Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Back On Board

Since we last wrote, we've sailed from Eagle Harbor on Bainbridge Island to Ganges Harbor on Salt Spring Island.  When your average speed is 2 knots, that's pretty far!  We made a few interesting stops along the way, in some of our old favorite places.  After a brief stay in Port Townsend, we headed out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  We've heard it can get a bit rough out there, but have yet to see it that way.  On the day we left, the forecast was for 15-20 knots of westerly breeze, which would have been wonderful, exciting, fast sailing.  However, once again, there was very little wind, and we relied mostly on the strong tidal currents to carry us where we wanted to go. 

This is mostly what our crossing looked like.  I had prepared for a chilly, windy day, but spent it reading, checking out other boats, and sunning myself.  

Our new wind-steering vane, Mr. Vee, did some of the steering, but struggles when the wind dies, just like we do. 

The horizon, looking towards the Pacific...  

We managed to catch the flood tide through Cattle Pass, (a narrow pass between the southern ends of Lopez and San Juan Islands) which is one way to enter the San Juan Island archipelago.  Finally, we had a bit of wind, and finished our long day with a really lovely bit of sailing all the way to Indian Cove, on Shaw, our favorite San Juan Island.  

We spent a relatively calm night at Indian Cove, but the next morning, we had a bit more wind than we liked blowing into the anchorage, so we raised sail and headed to a more protected spot, Blind Bay, on the north side of the island.  

We spent two relaxing days in Blind Bay, going on long walks around the island, picking a few berries, nettles for tea, and doing a bit of work on the boat.    

We like nettle tea mixed with lemonade, but hold the aphids, please.  

Doing a bit of splicing.  We also scrubbed and re-oiled the handrails, and of course, a bit of varnishing.  

We saw this raccoon carcass hanging in a tree on one walk, and wondered what could have happened to him?  Did Shaw Islanders just hate raccoons? 

We got our answer on the walk back, when we spotted this bald eagle, as well as a few juvenile eagles, hanging out in the same tree. 

Last year, we managed to snag a bit of the local cheese made by the Nuns who live at the Our Lady of the Rock Monastery on Shaw, but we didn't get a chance to visit.  We made it a priority this year, and called up Mother Hildegard to arrange a visit.  

What a beautiful place! The nuns own 300 acres of Shaw, on which they raise Jersey Cows for milk, cotswold sheep for wool, chickens, even alpaca and a muskox!   Mother Hildegard was wonderful- a real nun in a habit, bustling and busy and very personable.  She showed us around the cheese making room, and the guest house/store. We bought some of the famous cheese and a bag of herbal tea, which was grown in their gardens.   

The serenely beautiful chapel at Our Lady of the Rock. 

Some of the pastures managed by the nuns.  

We could have stayed longer.  
Maybe forever, but we were itching to get to Canada, to new islands, and where Cody has a fishing liscense.   We also needed to replenish our fresh food stores, bathe and do some laundry, so we headed to Friday Harbor.  

 Looking aft, going about one knot. 

We made a new friend in Friday Harbor.  Jeff, an Aussie, who has sailed all over the world in his boat, Indian Summer.  We had a nice visit with him and a tour of his boat. 


I also finally beat Cody at chess.  

Our town needs complete, we weighed anchor and headed out, glad to leave the hustle and bustle behind.  As we were tacking out, we were passed by the Victoria Clipper, several fishing boats, and three float planes, (two landing, one taking off).  It was with relief that we dropped anchor in Reid Harbor on Stuart island.   The long bay is extremely well protected, and the water there was some of the calmest we've seen while afloat.  

Sweet little Madge floating in the sky...  

Stuart Island is small and remote, but populated by a stalwart 30 or so year-round residents.  We hiked out to the Turn Point Lighthouse, and passed by the remarkable one-room school, complete with a tiny "teacherage" museum, which is inside the little one-room house that the school-teacher used to occupy.  

We spent a day in Reid, enjoying morning jogs on the beautiful trail system at the park, and going for a long row out to the two tiny islands that guard the entrance to the harbor.  Gossip is the larger of the two, pictured above.  We landed on the little shell beach, which made the water turquoise and tropical looking.  

Not much to see, but lovely wild roses in bloom.  

We headed over to Cemetery Island next, and happened upon a pair of Black Oystercatchers.  I had never seen these birds before, and it was fun to try and get a closer look.

Don't they look exotic?!

We departed Reid Harbor, bound for Bedwell Harbor on South Pender Island, of British Columbia.  We had a great romp of a sail, and tied up at the Customs dock with no trouble.  We cleared easily, and headed out again to anchor by the marine park nearby.  There was a wedding going on, and live music playing all afternoon.  We celebrated our first sail in foreign waters with dinner ashore.  

The next day, on a hike up to Mt. Nelson, we ran into a guy we had crossed paths with on Stuart.  Turns out, he's teaching boatbuilding classes to kids at the Lake Union Center for Wooden Boats this summer.  We chatted for a while, and invited him to come by and see Rabannah later.  He did, and then we visited his parents boat, anchored nearby.  We made plans to meet up here in Ganges, but we were beset by light winds and opposing currents.  Hopefully we'll meet up again with the Hansens somewhere down the line.

Salt Spring is wonderful so far- the highlight being the campground showers we found yesterday.  

They weren't as cold as they looked!  

Until next time....