks.wa.gov/
there is little options for anchoring in the small cove. Tis good news to have such timing as to be in the vicinity of Active Cove when a boat is leaving a mooring buoy (see map below). We motored around Little Patos ready to pick-up an overnight mooring buoy. Imagine our surprise when rounding the small island and finding that another sailboat had been incoming from the east, around Alden Point, initially unseen by us and was already picking up 'our' buoy. I grumbled a bit and told Cathy it was a ten minute shortfall on our part.
We worked AQUILA into Active Cove with a bit of optimism that we would find a way to anchor her therein. But it was not to be. After sounding the depths, consulting the tide tables and checking out the big powerboat on the inner buoy, and the newly arrived sailing vessel on the other, we readied our deck for anchoring. Almost immediately our anchor fouled in the eel grass and would not set. As we were hauling chain over the bow the gentleman on the buoyed sailboat called to me. "Raft up?" he offered. It was a tentative offer and I know at that moment we both would have preferred for my anchoring attempt to have succeeded. Catherine and I considered our options and called back, accepting the invitation to tie our vessel along side his. Pretty intimate accommodations for strangers but it is a common tactic in the boating community where buoy, moorage or dock space is limited. Image #2 above with the sailing vessel departing around the Patos lighthouse off Alden Point is by Catherine Brown.

Daughter and Mother stretching a leg in the short but sunny hike to the
lighthouse - photo by J. Foster Fanning
 It takes a bit to get two sailing vessels tied rail-to-rail off one mooring buoy. This is especially true when you are meeting your neighboring crew for the first time. But fate smiled on us that day. Our new & gracious neighbors were Slavek & Alicja Michalowski on a beautiful, older Baba sailing vessel (unnamed). While we didn't know it at the time Slavek & Alicja were to play a part in a later stage of our journey. In the meantime we enjoyed their company in Active Cove off Patos Island.
Photograph #4 has Clementine & Catherine Brown hiking happily along toward the norwestern tip of Alden Point. The image below is the Patos lighthouse with part of the Canadian Gulf Islands in the background. For more info on the lighthouse go to: http://www.lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=103

A fine place to be on a mid September day - photo by J. Foster Fanning

Patos Island is roughly 210 acres running northwest to southeast. It is the northern most of the San Juan islands and mostly a Marine State Park. A lighthouse occupies two acres on Alden Point, the western tip. Mooring and camping facilities are available for visiting boaters at designated sites. Patos is the setting for Helene Glidden’s book, THE LIGHT ON THE ISLAND. Mrs. Glidden lived on Patos as a child in the early 1900's and vividly recalls the accounts of smugglers, native tribes, visits by Col. Teddy Roosevelt as well as general life on the island. Catherine found a copy & read this book during the rest of our cruise often laughing out loud, occasionally with a tear, usually with a smile. It was a book she enjoyed.

Catherine, Clementine & I on Patos for the first time. Photo by Max Jones. Our early sallie ashore was to greet friends, scope out the lighthouse (see above) and stretch our legs. Our arrival ashore was greeted by the baleful bleating of several kelp horns the firefighters had made. They had harvested some fresh kelp, cut the bulb off the root end and cut the remaining kelp tubes of varying lengths. Blowing a kelp horn is a bit like blowing a wrapping paper tube. If your good at it you might get a sound somewhere between a moose call and a melodic whale. The firefighters were good at their aquatic greeting of our crew.

And welcomed we were to the pirate camp ashore - photo by someone else

I'd oft sailed by Patos and once poked the bow of my boat into the cove but had never made landfall on the island. I can now attest it is a fine but not easy location to visit.

Sculpted sandstone of Patos - photo by J. Foster Fanning
 This photograph of the sandstone shoreline illustrates the unique & fascinating sandstone sculpting in the rocks found on Patos & throughout much of the northern San Juan Islands. This geologic feature is part of the much larger Nanimo Formation. The website of Anacortes Kayak Tours has a comprehensive look at the geology of the San Juan Islands at:http://www.anacorteskayaktours.com/sea_kayaking_tours/sanjuanislands_geology.html

Image of Orca from on-line site...

Image of Orca from on-line site...
After a late morning on Patos Island AQUILA'S crew retired to our boat for a light lunch and to get ready for the evening pirate party ashore. Twas during this time we shared a good visit with our neighbors Slavek & Alicja. They gave us a tour of their beautiful boat and we shared a conversation of islands, boats and life aboard. It was near the end of that hospitable visit I heard the kelp horns of the firefighters blowing their eerie call from the shore side camp. As we came on deck the 'music' of the multitude of kelp horns continued. "There! There! Look there!" someone cried from the powerboat astern of us, pointing to the open water beyond the entrance to Active Cove. "Orcas!" the shout went out. And indeed there were orca whales. Lots of orca whales swimming by the cove entrance. The photos I'm using here I found on-line, representing our orca sighting. The orcas were about a quarter mile off our bow, and no photos did we get. Still the sighting was amazing as the number of killer whales was more than any of us had ever seen. Line after line, group after group the orcas continued to pass the cove entrance. Some of the whales were displaying full dorsal fins, complete with saddle markings, others were swimming in tight clusters. We noted some calves and a few large males patrolling solo off the group. The procession lasted nearly ten minutes and all the while the kelp horns of the firefighters continued their strange and mournful baying. When I looked to the shore I could tell the firefighters were watching the orcas passing on the other side of Little Patos, a point we couldn't see from the moorage. Catherine and I loaded into the dinghy and headed to shore. We joined our friends standing atop a rock formation with over a mile long line of orca whales stretched out in the late afternoon sun. It was amazing! The guess was several pods had come together for fishing, hunting and mating. Conservatively we guessed at 40 plus orca whales in this group. Weeks later Catherine & I spoke with a Canadian based whale counting group who had heard of the large cluster of orca whales and flew down the day after we saw them off Patos and counted over 60 in the combined pod. For more info in ocra whales go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killer_Whale If you do check out this site on Wikipedia scroll down to the vocalizations and play them. There are similarities to the kelp horn sounds.

The lady Catherine the pirate - photo Maxx Jones

Post orca whale sighting - here is a photo of Catherine decked out in her finest pirate regalia and ready to conduct a raid on the shore side camp of our firefighting friends. Orcas Fire Department is partners with the WA Parks Department & Bureau of Land Management in an effort to clean-up Patos Island and eradicate some of the invasive species of plants introduced to the island years ago. More on Orcas Island Fire Department go to: http://www.orcasfire.org/

Orcas Island firefighter aka pirate camp - unsure of photog
 The pirate camp. Twice a year the Orcas Island firefighters come to Patos Island with large work parties conducting operations under the guidance of WA Parks Department. This partnership is of great benefit to the well being of the island and the park visitors. Actually it appears Patos Island is the beneficiary of several cooperative arrangements not only with the firefighters but with local Boy Scout groups, the Friends of the Lighthouse and probably more I'm not yet aware of.

Jeff, the orca caller and the amazing master of ceremonies - photo by Foster
 Our good friends and firefighters Jeff & Maxx Jones in the sunset off Patos Island.

Alden Point lighthouse on Patos Island at September sunset. Photo by J. Foster Fanning
In that same sunset, the Patos Island lighthouse. If ever you get the chance to visit this unique island of the San Juan group bring your camera, a good pair of binoculars, a copy of THE LIGHT ON THE ISLAND and the time to enjoy it all...

Firefighters always have a vision and point the way.
Photo by an Orcas Island firefighter
 A BIG "Thank You!" to our friends with the Orcas Island Fire Department. Appreciate you hosting us on this great part of our September 2009 Cruise. I look forward to the Patos Island Fire Department sweatshirt!

I'll close this third installment of the 09' Cruise with a photograph of Slavek & Alicja's Baba sailing vessel leaving Patos. Little did we know it but our paths were soon to cross again in another chance encounter

So off we sailed, this time souwesterly weaving our way through the islands and toward another rendezvous with another old friend. The adventure continues in the upcoming fourth installment...
Chapter 4 ~ The Joy of Sailing, Life & Love…

Let’s start this 4th installment of our sailboat cruise story with a birthday cake. Admittedly not everyone thinks of birthday cakes when we speak of traveling under sail. But if the ninth month of the year is upon us the crew of AQUILA certainly gives thought to birthdays. Mine is early in September, Catherine’s a bit later and Clementine’s is near the mid-month mark. So we start this phase of our story off with an image of a birthday cake. Not just any birthday cake but one created in celebration of the passing someone’s first 17 years. You’re absolutely right – it wasn’t made for me!

Okay, we’ll use this special cake as our compass and take the topics as presented thereon; Sailing, Life & Love…Sailing in our case, after leaving Patos Island, took the crew of AQUILA down the western shore of Orcas Island and back to Spencer Spit (see map) for a rendezvous with our good friend Richard Emery on his custom 30’ motorsailer CHAK CHAK. In the second image we have our two vessels rafted together mooring on a state park buoy. Our arrival at Spencer Spit marked a somewhat unplanned, counter-clock-wise circumnavigation of Orcas Island, the biggest ‘rock’ in the San Juan archipelago.
Our joining with CHAK CHAK marked the phase of our cruise I’ll call “Messing About” (see 'yellow' area on the map). Over the course of the next few days West Sound of Orcas Island was our home-base. As chance would have it we managed a rendezvous not only with Richard on CHAK CHAK, but our friends Janet & Jay Berube of the sailing vessel BLUE HERON. As well as another path crossing with Marjean on GRACE, and a surprise reunion with Slavek & Alicja on their Baba. That first night on the West Sound Marina dock our flotilla numbered five cruising sailboats. Jay & Janet are fellow members of Rickey Point Sail Club on Lake Roosevelt who were near wrapping up a six week cruise throughout the southern reaches of the Inside Passage. While we didn’t get a good picture of them under sail this year I’ll use a stock photo I took of BLUE HERON, a Kent Ranger 26, a couple of years ago.

In the next photo we see Alicja & Slavek approaching the fuel docks of West Sound Marina as a commercial seaplane taxies from the dock in preparation of take-off. Betwixt tides, shallows, seaplanes, other boats, kelp-beds, ferries, dinghies, crabpot floats, and whales, a skipper has a lot of moving parts to keep track of when navigating the islands.

 AQUILA dock-side and a gathering of sailors. Catherine had coordinated with our firefighting friends, Max & Jeff to stage a surprise birthday party for Clementine at their new East Sound home. As it worked out the day of our flotilla gathering coincided with the party and soon our island friends found their backyard filled with a salty (a few of us were approaching crusty) mix of sailors and firefighters. In the local jargon, “It was Skookum!”
There is a saying in reference to the idea that complex stories can be described with just a single still image, or that an image may be more influential than a substantial amount of text. It also aptly characterizes the goals of visualization where large amounts of data must be absorbed quickly; “A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS”. And in this case I have merged several photographs into one frame to tell the fun story of that special night in the backyard of Max & Jeff Jones…
But there are two photo images of that same event I will post separately and with little notation. This absolutely fun image of the birthday girl and Max…

And this one of mother & daughter. And thus we have all the elements of the birthday cake; “The Joy of SAILING, LIFE & LOVE…”

As the late, great George Harrison told us, “All things must pass” and so did our shore-side birthday party. The next day found our impromptu flotilla hoisting sail and heading off to varying points of the compass. In photograph #10 Catherine has captured an image of AQUILA hoisting her new spinnaker and ghosting along in very light air. In image #11, Marjean readies the sailing vessel GRACE for a run back to Bellingham.
In picture #12 Slavek & Alicja have the sails up and their beautiful vessel catching the breeze on a sun filled September morning as Catherine & I bid them farewell once again. Jay & Janet pointed their bow eastwards and toward the end of their very fine journey. It was great to cross wakes with them. Richard’s plan was to cruise CHAK CHAK with us for a week or so, into the Gulf Islands of southern British Columbia.
Often we have non-sailing friends ask us, “So what do you do all day long when your out on the boat?” Well along with the above we also row about exploring different bays, coves, anchorages and the like.

We visit different ports of call, like our excursion for homemade ice cream at Deer Harbor Marina (and what a nice looking crew AQUILA has been gifted with).

We visit with friends, take the time to have in-depth conversations, and often make new friends along the way.

And some evenings we play music. But rarely, hardly never are we bored...
That ends the "Messing About" phase of our cruise. In the next part of our adventure CHAK CHAK & AQUILA head north to clear Canadian Customs and the big question is, "What are we going to do with all this booze?"
Hope you join us then... Foster
Here are some links to the places visited in this portion of the journey;
The 5th Installment: North to Nanaimo...

We’ll start this post out with an image rendered from a photograph I took on Newcastle Island off the waterfront of the British Columbia, Vancouver Island city of Nanaimo. It set the mood of the eagles and both CHAK CHAK and AQUILA are of eagle names.

As mentioned in the last installment the day after the birthday party was a day of goodbyes, farewells and departures. Clementine who had begun this adventure as part of the AQUILA crew was heading back to NE Washington and the beginning of her ‘Running Start’ education program. She was riding with our friend Mary who had come over and spent a couple of days cruising around with us. And thus it was Catherine & I steered our vessel away from Orcas Island and our flotilla of friendship vessels traveling with Richard who was single handing CHAK CHAK. Parting company, especially teenage daughter company, can bring on a touch of melancholy and the weather turning dark and rainy fit the mood. As it happened our late morning rounding Jones Island, another of the marine park islands, there was an available buoy. The tide would not be with us for a few hours and it proved to be a good time to tie off, take a rest, have lunch and brew a pot of steaming coffee pour in a liberal dose of Irish cream (we call it the milk of the sacred Irish cow). By the turn of the tide the rain had passed and the nap seemed to help the mood of the boat.

Our destination for the day was Reed Harbor on Stuart Island. This allowed me to steer a course along the souwestern side of Spieden Island. Spieden Island is not like other islands in the San Juan’s. While there are a few structures there is no permanent population although it is not a State Park. Back in the ‘70’s a group of wealthy investors stocked the island with exotic animals and tried to rename it ‘Safari Island’. They brought in bighorn or mouflon sheep from Corsica, and Sika deer from Asia, and fallow deer from Europe," They stocked it with hundreds of imported grazing animals and nearly 2,000 game birds from all over the world. Then those same investors charged hunters for the chance to bag everything from African Guinea fowl to Spanish goat, but environmentalists cried "unsportsmanlike conduct" and the safari quickly disappeared, though many of the animals have adapted and remain. Here is a link to view the mouflon sheep of Spieden Island: http://www.pbase.com/hkcliffy/image/53519389
The end of our day’s journey found both AQUILA & CHAK CHAK in Reed Harbor seeking either a mooring or a place to anchor overnight. Luck would have it we were scoping out the anchorage and circling a float dock when one of the folks on the dock hailed us. “We can move the boats a bit and make an opening here,” they told us indicating a space on the float dock. And that’s how we came to meet the Silva Bay Yacht Club. They had two member vessels depart just before our arrival and moments after hailing us they helped secure both CHAK CHAK & AQUILA onto the float where they still had four of their club boats moored. I can tell you this about the Silva Bay Yacht Club – they are great folk! If you look closely toward the left side of image #3 you’ll see the end of a picnic table. Our new Canadian friends had a small feast in progress, complete with wine and brews. We brought out a decanter of mead and a bowl of olives and almonds and fit right into their evening happy hour. When the commodore of the S.B.Y.C. saw that AQUILA was flying the flag of commodore he asked for the details and learned about the Rickey Point Sail Club of Lake Roosevelt. He was delighted to meet another commodore under way and soon presented me a burgee of the S.B.Y.C. (which is still hanging below decks on AQUILA’S bulkhead).
It’s a well known fact to boaters that not only does food and beverages taste better when savored on a boat but with reasonable effort at trimming a berth one sleeps better as well. Indeed, at home I am a 6 hour a night man. Especially during fire season. But get me on the boat, piloting out in the fresh air, dawn to dusk and I can ‘saw logs’ with the best of ‘em for ten+ hours a night. So it was no surprise that when the twilight turned to dark the float dock and surrounding anchored vessels all settled into their quiet night routines. In the morning, after a shore side hike, we parted company with our S.B.Y.C. friends but not before Catherine gifted them all with Stonerose fossils and brochures of our area. They were delighted. Our new destination was Bedwell Harbour or Poets Cove on South Pender Island to clear into Canada. Oh, yeah, and all that extra booze I mentioned in the last posting. It vanished overnight…
There is another historic lighthouse to be mentioned on this trip – the Turn Point Lighthouse on the northern tip of Stuart Island. http://www.lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=104
Turn Point marks the meeting of Haro Strait and Boundary Pass and is known for it’s tide rips. Anytime a substantial wind sets up against the flow of the tide conditions can get rough. On the day of our crossing there was, unfortunately, no wind. So we motored along across the tide rips.

Here’s a short story about the Turn Island Lighthouse: In 1893 the first head keeper of Turn Point Lighthouse was Ed Durgan, who was aided by assistant keeper Peter Nicholai “PN” Christiansen, a Norwegian. Each of the keepers was given one side of the two-story duplex to house their families. For transportation, a sailboat was built and delivered to the station, where it was kept inside a boathouse.
During the evening of February 16, 1897, repeated blasts of a ship’s whistle brought Durgan and Christiansen rushing out into the frigid winter night to find that the tug Enterprise had run aground on rocks near the station. Equipped with pike poles, the keepers plunged into the water and managed to free the tug and direct it to a safe moorage. The captain appeared to be the only person on board, until several drunken crew members were found to be below deck.
The sober captain informed the keepers that other crew members were drifting aboard a barge that the captain cut lose before running aground near the light. The barge was soon located, and its occupants were safely brought ashore through the use of a breeches buoy. To add to the excitement of the evening, one of the intoxicated sailors on the tug brandished a butcher knife and threatened his comrades. With some help, the captain was able to subdue the knife wielder, who was placed in a straight-jacket and locked up in the station’s hen house. For their rescue efforts, the keepers received special citations.
Later that afternoon CHAK CHAK & AQUILA made their way into Customs and cleared into Canada. Our friend Richard received free lessons from a seaplane pilot regarding the use of red striped dock areas but there wasn’t much else to be had for our group at the overly developed, condo-style accommodations of Poets Cove so with the day still young we untied the lines and headed back out to open water and a freshening breeze singing “Oh Canada” all the way…
There are times on a sail boat when the crew will choose to lolly about, maybe traveling a few miles between anchorages, if they travel at all that day. There are other times when a long term objective is set and the crew determinedly drives the vessel to that point. AQUILA had been doing quite a bit of ‘lollying about’ and we were mid month in September. We were leaning toward the drive side of things in that Catherine and I wanted to get north of Nanaimo to a small marine park island called Jedediah but at the same time we recognized that this was Richard’s first time cruising in the Gulf Islands. And we didn’t want to totally rush him through them. It was the afternoon breeze that really set our evenings anchorage. We were just on our approach to the Channel Islands south of Saltspring Island when we were able to set sail and shutdown our reliable but somewhat noisy Yanmar diesel engine. It is always a joy to silent the motor and hoist sail. CHAK CHAK followed suit but soon found himself having to dodge the super ferries of the Canadian Gulf Islands (see image #4). As it worked we had a good run up through Captain's Passage, across Trincomali Channel and into Montague Harbour where there were several vacant mooring buoys. Twas the darkside of evening twilight when Catherine & I rowed over to CHAK CHAK for dinner, refreshments and a good evening of conversations.
Another early morning found us under way. Our destination today being Nanaimo but to do so we had to pass Dodd Narrows, the inner most of the Gulf Island passages into the Strait of Georgia. Dodd Narrows, for a sailboat, is nothing to trifle with. Slack water between flood and ebb tide lasts only a short while and while is may be a bit easier running the pass with the tide it can be a real whitewater experience with standing waves and whirlpools. Slack water for this kid, thank you very much…
Photograph #5 is a vessel we caught up with under way. I liked the lines of this Alaskan boat and all it’s trimmings.
The dinette of AQUILA easily mounts in the cockpit which, while motoring makes a good place for meals or the occasional Scrabble or card game. Remember, travel on a sailboat happens about the same speed as a slow bicycle ride. There's plenty of time to watch the scenery, read a book, consult the charts, catch a catnap, or indulge in a game. When the weather is nice it is delightful pastime.
The next image is one Richard took of AQUILA in Northumberland Channel just after successfully navigating Dodd Narrows. And that my friend brings us into the downtown waterfront of Nanaimo. Before closing this segment I will say that this waterfront city on Vancouver Island is one of my favorite civilized stops. What makes this area special is Newcastle Island and Protection Island which form a sheltered bay across from the city waterfront. Allowing one a great view of the city without being right in the middle of it's congested traffic and noise.
It is here that the infamous, floating Dinghy Dock Pub is located but that’s part of the next chapter…

Farewell for now… Foster
Montague Harbour: http://www.montagueharbour.com/
Nanaimo: http://www.tourismnanaimo.com/
Dodd Narrows: http://www.greenwaysound.com/cruising.htm

Part 6: From The Dinghy Dock Pub to the Island Wilderness

We’ll jump right in and start this segment out with one of my favorite pubs; The Dinghy Dock Pub. Located on the eastern outskirts of Nanaimo Harbour, off Protection Island near Newcastle Island Marine Park, the floating Dinghy Dock Pub is one of the most unique establishments in the Pacific Northwest. In the past I have sailed right up to the finger docks of this floating wharf, tied off my lines to imbibe in lagers and eat seafood with the bow of my boat directly behind my head. Now that’s my kind of drive-up service! I have made a collage from photos I found on the inter-net pertaining to the Dinghy Dock Pub. Double click on this or any other photograph to see a larger view.
Our arrival in Nanaimo Harbour was in the early evening and Catherine & Richard both were duly impressed with the collection of various vessels anchored out in Mark Bay. Image #2 is a 50 foot, custom built, junk rigged, sailing vessel at anchor in this popular roadstead. There are several thousand boats in the greater Nanaimo area and literally near a hundred in this ever changing anchorage. One can see vessels ranging from multi-million dollar showcases to derelicts that appear to be near sinking.

The Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park is managed by the local First Nations tribe of the Snuneymuxw. The Snuneymuxw are a Coast Salish people who live on Vancouver Island and speak the Hul'qumi'num dialect. Prior to European contact the Snuneymuxw had many winter villages along the Nanaimo Harbour each one consisting of several longhouses. They maintain the park and collect the fees from moorage, visitors, shower facilities and the like. It was the hot showers that were in our focus after seeing to the boats.
For more info on Newcastle Island go to: http://www.newcastleisland.ca/

“Oops”… Our Snuneymuxw representative collecting the moorage fees told us. “Woman’s restroom vandalized. Must share shower in the men’s facility,” he told Catherine. “You be guard,” he told me. So we walked up the hill to the shower & restrooms. This time of evening and this late in the season there was no one else about. I checked the men’s facilities. Catherine, with a pocket full of ‘Loonies’ (Canadian $1 coins) was good to go. A few minutes later I heard her squeal and figured it was the job of her ‘guard’ to investigate and see what was up.

“No hot water,” she told me but she was already wet, soapy and determined to have a shower. Catherine doesn’t do well in a cold shower. In fact, as a fireman, I’m surprised at how scalding hot she can manage in the shower. No worries about her over-heating here. “I’m done,” she gasped, jumping out and into a fresh towel. She had left the water running for me and I was 'commando' ready & stepped right in.

“Brrr…” I thought, maybe, just maybe. I turned the water dials in the opposite direction. Hot water came bursting out of the shower head. Water so hot she could feel it through the thick, industrial shower curtain.

“You’ve got hot water?!?” she exclaimed.

“A little bit,” I lied.

“What gives?” she asked exasperated. And then it hit me. This was as far north as Catherine, a Texas born, West Coast girl had ever been.

“I forgot to tell you, once your north of the 49 parallel, halfway between the Equator and the North Pole the plumbing has to be reversed due to the Coriolis effect .”

“Wwwhat?” she asked.

Whilst showering in delightfully hot water I explained how water reacted to the shape of the earth, flushing counter-clockwise in the southern hemisphere and etc. Sometime during my dissertation she got dressed and left. Upon bumping into Richard awaiting his turn at the showers she told him of her lack of cold water.

“Yeah,” Richard said (he's a general contractor as well as city councilman, sailor and musician). "A lazy man’s plumbing where they have back to back units and don’t go through the trouble of switching the pipes." She was a little grumbly at my lack of sympathy and the fact that I had a very hot shower and had the nerve to feed her a line of BS. Oh well, some opportunities are too good to pass up… We did dinghy over to the Dinghy Dock Pub just as twilight was settling into dark. We had a good time, warm drinks, a fine meal and a First Nations fellow named Lawrence who was working there. Unfortunately it was ‘Comedy Night” in the main room and even though we were sitting on the deck, under the stars and right above the water, we could still hear what was passing for humor. Believe me it wasn’t. Oh well, you take the hand your dealt and in spite of loud and lewd on stage Richard and Catherine were still impressed with the ambiance of the Dinghy Dock Pub. And Lawrence came through. He was a much better comedian than the blokes on stage. Lawrence and our table exchanged witticisms through out our evening there. He loved the story of the Coriolis effect showers. As I mentioned we were sitting right over the saltwater and I had ordered a bucket of clams. So I simply hucked my empty shells over the rail.
"Where'd all your shells go?" Lawrence asked returning to our table.
"I ate them," I replied.
"Yeah. You look like the kinda' guy who could," Lawrence chirped back with a big toothy smile. He made our night.
Photograph #3 is the bow of our Newcastle Island dockside neighbor’s boat. A beautiful, sloop rigged sailing craft.
If you were to approach Catherine today and ask her what one thing she wished we had done more of on this trip I’m near certain she would say ‘tide-pooling’. Spending time exploring the micro-world of crabs, clams, sea stars, urchins, pebbles and beach combing. Catherine is seen here on a morning exploration of the tide flats off Newcastle Island.

Here’s a look at that small world she gets so absorbed in… Given her career as the manager of Stonerose Fossil Center it seems we always have fossils and unique rocks aboard. Cathy always keeps a loupe onboard (A loupe (pronounced loop), is a type of magnification device used to see things one is looking at more closely). And it is not at all uncommon to find her closely examining the finest details of a small shell or some other treasure from the saltchuck.

Speaking of finding small things, I feel a bit like were in Alice in Wonderland in this photograph by Catherine taken in Nanaimo’s waterfront park. This was our last morning with Richard and CHAK CHAK. The city of Mukilteo had a council meeting approaching and as a member thereof Richard was compelled to cut short his explorations of the Gulf Islands and head home. Of course heading home in a sail boat this far a field meant approximately a four day trip. We parted company in downtown Nanaimo. We had all rode the Newcastle Ferry to the city, Richard for an accurate Canadian tide table, Catherine and I for a few reasons, top of which was I wanted to go to West Marine and see if they could help me with this new GPS I had purchased in Anacortes (at WM of course). We said our farewells and good lucks on the walkway over looking the boat basin. Richard had the challenge of Dodd Narrows to hit accurately. He told us later he enjoyed anchoring near Dodd Narrows for nearly four hours given he missed the first slack of the day. This image of AQUILA & CHAK CHAK docked together is by Richard Emery.

Catherine and I heading up to the busy downtown street which appeared to have a lot of bus traffic on it. Or at least it did until we arrived there. To make a long story short – We called West Marine and wouldn’t you know it, they weren’t on the waterfront. In fact it was over five kilometers of city traffic to reach their store from our current location. Hmm, want to wait 45 minutes for the next bus (according to the posted schedule). Not us. And off we go into the wild blue Nanaimo. Haven’t been around traffic in a couple of weeks; haven’t walked very far on concrete in months. But we did it. An hour later we tromped (a bit sweaty – me) into West Marine only to find they couldn’t help us and since it was Sunday there was no one at Garmin to call for assistance. If we wanted to come back tomorrow??? There was no way either of us wanted to hike all the way back to the downtown waterfront and our feet agreed. So we found a bus stop. And we caught a bus. Wrong bus. And we caught another bus. But it went to a terminal that might have been downtown but not the part we needed to go. The driver took his fifteen minute break and when he pulled out it looked like we would be going where we wanted to go after all. NOT! By the time I got to the front of the now crowded bus we were mucho blocks away from our destination. I spoke with the driver and he told me to stay on this bus until the Country Club and then catch another downtown bus. Hmm… But I thought we had been on a downtown bus. Wrong bus. We sat there watching the suburbs of Nanaimo pass by and we were definitely out of place on the bus. We made the most of it, joking about the piloting the boat through storms but our apparent inability to navigate a municipal transportation system. All told we rode the Nanaimo bus system for over an hour. Anything that we thought we had wanted or needed in the city has faded from memory and we were ready to untie the lines and head out to open water. And that just what we did several hours later…

Just a few hours after the noise of buses faded, and the bustle of the waterfront city vanished Catherine is bundled up in the cockpit, under the dodger enjoying the late summer sunshine with no other boats in sight. ‘Take a deep breath and relax’ I kept telling myself as the buses of Nanaimo disappeared in our wake…

It was a beautiful, open water sail, close-hauled northwards with the sunshine filling the cockpit. AQUILA danced across the water and even without the use of the auto-helm she went over two hours without anyone touching the wheel. In this last photo of this segment by Catherine the old bull is piloting up Big Bull Passage on the approach to Jedediah Island Provincial Marine Park. A wonderful place I will tell you about in the next and 7th installment of AQUILA’S September 2009 Cruise…
Until then…

The Strait of Georgia is approximately twenty miles wide in this area NE of Nanaimo. The red hatch marks indicate AQUILA'S probable course. We made good thirty-five miles after leaving the harbour. Arriving at the anchorage of Deep Bay on Jedediah just in time to secure the boat before darkness fell. It was a good run...

Installment #7: Jedediah Island Marine Provincial Park

One of my favorite locations in the Strait of Georgia is Jedediah Island Marine Provincial Park located between Lasqueti and Texada islands. It is the largest and most diverse of a chain of more than 30 islands and rocky islets northwest of Lasqueti. Jedediah is home to a forest ecosystem with a variety of tree species, including Douglas fir, hemlock, cedar and arbutus. The vegetation grows throughout meadows, lowlands and rocky outcrops. Evidence human settlements are a homestead including the main house, shed and barn are located at Home Bay. Built around 1905 by the Foote Family, a reminder of a way of life once common along the BC Coast. A second house built in the 1980’s (pre park) still stands in Long Bay. A rich marine environment encircles Jedediah Island, which offers five secluded bays for safe harbour. But mariner beware, each of these bays have their weaknesses. A more detailed island map follows below.

In this photograph by Catherine Brown, the sailing vessel AQUILA finds not only safe haven but a secluded anchorage in Deep Bay with no other boats on this 2nd to last summer evening for 2009. While I have visited Jedediah numerous times this was the first trip for Catherine and the sailing vessel AQUILA.

Jedediah Island is part of a mild climate area centered in the southern Strait of Georgia and encompasses most of the Gulf Islands. This weather zone is influenced by the rainshadow effect of the Vancouver Island mountain ranges. In the summer, periods of drought and high temperatures are common, often lasting up to several weeks. Winters are typically rainy and mild receiving little or no snow.
Ever the beach comber and intrepid tide pool explorer Catherine, seen here perched on the portside gunnel of the dinghy, is delighted at her find in the Deep Bay anchorage off Jedediah…

A species of small fish that will eat right out of her hand…

These 'fry' who normally feed on shrimp larvae and other protozoa are the backbone of the food chain reaching up to the pollock, cod, herring, halibut and of course the salmon.

And speaking of species; when we look ashore the main mammal species occurring on Jedediah Island include black-tailed deer, raccoons, mink, river otter, mice, shrew, and voles. “Black-tailed deer,” as stated in the B.C. Ministry of Environment guide, “due to the absence of predators or hunting, may become numerous enough to have an adverse impact on the island's vegetation.” Hmm… Me thinks the 50+ sheep and 20 or so feral goats may have cornered that market. Again according to B.C. Ministry of Environment guide “The goats may be a unique breed. Former resident Al Palmer believes the goats were dropped off by the Spaniards during very early periods of exploration. Other Gulf Islands such as Saltspring, Galiano and Saturna have goat populations which were introduced as early as 1890.” An Ochre Sea Star being attacked by a Sun Star, these competing echinoderms are typical of the starfish or sea stars found in the Pacific NW.

Here is a cool link to everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Phylum Echinodermata
Sea Stars, Brittle Stars, Sea Cucumbers, Sea Urchins, Sand Dollars, and Feather Stars: http://www.northwestwildlifeonline.com/Echinoderms.htm

On the last day of summer other vessels began arriving in Deep Bay of Jedediah and an anchoring fiasco started to develop. As much fun as it might have been to stay and watch the pecking order establish itself we exercised our prerogative as first boat and a properly anchored boat at that and continued with our plans for the day which were to circumnavigate Jedediah in our WM Zodiac dinghy. In terms of boats, our motor dinghy is a get-up-&-go vessel compared to her mother ship. The 8hp Merc outboard will ‘plane’ the dinghy with both Catherine and I aboard. So where AQUILA has a top motoring hull speed of 6mph, EAGLET (the dinghy) will do 15 mph. Although that burst of extra speed doesn’t come into play in this chapter it was a good time to record such data. In this photo by Catherine yours truly pilots EAGLET on the beginning of our day trip. We took our time traveling around the island. Sabine Channel had two foot, white capped wind waves running the length of it’s long fetch and we enjoyed reaching the point to shelter inside a shoulder of the island and visit with the seals.
“Yes Virginia, there is a Mother Goose Island…” And it’s located adjacent to Jedediah. Although I can’t tell you why the island is thus named (maybe one of the FIREWATER blog readers can). It’s rocky outcropped shoreline is part of the protection forming Home Bay (double click the image to see a larger version). This is a good point to offer a bit of history regarding Jedediah Island. This island is within the traditional territory of the Sliammon First Nation. The Sliammon people are part of the northern Coast Salish cultural group, and part of the Salishan linguistic group. Over the course of time and settlement Jedediah Island came to be privately owned. How it transferred from private landholding to a Provincial Marine Park follows: Albert and Mary Palmer farmed the island up to their decision in 1994 to sell. They offered it to the Province at a price well below market value in hope that the BC Government would purchase the property and designate the island a provincial park. While the government acknowledged an interest in Jedediah, they were unable to fund the entire 4.2 million dollar purchase. The Friends of Jedediah, an organization of citizens from Lasqueti Island, learned of the sale and became committed to seeing Jedediah protected as a provincial park. During the summer of 1994, they campaigned to lobby the provincial government and solicit private and corporate donations to purchase the island. A $1.1 million dollar donation came from the estate of Dan Culver, a BC resident who had died in 1993 while descending K2, the world's second highest mountain. Mr. Culver was the only Canadian in history to reach the summits of both Everest and K2. He had dedicated his climbs to the preservation of wilderness and in his will, had bequeathed that a portion of his estate be used to set aside an ecologically valuable coastal property in a protected and undeveloped state for the people of British Columbia. There is a plaque near the Home Bay homestead honoring Mr. Culver. Jedediah Island was officially established as a Class A Provincial Park in March of 1995.

A photograph of the homestead on the northern shore of Home Bay, Jedediah Island.

Little Bull Passage, between Bull Island & Jedediah Island is a rugged, seascape of tidal waters and steep cliffs. We timed our exploration to be against these south facing rocks during the height of the sun on the last day of summer 2009. Our reward was a warm sunny afternoon. As the tide was an incoming flood we killed the motor of the zodiac and gripping the rough rock surface of the cliffs we sort of pulled ourselves along scoping out the interface of marine life and drying rock.

In this image we see a islet in Little Bull Passage covered in mussels. The orange billed birds working this feeding field are Oystercatchers, their long orange or red bills are used to smash or pry open limpets, mussels, gastropos and other molluscs.

Here is the newer of the abandoned structures on the island. This one located in Long Bay which is a very shallow body of water on the inside or western shore of Jedediah.

While Catherine went off to photograph the wild goats of the island I remained in the dinghy enjoying a quiet and still moment in this wonderful marine park. She snapped this picture of me drifting carefree in the shallows of Long Bay.

I'll close this 7th segment of the AQUILA 2009 Cruise with this interesting look at the dynamics of anchoring in a small, deep bay. To give the attached photo collage context I'll mention one point I didn't note in the text embedded on the collage. When I sat in the dinghy and spoke with the 2nd to arrive vessel, who decided to anchor contrary of the customary cross bay pattern, he told me that he'd seen conditions where the northwesterly winds would blow into this anchorage and force the boats anchored like AQUILA into the rock walls. Thus he said he anchored facing out of the bay, to take the potential wind and waves on his bow. A little later as he was on that bow talking anchoring with the third boat to arrive I asked his wife if they had heard the weather. "Oh yes," she replied, "mild norwesterlie winds shifting to southerly tonight."
Hmm... I thought, so much for potential wind and waves...
Jedediah Island Marine Provincial Park: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/jedediah_is/

Welcome to the Sliammon First Nation: http://www.sliammonfirstnation.com/
Dan Culver Follow Your Dream Foundation: http://www.followyourdreams.ca/
And for all my sea kayaking friends: http://www.bcseakayak.com/jedediah-tour.html

The 8th Chapter of the '09 AQUILA Cruise...

Hauling South Into the Gulf Islands and a Great Canadian Encounter...
Lets start this 8th segment of the '09 AQUILA Cruise out with some sailing. Tis the first full day of autumn and Aquila is again close-hauled across the Strait of Georgia. This was a great day on the open water of the straits. Catherine is deep in her book "Light on the Island". The boat is tuned in and I'm enjoying just being on the water. To see a short sailing video from this day go to: http://www.youtube.com/user/Fosterfanning?gl=CA&hl=en#p/a/u/0/csqjnC7zdXE
We departed Jedediah Island fairly early in the morning, realizing the anchorage in Deep Bay was as far north as we would get on this cruise. There are so many other great places I'd like to take Catherine but the Solstice had passed and the plan was to haul the boat on the first of October. I didn't want to be in a rush on our return trip so south we turned her bow and as the winds of fate blew upon us, I am glad we did.
As can be seen in the attached photographs the early autumn weather was near perfect. In this picture the near land is the southern Upwood Point of Texada Island with mainland British Columbia as the backdrop. The area is known as The Sunshine Coast and is a beautiful portion of the lower Inside Passage to cruise.

I had to edit these pictures together to illustrate a most unusual cloud development formation which occurred while we were under way this early autumn day. Check out how the clouds build over these islands through the following pictures. Then the clouds bluffed out making strange formations. While they may be more common than I think, I certainly hadn't seen anything like it when cruising this area before.
Here' a picture Catherine caught of me intensely focused on piloting AQUILA though a somewhat rocky maze into Silva Bay. Let me take you back to Installment #5 North to Nanaimo and the meeting with the Silva Bay Yacht Club. As it worked out we sought out their docks to take Commodore Sorrenti up on his offer of visiting their docks "if ever we were in their area". Indeed we were and we did. As it worked out it was a fateful experience for AQUILA and her crew. Unfortunately we did not get to see the good commodore or any of the other members of the club but there was another visiting boat there, the older sister of our boat. Eric and Cathy were guests at the Silva Bay Yacht Club on their sailing vessel the MAGGIE K. When I say "older sister" I mean that MAGGIE K is an S-2 like our own boat but she is a 35 footer. And a beautiful craft as well. We were invited aboard by Eric & Cathy and ended up spending three nights in their company. But the best was yet to come...
The Silva Bay Yacht Club: http://www.silvabayyachtclub.com/

Here's Catherine in the early morning light, freshly showered, with a mug of steaming hot coffee in hand, checking out the chart book and confirming my piloting through the isletts outside Silva Bay. We were enroute for the slack waters of Gabrolia Pass.

And here is the sailing vessel MAGGIE K steaming along on a fine early autumn morning bound as well for Gabrolia Pass. We had made arrangements with Eric & Cathy to catch up with them again on the evening of this new day if there was room in Canover Cove on Wallace Island.
Catherine contemplating one of my favorite spots - the cliffs of Valdes Island. Rising vertical out of the salty waters these cliffs are fascinating.
Home to abundant wildlife, and flora these lichen faces vertical rises are sculpted works of art shaped by the tectonic collision forces millions of years ago and eroded into their current shape. I hope to someday kayak their base end to end. For now we made due with bringing AQUILA to a stop on this calm day and admiring the landmass in front of us...

For more info on Valdes Island: http://www.vancouverisland.com/Regions/towns/?townID=4115
A mid-morning break at the cliffs of Valdes and we were ready to be underway. Our friends on the vessel MAGGIE K had long since vanished into the maze of the Gulf Islands by the time we continued onward...

"A sailor’s joys are as simple as a child’s."
- Bernard Moitessier

Onward indeed toward one of our favorite destinations in the Gulf Islands, The British Columbia Marine Provincial Park of Wallace Island and Canover Cove. And I'll tell you this much about the next upcoming segment. Our arrival was nothing short of a delightful event is several differing ways. See you then...

Chapter #9 Wallace Island, Canover Cove...

As I mentioned in the closing of the last chapter, there was a delightful surprise awaiting us in Conover Cove, one of the most popular destinations of the Gulf Island. But before we go there I want to open this chapter with a look at the indigenous people of this area as represented by this artwork I photographed on the Alaska-Marine Highway.
The Hul'qumi'num people of southeastern Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and the lower Fraser River are made up of six First Nations: Cowichan, Chemainus, Penelakut, Lyackson, Halalt and Lake Cowichan. They are a Coast Salish people who have lived in, travelled and fished the waterways of the Strait of Georgia and the lower Fraser River for thousands of years. The way of life for the Hul'qumi'num people is rooted in the land. Traditionally, extended families lived together in longhouses. Settled in many villages with populations between one hundred and several thousand people. Each longhouse sheltered extended families, including grandparents and other relatives, all of whom had their own designated space. The Northwest Coast is rich in Salish ancestors' heritage. Over 1,000 archaeological heritage sites have been recorded on southeastern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands some date back over 5,000 years, contemporary to the Old Kingdom of Egypt. Many other heritage sites have not yet been dated or recorded.

As I have mentioned in previous chapters, this September was the busiest I've seen since I started cruising these waters in my own boat in 1995. As we cruised southward along Wallace Island we looked into the other anchorages and they were pretty full of boats. That didn't bode well for finding an open slot in the popular Conover Cove further south on the island. This is where that surprise comes in. On the final approach to Conover Cove we noted a motorboat go into the anchorage, apparently look around and come out. As that vessel departed we drew near enough to the point we could see into the cove. There on the leading edge of the small marine park dock was the MAGGIE K, but no other dock space available. I had just started considering where to anchor when Eric hailed us from his boat. The motorboat directly behind MAGGIE K was leaving and sure enough a few moments later we had AQUILA portside tied to the Wallace Island, Conover Cove, Provincial Marine Park dock. Indeed a good stroke of luck.

Image #3 shows the MAGGIE K & AQUILA on the outside of the dock with three other sailboats in the inside. It made for a very nice, cozy neighborhood.

Remember to double click on an image to see a larger version. You can right-click to "Save Picture As". All FIREWATER photos are copywrite but you are welcome to save & use for non comericial applications if credit is given.

Wallace Island Marine Provincial Park is only accessible by boat. The park lies in Trincomali Channel between Galiano Island and the northern tip of Saltspring Island, off southern Vancouver Island.

A bit of local history: after World War II, David Conover purchased the island and moved here with his wife Jeanne. The couple developed a successful holiday resort and Conover became a successful author, writing four books - “Once Upon An Island”, “One Man’s Island”, "Sitting On A Saltspring" and "Finding Marilyn, A Resource". In the first two books he described the couple’s struggles and joys after their purchase of the land in 1946. Their resort, the Royal Cedar Cottages, was advertised as having "a modern well-stocked store, cabins, recreation hall and boat rentals." In the mid to late 1960's, Conover sold the majority of the island to a group from Seattle. Disagreements among the owners led to litigation and the property was again came up for sale. Wallace Island was purchased through a court ordered sale and became a provincial marine park in 1990 through the cooperative efforts of local activists, the provincial government and BC Marine Parks Forever.
The S/V AQUILA carries a copy of 'Once Upon an Island', which both Catherine & I have read.

Given that you've been introduced to the local history its now time to meet some of the locals. Photograph #4 is just one such family. A momma and her three kits. Did you know that Vancouver Island and it's environs have their own subspecies of raccoon? 'Procyon lotor vancouverensis' being 'island locked' is somewhat smaller than it's mainland cousin. And believe me that take advantage of their 'slighter' size. Momma and her kits were out for a late afternoon walk, stretching their legs, practicing their sprints and probably mimicking unbuttoning sunbrilla covers. For when darkness fell they were on the prowl at one of the most prosperous hunting grounds - the Conover Cove docks. These procyons are not shy. They will board a boat with sleeping dogs nearby. And their not slow. Eric tells the story of sitting about on this very same dock and playing music into the night. One musician heard a noise, looked up and saw a raccoon climb out his boat's forward hatch with a full sized, foil-bag, loaf of garlic bread. The barefoot boat owner broke into a sprint down the dock yelling at the coon. But human was too slow and the raccoon family had garlic bread with their pasta that night. And indeed they boarded us all on our first night dockside in Conover. In fact Catherine awoke to a noise looked out the screen covered, open portal above our berth and saw a very young raccoon staring back at her. She drew in a big breath and blew right in it's fuzzy face. You could hear the claws clicking across the fiberglass as that young critter dashed off the boat after seeing the monsters who lived inside. We were laying in the berth laughing out loud. AQUILA was shut tight against such a midnight boarding party. Although a nearby motorboat wasn't. The coons managed to get inside his enclosed cockpit, climbed the ladder to the fly-bridge and found a very old bucket of rotted bait. What a pleasant surprise to waken too. We could hear the yells of the owner and the barking of the miniature poodle and the giggles of the departing raccoons all at the same time.
But before all the animal antics began we could be found at the Conover Cove dock picnic table with our friends Eric & Cathy as they picked and sung their way through a number of folk songs.
Later in the evening we were joined by another guitarist who brought a different flare to the jam. But it was the crew of MAGGIE K who held the night on the docks, in the depths of the Gulf Islands under the early autumn stars.

We awoke the next morning with smiles. Our heads still full of the soft melodies of good homegrown music. A shared chuckle or
two regarding our furry visitors and well refreshed from a long, gentle rocking sleep. A fresh breeze was easing in from the norwest but the day held the promise of sunshine. Lots of it. We had barely finished brunch and the beginning of another Scrabble game when Catherine decided it was time to rig the Walker Bay dinghy for sailing. It took her a couple of passes to get the feel of it but a few moments later she was out the gate, through the entrance to our cove and into the channel beyond. I followed along in the Eaglet and caught these pics of her sailing in fine form.
Our friend Cathy is a paddler with a kayak carried aboard MAGGIE K. Catherine offered to let her take the sailing dinghy out and Cathy was all for it. Here's a photograph Catherine caught of Cathy at the helm.
Sailing aside, the Scrabble game finished, a salmon and bree cheese lunch washed down with crisp white wine and we were ready for some landbased adventures. There are several miles of hiking trails on the island and the sculpted sandstone shoreline makes very interesting bouldering, especially at low tide. This was not our first visit to Wallace Island or Conover Cove. In fact when the S/V AQUILA first visited this island in early April of 2006 we had left our vessel name plaque along with hundreds of others in an old cabin remaining from the Royal Cedar Cottages Resort of the Conover days. See image below.

This old cabin is roughly 20' X 20' in size and literally chock full of boat name plaques, memorabilia, homegrown art & craft work, notes-in-bottles, carved planks and shells, all rather haphazardly tied, nailed, tacked, wedged and strewn about. It is pretty interesting to wander through reading the various bits of this & that. Occasionally we find the names of some acquaintances vessels (we've rehung one that had fallen to the crowded floor). Our AQUILA plaque is representative of some of the hundreds in the cabin. The oldest we found was from a drilling barge that was anchored nearby in 1945. If you ever get to Wallace Island this is one sight you don't want to miss...

In photograph 10 Catherine is seen holding a couple of gull feathers and perched inside the old goat pen. This stacked rock and cedar topped relic is part of the old complex of cabins and structures left over from days gone by.

And speaking of 'days gone by' check out my new wheels, at least what hasn't vanished into the mire below this old truck. There's probably hundreds of photos of yokels like yours truly who have climbed behind this wheel for a mug-shot. Come to think of it as popular as this anchorage is I'd bet more folks have sat in this rig since it's become a relic as had ever done so when it was a working truck. Just a reminder of that old Steve Miller song, "Time keeps on ticking into the future"...

Our second night of music with Eric & Cathy took place below decks to avoid that cool northerly that had kicked up again that evening. Being in the shelter of MAGGIE K's cozy cabin allowed Eric to bring our the dobro and add a whole different flavor to this night's music. Catherine and I were quite honored to be guests on MAGGIE K three nights in a row. Thank you Eric & Cathy!

I'll close this 9th installment with a photo near & dear to my heart. Not because it reflects such fine evenings in Conover Cove, which it does; and not because it is such a fine photo (its okay). Nope this photograph is special to me in that it is the last bottle of my cousin Larry & Jane Pearson - Spilya Cellars, Mountain House White, from their Taptiel Vineyard. For more info and great wine go to: http://tapteil.com/

S.O.S. to Tapteil - "H.e.y-c.o.u.s.i.n.s-c.o.m.e-s.a.i.l.i.n.g- B.r.i.n.g-w.i.n.e"...
Chapter 10: Ganges Harbour, Village & Market...

Ganges is the largest village on Saltspring Island. Tis also the business centre and, according to some, the hub of the Gulf Islands. I've made it a point to sail into this fine harbour during each of a dozen or more trips I've made into the Gulf Islands. Ganges Harbour provides a good anchorage for boaters wishing to explore the village. The town of Ganges is located on the east shore of Saltspring Island, at the head of a long natural harbor bounded by rocky islets. Keep a lookout for crab buoys, bustling boat traffic and the numerous seaplanes landing, taxiing & taking off as you approach from the south. The anchorage is very busy and crowded in summer, and if a southerly breeze kicks up in the afternoon mariners beware. The 1st photograph is the S/V AQUILA at anchor in Ganges Harbour on a late September day.

In this Robin Thom aerial image we see the southern approach to Ganges Harbour with the Three Sisters Islands in the foreground and Ganges in the back. Ganges and indeed Saltspring Island has a diverse and interesting history. The village was named after HMS Ganges, the flagship of the Royal Navy's Pacific Station between 1857 and 1860. Built in 1821 HMS Ganges was an 84-gun ship of 2,284 tons, carrying a crew of nearly 800, and is reported to be the last British sailing warship commissioned for duty in foreign waters.

This is an image Catherine caught of a wanderer in Ganges waterfront park. Because the village is built on Grace Point there are three distinct waterfront portions to the town.

Catherine enjoying part of the vast selection of used books at a waterfront shop in Ganges. We purchased books by local writers as well as a Ken Kesey novel and a couple of hard to find charts.

Continuing with the history of this fascinating island community; the Tsawout Band of the Salish First Nations still has holdings on the south coast portion of Saltspring Island. European exploration of the island began with the Spanish and British in the 18th century. Settlement started in the 1850’s by pioneers from the B.C. mainland. What may come as a surprise to some is that these early settlers were joined by groups of freed slaves who emigrated to Canada and Saltspring Island after leaving the United States. At that time Canada and particularly British Columbia was seen as a land of freedom and of opportunity for many blacks. In 1858, blacks from the United States were formally invited by British Columbia Governor James Douglas to take up land in the new colony. In the States, many blacks were denied rights such as citizenship rights, suffrage rights, and the right to homestead land, and they saw British Columbia as a place of freedom. Upon welcoming black settlers to Saltspring Island, James Douglas distributed land to the new settlers, allowed new black citizens the right to vote, and allowed black male citizens to become part of the local militia.
Saltspring Island today is home to artists, farmers, craftfolk, retirees, and vacationers who visit the island by B.C. ferry, private boat, and floatplane to enjoy a laid-back lifestyle in natural beauty.
Here Cathy is playing the role of "vacationer" and enjoying a late afternoon Irish coffee and pastry at the Treehouse Cafe' in Ganges.

This is a busy little town, at least in the fair weather part of the year. The streets are abuzz with pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. The marinas, restaurants, bakeries, craft stores and a multitude of quaint shops all do a brisk trade during 'on' season. An AQUILA crew favorite is the Treehouse Café, a mostly outdoor venue serving lunch, dinner and evening music.

This is another photograph of the Treehouse Cafe', this time after dark. We stopped in this evening for refreshments and to listen to a solo guitarist, singer, songwriter providing the evening entertainment.

This dawn, on the 26th of September was a beautiful, still morning. AQUILA has a small but very efficient wood burning stove/fireplace which I lit upon arising. As the warmth filled the cabin and while the water for the French press coffee boiled this photograph found it's way into the camera. We would be departing Ganges Harbour later this morning but first our mission ashore was to visit the celebrated Ganges Saturday Market.

What’s so special about the Ganges Market? It has an advertised and enforced HOMESPUN GUARANTEE ensuring all vendors "make it, bake it, or grow it" themselves, and all products must be "vendor produced and sold". This is the mandate which provides the essence of the special market in this unique waterfront Gulf Island village. Here is a collage of some of the photographs I took that morning while visiting the market.

We'll close this 10th installment of our visit to Ganges Harbour, Village and Market with this photograph Catherine shot on our way out of the anchorage. A local sailing vessel bedecked in colorful flags. And speaking of flags. Our next destination is Roche Harbor in the San Juan Islands, where we will clear U.S. Customs back into the United States and take in the renown sunset flag ceremony of Roche Harbor.
See you there...
Saltspring Island Saturday Market: http://www.saltspringmarket.com/
Chapter 11: Welcome back to the U.S. of A. Roche Harbour

That beautiful dawn over Ganges Harbour gave way to a brisk norwesterly breeze and with our visit to the market wrapped up the sailing vessel AQUILA hauled the anchor and set sail for the United States, more specifically the Customs & Immigration dock in Roche Harbour on San Juan Island. It was a delightful, if rollicky, downwind sail out of Canada. From AQUILA'S boat journal: "1144:hours, Saturday 09.26.09; 60* in the sunshine; winds NW 10 to 12 knots; tracking 128* out of Ganges Hbr. toward Channel Islands. Love the sound of wind waves lapping the hull & the play of sunlight as the vessel pitches & yaws to wind & wave. Tis a fine way to depart the nautical island village of Ganges."
We'll pick it up on this map format again; back in the San Juans'. Given we are in-bound from Canada, we are not allowed to anchor or have contact with other vessels in United States waters until clearing customs, thus our destination Roche Harbor. But given that we have to visit Roche the plan is to take in a sight neither Cathy or I have seen - the "Colors Ceremony"

From the Roche Harbor brochure:

"Each evening at Roche Harbor, a very special ceremony takes place just before sunset. "The Colors Ceremony" is a nightly tradition throughout the summer season is highly revered by all who work at — and visit — Roche Harbor.
The Retirement of the Colors can be viewed and heard from almost anywhere in the harbor. The ceremony is taken very seriously by our employees and has been a tradition at Roche Harbor since the summer of 1957. It is a non-military ceremony formulated by the late Reuben J. Tarte who bought the property in 1956."
Here is an aerial view of Roche Harbor from a stock photo I found on-line. The harbor is on San Juan Island. Orcas Island is in the background and if one looks closely Mount Baker is visible in this image in the distance.

For my good friend Wheeler (boat builder & boat follower) whose family built a cabin on the west side of Pearl Island, I've included this chart copy. As can be seen on this chart, Pearl is one of the primary islands guarding Roche Harbor from wind, waves and tidal currents.
I placed the red X on the chart to illustrate the location of the Rocha Harbor Marina. AQUILA anchored off a bit to the west of the X.

Catherine caught this image (and some video) of the Colors Ceremony.

A little history here:

Haro Strait, the body of water dividing the United States from the Canadian, Vancouver Island, derives its name from this Spanish explorer, Captain de Haro, who led one of the first European explorations of the San Juan Islands in 1787. Fast forward to 1845, four years before the California Gold Rush, the Canadian based Hudson's Bay Company posted a notice of possession on San Juan Island, and built a log trading post at the head of Roche Harbor on the northwest shoulder of the island. This didn't necessarily sit well with the American traders & settlers moving west. By 1857, three years before the first shots of the Civil War, both the government of the United States & that of Canada, were claiming the San Juan Islands as property. A little known 13 year dispute arose over the western end of the boundary between British and American territory. Fortunately the dispute lay dormant during the Civil War, but by 1871 the United States and Great Britain selected Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm to arbitrate the dispute. In 1872, Wilhelm awarded possession of the San Juan Islands to the United States. The dispute is commonly referred to as THE PIG WAR. For more info go to: http://www.nps.gov/archive/sajh/pig_war_new.htm

Okay, back to the now (or a bit closer to it)... Catherine in the gardens of the marina with Hotel de Haro as the backdrop. We were hanging out awaiting the 'Colors Ceremony".

The old lime kilns of Roche Harbor: Photo by Catherine Brown:

These great, continuous feed kilns which look so rustic now were "state of the art" in their time and replaced older far less efficient beehive style kilns. Following the destruction by the San Francisco 1906 earthquake and resulting fires; much of the city was rebuilt using mortar and concrete produced from Roche Harbor lime. The kilns are built of layers of masonry brick work, native stone, and massive logs. Backed by a tall cliff these great furnaces were loaded from the top, eventually spilling out the refined lime from metal hoppers which can still be seen inside the lower vaulted chambers.

Here's a complete view of one of the two large, standing kilns.
Producing lime was no easy task in the early 1900s. Additionally the industry had a profound effect on San Juan Island and it's environment. The kilns were wood fired hot enough to evaporate off the water from the raw, crushed lime. Some workers of the time described the kilns as "hotter than the fires of hell" as the temperatures reached nearly 2,000 degrees, day & night, for 11 months of the year. Cutting kiln fire wood resulted in vast sections of the forested islands being clearcut. The resulting erosion stripped soils from the uplands, the wetlands filled, and productive shellfisheries lost. Fortunately nature has a way of healing her wounds and today the forests are returning, some bays have abundant shellfish, and the uplands support vital plant environs.
Gardens, gardens everywhere and quite enjoyable to stroll through.
Catherine in the gardens of Hotel de Haro.

One of the walks we took this trip was new to us both. Catherine guided us to the Westcott Bay Reserve Sculpture Park. Which is where I caught this image of the sea otters playing before the pond.

Cathy Lou on a carved bench in the Westcott Reserve Sculpture Park. From their website: "The Sculpture Park at Westcott Bay Reserve is a nineteen-acre microcosm of the San Juan ecology: forests, meadows, freshwater wetlands, saltwater wetlands, and rocky outcroppings. The trails throughout the Reserve are interspersed with interpretative displays about nature and a rotating exhibit of over 100 sculptures, creating an outdoor museum for all ages. Sculptures include works in bronze, stone, wood, metal, glass and ceramic by noted artists from the Pacific Northwest."

I have to say, while our photos are good they don't come close to doing justice to these amazing works of art. This 'Otter with Frogs" is over four feet in length, three feet tall and a fantastic piece of work. If ever you visit Roche Harbor I certainly suggest setting aside a couple of hours for a walk in this most interesting park.

I'll close with this image by Catherine Brown...
The next chapter or 12th installment will be the last of this 2009 AQUILA Cruise. Even in looking forward to bringing this phase of the FIREWATER blog to a close I'll admit it has been a fun project to undertake. So...
Keep a weather eye peeled for that last & final piece of the tale...

Westcott Bay Reserve Sculpture Park: http://www.wbay.org/

If you'd like to know more about this general area go to:
Roche Harbor Marina: http://www.rocheharbor.com/

Chapter 12 Sailing to the end of the 2009 Cruise...
The first image of this last series of the 2009 AQUILA Cruise is Catherine in the sunset from Jones Island Marine Park in the San Juan Islands. Moments before this photograph we stood on these bluffs overlooking the saltwaters and watched dolphins swim by. But first, lets pick up where we left off last installment...

Leaving Roche Harbor astern we set sail in a light NW breeze. Our departure was in the late afternoon following our stroll through the Westcott Bay Reserve. Our 2009 cruise was drawing to closure with only three nights remaining before hauling the boat and prepping her for the trailer haul over the Cascades. This map roughly shows our course from Roche Harbor to the first "X" where we spent the night on a buoy on Jones Island. The next "X" is where we spent the night on the dock at James Island Marine Park and the final phase of the journey routes us into the port of Anacortes.

From the comments received I know that many FIREWATER blog readers have not traveled upon, nor navigated a small boat through the islands. Nothing fancy on AQUILA. Here is a photo of her helm station, located in the cockpit, just aft of the dodger. A basic binnacle with instruments showing water depth, vessel speed, a handheld GPS with a quick mount, a microphone capable of controlling the VHF radio mounted in the navigation station below decks. Note the paper chart folded forward of the covered compass. Nothing like a good old paper chart to plot the navigation on.
When we arrived at Jones Island the norwesterly wind had shifted to NE and a wind wave pattern was rolling into the anchorage. That made all of the buoys available as it appeared no one else wanted to spend the night in the roll of the waves. No problem for us as AQUILA is a stable vessel and tends to keep her nose to the wind. We hiked across the island to the western shore and took these photos of the sun setting across the Canadian Gulf Islands. It was a fine early autumn evening and along with the sunset we checked out the dolphins, the seals, gulls and eagles.
While we knew the voyage was coming to a close, we were in no hurry for it to do so. Thus when the next day dawned chill with a light northerly breeze we motorsailed under the genoa and I let the auto-pilot do the steering as I sheltered under the dodger and alternated between navigating the islands, enjoying the scenery and reading the Ken Kesey book I had purchased at the used bookstore in Ganges. Catherine was engaged in much of the same below decks occasionally passing up warm coffee and soup to ward off the chill.
By the end of the day our sailing efforts paid off and we found the ever-popular dock of the James Island Marine Park not only available but empty. In fact a hike across the island and peek into the other anchorage showed we had the entire island park to our selves. That is rare, although with the forecast for cold & windy conditions it was apparent the weather had most certainly changed from a fair and sunny autumn to a chill and blustery one. No problem. We enjoyed our very quiet time on the island dock. Quiet that is until the westerly winds howled into the anchorage. Still AQUILA is a snug little vessel and we were enjoying a game of Scrabble and listening to an XM jazz channel on the radio.
We had initially thought to stay on James Island for two nights and we were listening to the weather every few hours on the VHF to see what the conditions for crossing Rosario Strait would be like in the morning compared to this 2nd afternoon we were on the island. The winds abated and the rain eased while we were out rowing about in our rain gear. When the late afternoon sun broke through the clouds and Catherine turned to me and said, "We should go now." That's all it took. We had spent the better part of this month together working the boat, listening to the weather, planning the tidal passages and being in tune with one another. I knew her reasoning as soon as she said it. And I readily went with her suggestion.
Here's a photograph Catherine took as I readied the boat for the crossing of Rosario Strait and the route into Anacortes. I knew due to the tide and late hour of our departure we would end up making a night run up Guemes Channel between Fildalgo & Guemes island. No problem with that either. We are both veterans of night piloting and boat handling.
Another of Catherine's photos of me at the helm and running east with a westerly storm brewing. Lopez Island is falling astern with the setting sun but Rosario Strait is flat and fairly calm. So all we had to do now is beat the tides, dodge the ferries, out maneuver the tug boats, run the buoys and do it all in the falling darkness. Cool...
I snapped this rather 'moody' image of the westerly storm cell gaining on us. There was not enough wind to sail and we had the little 18hp Yanmar diesel cranking about 2,800rpm to scoot us across the strait.

Well we made it across and into the marina in the dark of night. It was a good feeling to tie to our assigned dock space in Cap Sante Boat Haven and sleep soundly. Our plans held for the recovery of AQUILA out of the saltwaters and back onto her trailer. It took another full 24 hours, with us sleeping onboard another night in the boat yard, for the vessel to be road ready.
Seems like we started this series of blog posts out, about 12 installments ago, with one of my over-worked sayings... "It takes a lot of work to have this much fun." And that was our mantra that final day in Anacortes as we lowered the mast, stowed the gear, hauled the sails needing repair to the sail loft, returned some gear to West Marine, fixed the trailer lights, checked tire pressures, double checked hitches & chains, tied up the wide load signs, cinched down straps, and generally enjoyed working on chill, damp autumn day getting ready to haul a 30 foot sailboat over the Cascade Mountain Range. Another Catherine Brown photograph as we climb Stevens Pass.
I had initially thought that the above photo of AQUILA, now a 'trailer hulk' being hauled over the mountains would end this series but then I realized there was one missing element. The 'credits' if you will. So while the music plays and the other viewers leave the theater I invite you to one more look at the cast of characters in this story. Double click the image for a larger view and...
Thanks for following along.

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