On Sunday (August 3, 2014) just before the second set of races were to start for the Cow Bay Regatta, we snuck out of our marina and headed towards Tsehum Harbour north of Sidney and the official start of our cruise! The decision to go to Sidney first instead of north as planned was because we needed to pick up our lightweight foresail we found on the boat (a Drifter, we think?) from Leitch & McBride Custom Sailmakers in Sidney after having it repaired. On Thursday we received a call that it was ready for pickup and that was when the decision was made to make a detour to Sidney first.
We travelled a total distance of 12 NM and sailed 3 hours out of the 6 ½ hours it took to get to the harbour. We ended up motoring for half of it as we had hardly any winds in some of the channels and also we were fighting currents. However, as we left Cowichan Bay and travelled into Satellite Channel (with no winds) we could see the boats for the regatta getting ready in the bay behind us and they had enough wind to start the races. Luck of the draw! If we waited just a bit longer and left a bit later, we would have had a beautiful wind pushing us out of the channel south and towards the Saanich Peninsula.
Tsehum Harbour (48°40.322’N 123°24.49’W) is the Tsawout First Nation word for “clay” and is a very busy anchorage with many private moorings that made it difficult for us to pick an anchorage without being in the marked channels going to the six marinas. We ended up anchoring quite close to Van Isle Marina and we were able to use their showers. After setting the anchor, we found out (by searching the internet) that the bottom is littered with old mooring anchors, cables, sunken boats, abandoned crab traps and lines, and much more! We crossed our fingers and hoped that we did not have another incident like the one we had in Clam Bay.
We ended up having to wait for 2 days before we could pick up our sail as we came over on the long weekend and the sailmakers were not open. But this did not stop us from spending money! We found a chandler near the marina (All Bay Marine Ltd.) and were able to find most of the additional charts we need to go up the coast and potentially around Vancouver Island on the west side. We ended up buying 29 charts and left the store poorer than when we came in. Even though the charts are expensive, they are important as we don’t want to depend only on our chartplotter and will be using them as much as possible with the chartplotter as our backup.
Another benefit of us having to wait for two days before picking up our sail is that we got to explore some of downtown Sidney which was only a 15 minute walk away from the harbour. While walking down, we came across a wonderful park that included a Wellness Park where you can do exercise, relax in a beautiful garden or sit in the library – Rob took advantage of a few of the equipment to work out. Every city should have a set up like this!! We also took the opportunity to visit the Boater’s Exchange, a second hand boat exchange store where you can find some awesome deals on boat stuff.
While on the boat, we also got an opportunity to watched kids from the North Saanich Yacht Club learn how to sail and sailboats go in and out the harbour.
We also met this wonderful sailing couple from Austria that anchored near us and they have been sailing for more than 18 years. Claudia and Jürgen on La Belle Epoque sailed all the way from Austria to Greenland and then the Northwest Passage and are now slowly making their way to Mexico on their 13 metre Ketch steel-hulled sailboat. They gave us some excellent sailing advice over a few glasses of wine and desserts over a couple of nights. ~Sophia & Rob