It’s weird getting a new to us boat ready to spend a month on, but then it’s not like we’re without resources. This year my parents were taking their former boat, the J40 Tula, since her new owner was in Antarctica at McMurdo station still. They had our great family friend Kay along who they’ve cruised with lots on the Tula and on her former boats all around the world. She’s also an amazing photographer, great to have her around. We’ll meet up with our lifelong Canadian cruising friends on their boats too. Headed out of town on 7/30, we saw our Taco Tuesday and G dock friends on Impossible and traded photos.
That first day we call into customs just as we cross the border into Canada in the NW corner of the San Juans and then head to Parks Bay just outside of Montague Harbor and met the Tula who had left Seattle the previous day. Now it feels like summer vacation!
Had a nice lazy morning in the Gulf Islands and even jumped in for a swim and rudder wipe while we were waiting a few more minutes for the current to change in Dodd Narrows. There was a nice breeze outside of Sydney and we enjoyed sailing most of the way across the straits then caught up to Tula going into Ballet Bay. Swam again, ate dinner, and swam some more.
Forecast for the next few days was blustery and rainy (some August!) and we met our Canadian counterparts in Squirrel cove, hooray! It’d been quite a few years since we saw s/v Flattery and s/v Farrari, and this year there’s a new Grady White called Breakaway with them, pretty cool! We got a few projects done and visited the Riptide 50 ‘Strum’ who was anchored nearby. We went out with the fishing crazy Canadians and caught a bunch of salmon outside the bay for dinner, yum!
The next day we went up to Teakerne Arm, set our crab pots with salmon heads, and swam some more. I felt like it was really vacation now that we had a nice big raft up and dinner parties.
We spent a few days there and enjoyed some hikes up to the lake, rows around the bay, and dinner parties with more… you guessed it, salmon! Cooked three ways on three different grills, so delicious.
Next stop was the Octopus Islands, about 20 miles away. We picked up anchor and slipped away, but Farrari and Flattery’s anchors were entangled with old cables from logging operations and it took them a while to get going. Flattery headed off to meet friends and we made our way through Hole in the Wall and found a nice anchorage close to the trailhead to the lake there. We saw another family from West Van our friends knew and they had two Aeros with them! We had a blast racing them around the bay.
The next day Mom didn’t feel too well and took a COVID test, shoot! It was positive. Turns out Flattery had it too, they must have picked it up at a fishing lodge they visited the week prior. Funny to be kept out of Canada for so long due to Covid and then only pick it up when we got there. Dad slept on Rocket Science until he got it too. Greg and I had just had it earlier in the summer so we weren’t too worried… but then Griffin hadn’t had it.
We went on a hike up to the lake, it had been a long time since I had been there. Such a gorgeous spot but a little tough to get in and out of the super clear water there.
The next day we towed a minto with the Grady White over to the shack where everyone hangs driftwood art representing their boat. We were woefully underprepared, maybe next time we’ll get some art up!
Tula and Farrari took off right when we got back and headed down towards Rebecca Spit. We were slower to leave because on raising our anchor we couldn’t see the chain it was so covered with thick and sticky mud. We went down through the narrows’ south opening and flew through with the current, such a gorgeous passage and love all the houses in remote corners. Other boats saw whales, not us. At Rebecca we anchored fairly far into the bay, nice but we ended up having to move a little to get a bit further away from a catamaran with only rhode out. Mom is still hiding in the bow of the Tula, not feeling too bad but no one wants to be around her.
Some of us went on a walk ashore in the morning, Rebecca is such a nice provincial park. Driftwood was used as both weight and bench in a bench press activity for the boys, Griffin is quite fascinated with the idea of getting stronger. Later, the Grady White took a bunch of the kids tubing and we had Pad Thai and lettuce wraps for dinner, it was a really calm and chill day. Kids played card games and we all had our fingers crossed that no one else would get sick.
The next day some folks went into town and did a load of laundry, Griffin and I went on another walk to the far side of the spit and collected some rocks to add to our garden at home. Back at the boats we readied to leave, Griffin helped raise the anchor and we poked at a huge tube worm that came up in the mud and sand. Glassy and grey crossing over the very north end of the straits when we easily spotted 5 different pairs of humpbacks feeding. Then the wind picked up and we had a great sail the rest of the way to Galley Bay, photo from the Tula.
Boys executed the stern tie in Galley and Griffin was happy to be tied up near a seaplane. I jumped in the water, it was cool but nice. Happy hour, hamburgers, corn on the cob, a few raindrops, and everyone retired to their own boats for the evening. Dad is still sleeping on Rocket Science, mom is feeling better but still throaty.
The next morning was lovely and I got to do some yoga on the bow while Greg made coffee. Good cell signal here and I got payroll submitted! Prawn and crab traps were set and then some boogie boarding on the Grady. In the afternoon mom was feeling much better, helped by Pat and Dennis joining our raft up! I can’t remember the name of their current boat, just Summer Sky, their boat from my childhood days. They’re on their way back from adventures much further north. Julie and I went for a walk in the woods on an old and overgrown path, heard a loud bang and quickly returned back to the beach. Big greek themed dinner with everyone together again. Later, dad was feeling a little more tired and tested on a whim, covid positive! Now very unsure about more family joining up later.
Waves from a passing vessel slap the hull as we wake up. After coffee Greg notices that s/v Raven and s/v Impossible (our Taco Tuesday friends) are both in Mink! We got moving to go meet them, Farrari decided to go to Tenedos, Tula went on a motor about to charge batteries and we got over to Mink and snagged our favorite spot. Can’t believe we took half our trip to get here! Lots of boats anchored in the little harbor at Mink and one precocious girl knew we were a Riptide, she knows Strum from racing in Vancouver. She was hanging out with an 8 year old boy from a huge yacht in the bay, Griffin ran off with them to hang out there but chose not to jump off the bow which was maybe 20′ off the water. Not to forget the reason we were there- friends! Everyone met on the beloved Mink Island rocks and chatted. Esther, Sheena, and I paddle boarded up to and portaged through the Curmies, so great. Everyone on Rocket Science for happy hour except Brad who stayed on Impossible with the kids watching a show. Dinner alone with just the three of us, weird.
The next morning Raven and Impossible took off early, Raven was ultimately going down WA to pick up crew and then down to Mexico! Looking forward to hearing about their adventures.
The whole bay emptied out then and we headed over to Tenedos to meet up with Farrari and crew again. As we pulled into the bay where they all were we found our G dock neighbors on Southern Star there too, small world. After going to get traps we headed to the beach to walk up to the lake, lots of people there but eventually found our neighbors. Dinner aboard with everyone, covid worries seemed to be a thing of the past for most. Peaceful evening with whistling night hawks flying around the tall cliffs right off our stern.
Next morning the Grady went off to pick up more family coming up on a plane and a charter boat too! The rest of us tidied up, Farrari’s cockpit even got scrubbed out by her captain! We got our water maker filters changed and cleaned out the big strainer basket. I went on a row and set up the old macramé hammock on the bow. The Grady showed up with all the cousin kids and Lee first, then Denise on the Zodiac, I jumped on Flattery to help Dal anchor, and finally s/v Just Do It the charter boat with Julie, Rob, Shelli, and Marg! Heather and Josh and pups join on their fishing boat, what a raft up. Mayhem and happiness ensue.
A few kids slept ashore, that went well and all of them went tubing in the morning. Glad Julie and I got a row in yesterday evening, today she’s ferrying everyone back and forth and around. One more boat joined the raft up, a super tidy Sweden 34 named Ptarmigan with a friend of the Huntingford’s named James with two younger kids, Ewan and Cadence as its crew. My sister Carrie, hubby Nate and kids Allie and Tessa decided to come up and risk the mess, Greg and Griffin took the Grady to pick them up in Lund. Big group taco dinner while everyone gets settled. Ladies went for a dusk paddle board in the quiet and super calm evening. A huge school of little fish made lots of noise in the night jumping and splashing.
High winds in the forecast so we decided to stay here in Tenedos all cozy to the steep wall face in the corner of a bay. We got most of the group to the lake for a swim, Tula took Kay to Mink to catch her seaplane home and Flattery left to meet some other friends. At the lake we floated a log and had a blast jumping off of it and trying to stand on it while it rolled. On the way back we stopped to play in the stream, I remember doing laundry in it when I was young.
Back at the boats kids all went swimming again, we rigged the minto for some dinghy sailing, and others went off on the plethora of paddle boards we all have now. The Grady came back with two salmon which were grilled for dinner. Greg had run the engine and made water earlier so we had hot water and plenty of it, so nice that everything is working so well! Evening spent socializing and having boat tours.
An early morning float plane came through and got us all going, Griffin and his cousins played some legos and then Sleeping Queens (a fav card game). Griffin won and celebrated by jumping into the water and the girls joined too. We moved over to Mink and many boats stopped by Refuge Cove for water and fuel, we just ran our water maker some more. Everyone spent lots more time in the water, cliff jumping, swimming, and even the Margs hung out on the paddle boards, what a great day.
Sunny morning and Griffin started swimming right after breakfast. We saw a few humpbacks passing by just outside the bay and Heather knew the names of the two resident whales. More fishing and tubing, I’m starting to see a pattern here! Greg made friends with the new caretaker at Mink and learned that lots of the family were coming up the next day. The last of the Huntingford clan, John, Jess, and boys, came by to say hi to everyone from Savary. Another delicious dinner, this time on Farrari’s deck with pulled pork and all the fixings. Evening paddle boarding with orange and purple skies.
Today is my birthday, I wonder how many I’ve spent at Mink Island… lots. Cloudy morning with coffee ready and t storms in the forecast but they never showed up. Nate made pancakes and we hung out a while. Time to get moving so we went on a walk up to the lake on the newly re-done road and wandered around a long time. Hot and tired, time for swimming, lunch, and then more swimming. James and Julie brought charcuterie and champagne over, the sun was out, and everything was perfect. I even won all the backgammon games against dad and Carrie. Dal and Denise made salad rolls with freshly caught prawns.
I think the best part of this year’s trip was next, we had an all out talent show like the old days! We got Rob to do Jabberwocky (I helped), Josh played the guitar and told jokes, Griffin and Tessa did some Orkila cheers, Jonas juggled lemons, Nate did some math tricks, James and Cadence read a poem, mom told a joke, Dal and Denise sang “The Love Boat”, and Luke and Claire hid behind Julie and Heather and fed them, did their make up, and other silly things. It was so entertaining!
The next day was Jonas’ birthday, but they were all departing. Lee and Jonas on the Grady first, then everyone else on the chartered boat. Farari was headed to Savary to see John and Jess some more, Josh and Heather were last to leave on their little speedboat. Griffin stood on the bow and told everyone upon their departures that now he is covid positive… great. Quiet morning and Griffin even had a nap. I went on a speedboat run with Dal and Denise to check out the new stuff at Refuge Cove, looks good. The afternoon included swimming, news from Sandy that he’s covid positive too, and that everyone had made it home fine. Dal and Denise stayed one more day and we shared another yummy meal that included fresh prawns, of course.
Griffin’s birthday is up next in the 3 day birthday bash, he’s now 10 years old! We filled his room with balloons per usual and had his requested muffins and cheese sauce for breakfast. Dal and Denise brought him a Refuge Cove hat, he opened his surprise Joe Satriani concert tickets, and played more Sleeping Queens with his cousins. Carrie made him an amazing treasure hunt all over the boats, so fun. We went on a fast walk on shore and came back to a napping Griffin. Later he played some Flight Simulator in his new aviator sunglasses and then a seaplane landed and taxied right by us, what a dream come true for the aspiring aviator. After dinner Griffin and I went paddle boarding out to the point.
Early morning departure from our favorite place, Tula took off first to take Carrie, Nate and the girls back to Lund so they could catch their ferries and get all the way home. It was a gorgeous morning with dark clouds and piercing sunlight, more whales were seen as we went by Savary and then we saw Farrari in the distance! Rob, Sheli and the kids had dropped off everyone else and were taking the boat back to West Van. We met up with them and the Tula at Hornby Island, I don’t remember ever going there before. The kids had fun rowing to then swimming at the beach, it was great to have an extra day with them.
Farrari headed out the next morning at 6am, we were a little less ambitious and I got to go around the bay and chatted with another CYC boat working abroad from their Starlink. Underway around 9, there was a nice breeze and we just put up the main for some surfy downwind sailing, probably should have reefed. Just after we left we saw a huge bunch of humpbacks all jumping and playing, it was crazy. We zoomed around the outside of the Gulf Islands, came through Porlier pass, saw a bunch of orcas, and anchored off of Parker Island where Tula has friends with an amazing property and dock we like to visit. Karen and Herb used to have a J40 too and Karen is an amazing artist. We hung out in the dinghies chatting with them as they’ve not had covid yet.
That night was the most gorgeous sunset and right at the best part a boat sailed into the bay. The boat was familiar and it came to me, it’s Ziska from Port Townsend who did R2AK in 2019. Ziska was built in 1903 by Crossfield Brothers of Arnside, Cumbria, England, and the current owner put an electric drive with lithium battery bank in during a recent haul out.
The next day we got ready to head back to the USA. It was a calm morning and as we picked up the anchor a drone came and circled us, it was kinda spooky. It was a neighbor of Karen and Herb’s who got our contact info and sent on a video and photos from the drone, that was cool! I felt silly for being spooked out by it following us.
We cleared customs on the phone and anchored in Parks bay on Shaw in the San Juans around 1p. I set some crab traps with frozen Canadian salmon heads. Sat on the bow and watched a dead head start to float as the tide came in. I’m so appreciative of this amazing boat and our privilege to be here! It’s so peaceful. I went on another row and re-set one crab trap, checked out the little island in the north end of the bay, and a neat converted trawler with a couple working on it. The other trap had 3 keepers, yay! Back to the boat, quick swim in the much chillier water, beat dad at backgammon twice, and won the crab eating contest with mom coming in second place. Another gorgeous sunset followed.
The next morning was calm and we headed south through Cattle pass. Tula was not far behind us, the straits were pretty calm at first then the fog and clouds settled in and it got choppy. That sort of water would have been pretty bouncy on the Mara, Rocket Science just slices through it. We used radar to watch the other boats around us, couldn’t see much otherwise. Barely any wind down the sound but a few miles from Port Madison a northerly filled in and we hoisted the blue chute for the first time, just for practice and only for about 20 min as we had arrived. We anchored in the only place we fit in there now, just off the SYC outstation. It was warm! Everyone but Dad jumped in to cool off. Ryan H came over to say hi, fun that he helped us buy the boat just 9 months ago and we got to tell him how great the boat had been for the last month. What a great vacation, good job team!