The weather has been improving the last few weeks and we took out Blue Tale for a sail on February 21st and ended up sailing all the way to Pender Island. Pender Island is one of the Southern Gulf Islands located along the Pacific Coast of British Columbia and is approximately 18 nautical miles (nm) from Cowichan Bay. Our sail was great all the way with the exception of one dead zone between the tip of Saltspring Island and Fulford Harbour – it always seems to occur at this same spot every time we come around Saltspring Island. Rob was able to find some wind eventually and we kept sailing all the way; we were even able to pass a little sailboat on our way to the island.
For our first night we stayed in Bedwell Harbour attached to one of the marine park mooring buoys; it was much quieter compared to our previous visit last summer with only five other boats attached to buoys.
The following morning we left late as our next destination was literally just around the corner. We motored around the south end of Pender Island (no wind) and into Port Browning Marina – the main reason for visiting Port Browning was to see if the marina was open and to see if they had any showers available as Rob’s sister was coming to visit us in a couple of days and we wanted to make sure we could find at least one marina with a functioning shower. Bedwell Harbour would have been our first choice but Poets Cove Resort and Marina was closed for the season.
The marina was conveniently located near the Driftwood Centre, a short walking distance, where a boater can stock up on supplies at the grocery store or some good coffee at the bakery.
On February 23rd we pulled anchor and headed to Sidney Spit,which is part of the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve (Parks Canada). Again, we had hardly any wind as we travelled the 23 nm to the park but at least we were travelling with the strong ebb current that can occur within Boundary Pass and made some good time.
Our approach to Sidney Spit was a bit nerve wrecking as the entrance has a sand bar in front of it (the bar changes/moves) and a narrow entrance making the approach challenging. We approached very slowly and followed the chart plotter and depth sounder as best as possible to avoid the shallow sandy areas. As we approached the entrance and the narrow channel, we were being pushed by current towards the south and one second we were in 4 metres of water and next our depth sounder alarm was going off and we dropped to 0 metres but we were still within the channel based on the chart plotter (we were later told by Parks that the sand shifts every season, making the charts un-reliable in some cases and the anchorage even shallower than originally charted)!! Luckily we glided over the ‘eel grass’ that Rob could see over the side and made our way to one of the marine mooring buoys.
Sidney Spit Park is shaped like a lobster claw with parts of its wonderful beach disappearing at high tide leaving only the pilings as indicators that there is anything untoward underneath. We took a wonderful walk along the skinny sand strip from the marine park dock northwest toward the tiny navigational light at its end. The walk took longer than we expected as we kept getting side-tracked by the wonderful views of the snow-capped Olympic Mountain Range to the south, Mount Baker to the east, the variety of birds on the shoreline, and the many shell treasures we found. Once we came back to the boat, we set out our crab trap and hoped for the best. We spent a lovely evening in the cockpit enjoying the sunset and slightly warmer weather but not warm enough yet to discard our longjohns and fleece jacket!!
The morning of February 24th, we made sure to time our departure from Sidney Spit at high tide to hopefully avoid our depth sounder alarm going off again. Prior to pulling the anchor, we first picked up our crab trap and found we had two crabs in it (Dungeness crabs) but they were too small for us to keep. The trip over to Tsehum Harbour near Sidney was uneventful and we avoided having any of our alarms go off again. We anchored in Tsehum Harbour, stocked up on groceries, cleaned the boat, did some laundry and waited for Rob’s sister’s arrival on February 26th. ~ Sophia & Rob