2021

I don’t even know how to start this year’s first blog. But I may as well start with the Skipper’s corny joke this morning as we’re getting dressed to jump in the car and head up the Sea to Sky Highway.

“I don’t even know Howe Sounds???”

We’re feeling strange as we travel out of Vancouver across the Lion’s Gate Bridge. We’re going over the bridge, not under it like we’ve done a dozen times on OMOO. Neither one of us has been past the Horseshoe Bay Ferry Landing but we’ve spent days in Howe Sound sailing and anchoring off Gambier Island or docking in Squamish and walking up to the brewery.

So it’s a start to the firsts of this new year, this breath taking view along the winding drive between the mountains and the sea. Sigh…

We stop to enjoy the afternoon at Porto Cove Provincial Park with some friends who have lit the fire in their campsite. I know, camping in January?? Several of the campsites have tents set up and cooking shelters. IN JANUARY!! I’m close to 20 years on this coast and it still catches me by surprise.

Most of the trips we make by boat to the islands do not allow campfires, so guess how excited I am to be sitting at a campfire!! After dark the hotdogs came out and I was in for a yummy treat. I know, I know, but hotdogs on the fire are a big treat for this prairie girl. We went home smelling like wood smoke and it felt soooo good.

You may be wondering why we’re together in a car driving around the mainland? Well, Sideways Sally normally spends January in warm places, like Mexico and Australia, this year’s holiday is gonna be a little different.

I’m having a morphine holiday while I have my knee replaced. May as well right? Since we can’t go anywhere anyway I figure it’s good timing. Everyone I know that’s had a knee replacement ensures me the new knee is way better than the old one. And who doesn’t like morphine? It makes EVERYTHING go away.

So here we go 2021, looking forward to dancing again… when covid is gone.

Sunsets and Seascapes

Christmas feels like a non-event this year since it’s a different kind of crazy stress this pandemic has thrown at the world. While I ponder in the silence of my bubble, the memories flood in.

Memories of my childhood Christmas pageants at church, followed by brown bag treats or oranges and nuts. Rushing home in the darkness to sit under our brightly lit tree, listening to Grampa’s stories of his memories. Staring dreamily into the hanging decorations that feel like old friends.

Memories of Prairie Christmases. Piling into the car, kids delighting in watching the wisps of frost clinging to tree branches sliding past, glittering in the snow and sunshine. Arriving excitedly to see Gramma B’s sign all lit up outside her door saying, “Dear Santa, Ben, Malena and Chelsea are here!!”

Memories of long tables set in living rooms, surrounded by siblings, and our children in fancy dresses and itchy sweaters. Snow scrunching beneath our boots as we head to the hill, dressed in warm puffy jackets and pants, racing down on sleds with shrieks of glee. Laughter floating across the valleys

Memories of the first Christmas aboard my tiny sailboat Nomad, decorated with live holly, rocking gently in the waves washing into the bay. The boat fireplace casting a magical glow around the cabin. In OMOO with our optics lit tree blinks softly while the wind whistles through the rigging.

Memories of nursing in the hospital over the holidays and the comradery of work families, a bond that never ends. The memory of the generosity of patient’s loved ones bestowing cards and mountains of chocolate treats on us.

The memory building in all of us of Christmas, 2020, creating an experience shared around the world. A time like no other, bringing heartbreak and sorrow to so many. A simpler, strange time of staying apart. A time of fear, of uncertainty and of strength to persevere. Of gratitude for the wonders of science and the history of medical research and cures for diseases around the world.

From our small bubble to yours, we hope with all our hearts that we will all be in a better place in 2021.

Harold and Ruth

Saturday on Granville Island

Between the flower pots and the bakery the Busker sings a lovely French melody that matches the mood today. After all the rain this week colors jump out, while a little summer sunshine hangs off the changing leaves.

The work in the boatyard never ends.

The Pirate Ship is loading up with some tipsy grown up kids who are out for some fun in costume in a pretend world.

All aboard!!

We haven’t been out to enjoy any favorite restaurants, so SS brought a five star meal to the boat. Sirloin steak, smothered in mushrooms and onions, with a potato pouch and corn on the cob, and the most delish bread, all from the markets on Granville Island. I’m never leaving!!

With our amazing views between the bridges and the best marina to spend time at in Vancouver, we are ever so grateful for this month of transition from our summer sailing to our winter homes. We love you False Creek, Fisherman’s Wharf and Granville Island!!

So Sideways Sally will try to blend into the city for the winter, getting through this pandemic like everyone else, just keeping on keeping on.

False Creek Fisherman’s Wharf – A Hidden Gem in the Heart of Vancouver

Check out my second of three articles in 48North

A taxi driver who’s never been to Fisherman’s Wharf descends on Fir Street into the amazing views of False Creek and Fisherman’s Wharf. “I never knew this was here!” he exclaims.

It’s a joy to be sitting in the back seat listening to the Cabbie on a drive from work to the marina, as the expansive panorama opens up once passing through the gate. There are SO MANY varieties of boats, from working fishing boats, to luxury yachts, to derelict boats grandfathered in for live aboards.

Every year OMOO berths at Fisherman’s Wharf for part of the summer season to deliver Sideways Sally back to the working world so she can fill the piggy bank for the next adventure. Every year the kind and professional staff find a spot between the permanent and transient boats where we call home for a few weeks.

This year was different, as it has been for everyone. The pandemic is still in full swing, and traffic has changed on the water. The folks on the docks are few and far between. There’s some traffic in and out of Burrard Civic Marina next door on race nights, but nothing like the hectic, crazy throngs of kayakers, paddleboarders, sea doos and barbeque boats that normally transit up and down the narrow channel of False Creek.

Thank you Turk the Wharfinger and all the lovely staff at Fisherman’s Wharf for another welcoming stay. OMOO and crew have grown very fond of you and your amazing facility over the years.

PS. The book exchange is the BEST on the West Coast!!

False Creek from the walkway to Granville Island
OMOO berthed in her slip with a great view of downtown.
False Creek boats and sky scrapers.
The view from “The Lagoons” which is the condo complex between Fisherman’s Wharf and Granville Island.

Sunsets to City

UPDATE: 48North published the 2nd article in a set of 3 I submitted. Have a peek!

It’s been a month of transition for OMOO and crew. Sideways Sally is back to doing a job she luv luv luvs. The Skipper is into project mode and taking advantage of the city dock with extra good amperage for the tools and equipment. Along with some new boat neighbors to chat up, he’s a happy camper.

YES, we are being super Covid cautious… Masks, disinfectant, taxi to work and back, and no late night clubbing. We did brave the masked multitudes at Canadian Tire yesterday to get an air filter to tape to the fan to filter boat air. The Skipper found it terrifying until SS took him for a coffee and cookie treat. I’m not sure what scared him the most, SS driving a Shared-Modo van, dodging mad drivers, or the crazy old white guys that won’t wear masks.

The smart filter we got can read the air quality via bluetooth so our phone can tell us how we’re doing. We can’t smell smoke!! This is a good sign, the fan/filter has been proven to work over the previous years of forest fires.

Now, we sit on a Sunday morning sipping our coffee for hours, chatting with kids, grans and friends. Well, we were interrupted by the mobile poop pumper who came to empty our tank.

By late afternoon there’s some lamb chops marinating, we’ve caught up on the latest news from family, the CBC and of course, whatever social media is spewing.

Here’s some favorite sunsets, sunrises and people!!

Fisherman’s Wharf has always been good to us, we enjoy the friendly and helpful staff, and the working boats are impressive!

Whales, Dolphins and Bears

I’ve learned it’s really hard to get good pics of humpbacks.  These guys are everywhere south of the Dent Rapids, this one had a baby with her and what a show it was as we sped past them at 11 KNOTS with the current.  No chance of slowing down unless we wanted to go back through the rapids as the tide changed.

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The first week of August has been full of  awesome surprises.  We left the Broughton Archipelago, bidding it farewell from Lagoon Cove.  We left the most awesome sights of our summer sailing, we thought….

Preparing to go through the rapids and timing our passage as we left Shoal Bay we were accompanied by the “bullet dolpins” which is what I call these black and white creatures that dart back and forth under the bow and pop up to say hello.

The next surprise was a bear on the shore in Port Neville as we ducked out of some headwinds on Johnstone Strait.  We headed into the back roads to bypass the strong currents and winds against us and anchored in Foreward Harbor, one of our old favorites.  Coming out the next morning we squeaked past the tugs and logbooms starting their tow in Welborne Channel.

We needed some supplies so after Green Point Rapids we docked at Blind Bay Resort and treated ourselves to dinner and live music at their attractive restaurant.  YUMMY!!

We stopped in Van an Dop Inlet (pretty sure that’s spelled wrong) and then Gorge Harbor which turned into a bit of a fiasco.  A boat came in with a jib sheet hanging over the side and jammed their prop, causing the engine to cease just in front of us.  They quickly dropped their anchor just before dark. I’m sure they were relieved to hear us call on the VHF to help them solve their problem.  The next morning one of the lady crew jumped in the water and untangled the line, and the motor started right up.

Later on we were relaxing in the cockpit after getting laundry done, and our neighbor stopped by on their kayak to tell us there is a rock near us.  We fired up the chart plotter to have a look and sure enough, it’s too close for comfort.  Up came the anchor and because it was so crowded near the marina we went to the far end of Gorge Harbor where there was this treasure anchored.DSCN4457

We are at Heriot Bay and woke up to a Humpback feeding along the edges of the shallow water.  What a wonderful way to start the day!!  I can truly say the sights since leaving the Broughtons have been a very pleasant surprise.

The Last Freedom

OMOO continues to wander around the Broughtons, looking for spots we haven’t been, and there are plenty.  The familiar marinas for fuel and provisions are well spaced out and accessible between jaunts into the wilderness, it’s a perfect way to explore the area.

We stopped at Sullivan Bay and had a lovely evening chatting with the crew from High Seas Drifter, a boat built in 1942 war time for torpedo retriever out of Shearwater, B.C.  The current Captain has used her for crew during forestry work and is now retired and had the family on board.  She attracts alot of attention so we chatted with the group of men that came to admire.  Have a look at her here:

https://www.capfor.ca/boat-charters

 

Next stop was Kwatsi Bay in Tribune Channel, another favorite from past visits.  Thompson Sound was recommended by sailors we met at Sullivan Bay, and away we went.

 

The highlight of an anchorage like this is experiencing the vast wilderness, and being the only humans around for miles.  This is so amazing that we can do this.  The Skipper comments often how it is “The Last Freedom.”

Sideways Sally is enthralled with the wildlife and the changing views as OMOO dances at anchor.DSCN4322 (2)

I woke to the sounds of spashing outside the hull and knew the dolphins were circling.  The Sound was filled with these delightful creatures playfully diving under the boat or jumping up to say hello.

 

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Today we are back at Lagoon Cove, and starting to head slowly south again, winding our way back through the rapids to Desolation Sound.  The Broughtons are waiting for another year of boaters, as this year has been a tough one for many marinas, with no American boats.  We have to admit, it’s been nice having Canada to ourselves.

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City to Serenity

 

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From the sounds of sirens, traffic and loud neighbors in Vancouver to the dark, calm and quiet night in a bay at anchor in the Broughtons, the contrast is welcome. I slept for 12 hours.

Sideways Sally made a quick trip to Vancouver last weekend for a couple of appointments. A short flight from Port Hardy airport to Vancouver South Terminal takes all of 50 minutes. Then a taxi ride to VGH for my appointment and a short walk to my old B&B at 13th and Cambie puts me back in the heart of covidization. Donning my mask and picking my routes on quiet residential streets gave me some sense of safety.

The return flight had a delay due to technical problems so I lived in the airport from 9am to 4pm. Because of the alphabet, MS BROWN was called up early to make arrangements on cancelling my flight or rebooking. I’d chatted with Eric and Connor while waiting and we hatched the plan. I scored the last three 3 seats for myself and the two young gentlemen on the only flight north to Campbell River that day. They had to get to Port Hardy for work, so they rented a JEEP and I jumped in the back. Once we were on the road Eric drove like a bat out of hell so I made it to Port McNeill in time for dinner with the Skipper.

Yikes, I was so glad to be back on OMOO, we let the lines go at Port McNeill the next day after provisioning for the next couple of weeks. We decided on a short trip over to Sointula to plug in to the dock and do some pressure cooking and make enough meals for the next three days. This makes life a breeze, then off we went in the breeze, sailing into the Broughtons. With the forecasted NW winds to 25 knots we sought the best sheltered anchorages. We navigated through Blackfish Sound, saw a couple of blows from a distant Humpback whale, and dropped the hook behind Goat Island(no there are no goats) and then Waddington Bay. Both these anchorages are bomb proof so we had peaceful, blissful nights.

On the trip to Waddington Bay SS navigated through Village Channel and Spring Passage between small islets with eddies and currents giving us a fun ride. Retreat Passage going north gave us a pleasant sail with the jib on a broad reach. We glided past the Gilford Nation Village with it’s prominent Long House and colorful houses. As we pulled in the sail and started to motor into our anchorage between the Fox Islands, a blow RIGHT BESIDE THE BOAT just about gave me a heart attack. The Skipper steered the boat slowly away from the humpy who kept swimming along side of us, then gave us a whale tale wave and sounded, coming up on the other side about 300 feet away with a full breach and a magnificent display of power and grace. I was shaking with excitement trying to get my camera going but only caught the “tail end” of the breach. OH MY HAT, what a surprise. We calmed down eventually and got anchored in the lee of a small island inside the bay. We talked about the whale for quite awhile, these encounters are so amazingly special that it leaves one in a wonderful state of love with nature. The wind subsided by the time we fell asleep and it was a calm glassy morning on the water.

I KNOW HUMPY IS OUT THERE WAITING FOR US!! We can’t wait to see what happens today. We pulled into Echo Bay for fuel, and checked out a possible anchorage at Laura Cove. It was uninviting so we headed across to Simoon Sound with it’s sharp cliffs and promising nooks for anchoring.

Just inside the entrance to the sound, our friends Josh and Sandy approached on “The Next Chapter.” We hailed them on the VHF and stopped for a chat. They had just caught 150 prawns so were happy to share. Josh jumped in their dingy and zipped over to OMOO for the handover. What luck!!

We anchored in a fairly open spot after trying to tuck into a small bay, only to see an uncharted rock at low tide. It was too close for comfort. The conditions were calm and sunny as we enjoyed the prawns with our dinner, lavishing in luxury in the cockpit. Summer had finally made her appearance in the Broughtons and we were feeling very fortunate about that. The morning brought a low hanging fog, mystifying and deceiving. As the sun slowly rose, the shifting shapes and shades were mesmerizing to watch, and finally the “Bald Mountain” appeared with it’s prominent cliffs. There was not a cloud in the sky and the sea was calm as we headed for our next destination in Greenway Sound.

 

The area has been logged extensively on the low lying hills so it looks desolate. At the head of the Sound we rounded an island which the guide books say is good for anchoring. A colony of seals greeted us, perched on the rocks at low tide. They watched us with curiosity and provided an intertaining evening of grunting and moaning at eachother, possessive of the rocks they could find as the tide rose. A pod of dolphins splashed and jumped, circling the far end of the sound. Another perfectly sunny calm evening as we took our dinner into the cockpit and took in the sights.

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Far removed from covidization, we are happy and comfy in the belly of OMOO, and exactly where we want to be.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Broughton+Archipelago+Marine+Provincial+Park

Dolphins of Tribune Channel

Sideways Sally is always thinking, (and it hurts).  Today this thought keeps going around inside her noggin, “Back track Jack.”  It’s because she couldn’t wait to show you Lacey Falls, and skipped from her favorite place, Lund to the Broughtons.  So “CHEERS” to back tracking.  It’s 11am so I’m cheering you with java!!

The trip from home port of Maple Bay to the Broughton Archipelago is not as far as one would think.  When we arrive to this incredibly scenic area of the central coast we are pleasantly surprised all over again by the familiar sights and friendly marinas waiting there (pinching ourselves again).

We never actually planned this trip.  We were hanging out in the Southern Gulf Islands in May and June, waiting to see what happened with Stage 2 reopening from Covid-19 lockdowns.  After mid June it looked like things were opening up again and British Columbia was heading to Stage 3.  The marinas up north were starting to do business so we pointed OMOO into the wind of the Salish Sea and away we went!

After spending time with Skipper’s favorite dog and his humans in Desolation Sound,  getting more chocolate bars (code for provisions) and clean undies (code for laundry day) the Skipper was like a horse waiting to get out of the gate.  “Let’s hit the rapids tomorrow,” he said to SS before bed.  This is about how far ahead we plan.

Refuge Cove for provisions and laundry.

 

Sailing up Lewis Channel between West Redonda and Cortez Islands

Sideways Sally transited the Yuculta and Dent Rapids in the calm waters of the slack tide (between Stuart and Sonora Islands).  She’s often on the wheel on the longer days when the Skipper goes below to “tinker.”  SS scans the water and the chart plotter constantly watching for obstructions and logs, but most importantly the horizon for the splash of dolphins jumping, or the blow of whales.   She’s been called “Eagle Eye Brown” a few times.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Lewis+Channel

Yuculta Rapids map below.

https://mapcarta.com/24717264

After stop-overs in Shoal Bay and Lagoon Cove OMOO gets into our next favorite place.

Tribune Channel never disappoints.  After letting the lines go at Lagoon Cove OMOO slides across Knight Inlet and into Tribune.  The sky is milky and the ocean is calm.  There’s not another boat in sight, OMOO has the Channel to herself.  SS keeps the binoculars and the camera handy and when she spots some sea life the sudden slowing of the throttle brings the Skipper back into the cockpit.  They trade spots and this is what happens next!!

 

Sideways Sally is so excited to share the news that 48NORTH is publishing a series of articles called “Small Marinas, Big Personality.”

Here is the link to the first one:  https://48north.com/cruising/cruising-destinations/small-marina-big-personality-texada-boat-club/

Have a great read and a great weekend.  Thanks for enjoying our blog!!