I have done a lot of single handed boating, mostly sail, but this was my first extended cruise alone, my wife having given up on boating.
From Vancouver I headed north toward Desolation Sound in touchy weather and threatening to get worse. With an engine situation that kept me down to sail boat speed I slowly made my way to Pender Harbor.
The next 5 days were spent at anchor or at the dock, in the rain, waiting for the wind to die down.
Power boats certainly cannot take the weather that a sail boat can. My current boat, the Tolly 26, with my limited experience on it is a wet boat, lots of spray and water over the bow. Traveling alone I did not feel it prudent to go out, although I took the dingy out for a peek a couple of times. My previous boat, a 36 ft. trawler style with a very round bottom would have been a miserable ride. I began thinking of going back to sail. With my sail boat (29 ft) I would have had no qualms about heading out in the weather that was keeping me hunkered down on the power boat.
Finally the weather broke and I made my way to Lund. Lund is the furthest point up the coast that you can drive. My wife, Patricia, had driven up to spend a few days on the boat in Desolation Sound. The winds had died but it had not yet become sunny. We spent a pleasant few days moving around to different anchorages, Grace Harbor, Squirrel Cove, etc. before returning to Lund where Patricia would pick up her car and drive back to Vancouver.
But it was not to be that easy. As I fueled up Patricia took the dog for a walk and promptly sprained her ankle, so she was unable to drive. Thus the next three days were spent rafted up at the dock, with me doing the cooking and errands such as driving around Powell River trying to buy a cane. At the end of that time she was able to hobble to the car and return to Vancouver.
Now heading back south, I made my way to Secret Cove, and from there around the south end of Texada Island to Nanaimo. It was not a smooth crossing but not outrageously rough either. The anchorage adjacent to Newcastle Island is a favourite. Not secluded, there would be over a hundred boats there. The island is a park with showers, walks and the always interesting history and quarries. Now that I have a dingy with a motor it was easy to get to the floating pub-restaurant, and across to the harbor to the city marina and down town area.
From Nanaimo I turned north again, along Vancouver Island to Schooner Cove, where I met up with the family, Patricia, my sons and their wives and my grand daughter Elena. They had rented a cottage, and we all stayed together there for two nights. We had fun and it was a nice break from the semi solitary time on the boat.
Then south again, stopping at Nanaimo before heading further south to the Gulf Islands. Passing through Dodd Narrows against the flood tide is always a concern. It is like a funnel, and boats of all sizes all types and all levels of experience come together. I had allowed a reasonable space between myself and the boat in front and was not traveling fast. Then over the radio I heard “would the Tolly in Dodd Narrows please speed up, I am towing a boat and cannot go that slow.” I was concentrating so much steering in the currents that I could not even look behind, however I waved my arm, sped up and got a thank you over the radio. But that was not the end of it. I was still not through the narrows when there was another radio message “Tolly in Dodd Narrows, can you pass that sail boat and pull in front of him, I need still more speed.” I had been slowly passing the sail boat but thought it would be more prudent to slow down and pull in behind him, which I did. The big power boat towing his 25 ft. shore boat sped by, this time he could read the name of my boat and I got a “Thank you Morning Star.” And then I was through, big sigh.
Spent a few days at various spots in the Gulf Islands, always at anchor and never in very good weather. Had to anchor at the south end of Montague Harbor, lots of rode out but the wind did not get too bad.
Now it was time to start heading back. The Gulf can be unpredictable and I needed some cushion in case I had to wait out weather. I headed for Silva Bay via Gabriola Passage. When I arrived at the pass it was in ebb but within an hour of slack tide. I thought it would be quite tame so in I went. It certainly was not tame. At the east end the current was ferocious and you are using a lot of power to have control. You are skirting along the edge of whirl pools that are the size of houses. I’m through, another big sigh. If Patricia had been along it would have been divorce city for sure.
When I arrived at Silva Bay I fueled up. No one was on the gas dock when I pulled in. By this time I had been compiling a list of rules for traveling alone. This lead to another rule do not step off the boat unless you have a rope in your hand. The boat did not get away from me, but it was close. The weather was cooperating, so after a night at anchor it was off across the Gulf. Since I was running a couple of days ahead of schedule I headed to Halkett Bay on Gambier Island. This is another favorite spot, with a marine park, which had always been important when traveling with a dog. There were only 3 boats there. When I looked at my log book for the previous year, at about the same time of year, there were 30 boats at anchor. Perhaps the small number of boats emboldened the couple 20 yards in front of me to go skinny dipping!
The last night was spent at Plumper Cove on Keats Island. At anchor this is rock and roll city from the waves of boats going up the channel. I think I will stop going there unless I can tie up at the dock. Then it was off to my mooring buoy in Tunstall Bay on Bowen Island, and a few days at the cabin with Patricia before moving the boat back to the marina in Vancouver.