Bedwell to Nanaimo to Jedediah

Northbound in the Gulf Islands, BC
May 14-15, 2015

Flush with the success of extracting the Hook of Paranoia, we waltzed northward through the Gulf Islands accompanied by sunny, warm weather.  Careful to stay out of the way of the early morning ferry traffic, we worked our way up Captain's Passage past Salt Spring Island, then past Mayne, north along Galiano, Valdes, and Gabriola. We put up the drifter, our first canvas of the trip, and motor-sailed, reluctant to enjoy the peace of diesel-less travel as we had a tight schedule to make it through Dodd Narrows at slack water.

We cleared Dodd on the flood tide (just) and finished the day in Nanaimo -- at the mooring balls at Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park.  Nanaimo has a number of marinas convenient to downtown for those who want to take advantage of Nanaimo's charm, but the park anchorage is convenient to fuel, city views, and has easy-access to Newcastle Island. The entire island is parkland, with pleasant trails, lovely views of the Georgia Strait, and midden beaches that testify to the island's pre-modern appeal.

Georgia Strait, looking east from Newcastle Island 

Moorage in the Summer can be scarce in Nanaimo, but there are sufficient mooring balls to meet demand at the park, even at peak season. In the summertime, you can actually get an ice cream, snacks, and even beer at the pavilion, and a ferry affords transit to and from the city. We seemed to have the island to ourselves in mid-May.

Ripple on a mooring ball at Newcastle Island Provincial Marine Park
The showers at the park are inexpensive and welcome, as much for the pure sensuality of hot water as for the hygienic benefits.  Our days were long, but we weren't exactly grubby from our efforts. After our short hike and showers, we settled into gin and tonics and Mom's chili and our berths, anticipating an early start across the Georgia Strait.

It borders on the shameful to dispatch the Gulf Islands in a single day -- there are many wonderful anchorages and island attractions to draw cruisers, but our strategy was to sprint north as fast as wind and weather (and Ripple's one-cylinder Yanmar diesel) allowed. We hoped to meet my sailing buddy, Terry Noreault, at Jedediah Island Provincial Park the next day, and so far we were right on track.  Crossing the Georgia Strait can be tricky, a minor crux move for the diminutive Ripple, and Spring weather could certainly thwart our intentions.

There is a military torpedo practice area, designated Whiskey Golf, to the east and northeast of Nanaimo, and when it is active, transit for non-military vessels ist streng Verbotten.  Paper charts make this abundantly clear, but at least on my Jepson eCharts, it is far less evident.  Each time I have transited this area I have heard the authorities hailing vessels who blunder in by mistake, grateful that it wasn't me.

Leaving Nanaimo, we ventured east and then north to skirt Whiskey Golf, and slogged against wind and waves that made for a tedious day. We arrived at Deep Bay on the north-east corner of Jedediah Island just as Terry was arriving in his boat, SailMates, with his friends Barry and Anne in their boat. Terry choreographed a triple-stern-tie-raft-up (because we can, silly!), and we had a great time, enjoying and sharing the prospects for our Alaskan venture and a potluck.  Having meticulously observed our Canadian customs limit on alcohol, we were ill prepared to lubricate the meal as generously as we might have liked to, but Terry was a gracious host, as is his wont, afloat or ashore. We gratefully drank his beer!
Our triple raft-up.  No one can argue this group is not inclusive!
Near the tail end of the trip, Terry, Barry and Anne, and two more of Terry's sailing friends would meet us in Tenedos Bay in Desolation Sound.  I think of these encounters as bookends to the trip. They shared the launch and the near-finish, warm and poignant parentheses to our great adventure.

Jedediah Provincial Marine park is high on my list of favorite places in the Salish Sea.  Shadowed, perhaps, but the allure of the Gulf Islands to the south and Desolation Sound to the north, it is a gem with several nice anchorages and good hiking with interesting history, natural and human. I strongly recommend it.  Don't miss the burial site!





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