Nanaimo, Vancouver Island
Time to shelve our San Juan/Gulf Islands guide books until October. Nanaimo is the cut off point for the various guides we have for the islands. A solid stepping off juncture to the north.
Yesterday we left our anchorage at North Cove on Thetis island and motored across flat, almost windless waters north through Gabriola Passage. We timed our transit for slack tide and went through about 15 minutes ahead of full slack with no other boats in sight. Waters were very still except at Josef Point, the narrowest slot in the passage, there were a handful of eddys and whirls of water as we exited the east side of the passage but they had little impact on us. In various guide book descriptions Gabriola Passage conjures up visions of Deception Pass on Whidbey Island. It is a small passage where the waters of the Strait of Georgia and the waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca are exchanged through the Gulf Islands. It is the transit point from the protected Gulf Islands out to the Strait of Georgia, a very narrow shallow slot through which an impressive amount of sea runs with the shifting tides. Certainly want to hit it at a slack tide, extra points for hitting it on a windless morning. Our guides report that current against wind can stack up the seas on the east side of the passage to 2 meters. In addition to contending with the waters there is also the traffic of log booms and tugs to contend with. Very slow moving tugs pulling long rafts of logs wend their way through these passages, but not this morning as we passed through. We did hail out a "securite" as we made our way through to see if there were mariners coming from the other side, but it was all clear, just us and a handful of sea birds.
We spent the next couple\ hours motoring north and west, along the length of Gabriola Island with Vancouver in the distance to the east, dropping in and out of sight as clouds moved through the city. On the water the sun came out, sharp and warm. As we got closer to Nanaimo we picked up the radio chatter of a team moving log booms with barges. Charlie, Bruce, Steven and John ever so politely negotiating the various tasks to be done.
"Oh, hey there Bruce, what do you think about closing up that bag over there?."
"Got ya there Charlie, sounds good. I'm thinking of running a safety line over to that raft to the north."
On it went for hours, probably the most polite workers in the timber industry, Charlie would suggest something to Bruce, who thought that was a great idea and eagerly tackle it, or report back that the task was already done. When a couple of them were ready to call it a day and head back to the 'barn' there was a about 10 minutes of conversation to be sure they weren't leaving at an inopportune time for the others. No sarcasm, no cursing, no snide chatter, all very positive and upbeat. Pro, old school operators.
We anchored in Nanaimo harbor, across the way from the commercial docks, in a cove between Newcastle and Protection islands. There are a 15 or so other boats either anchored or moored here. Pretty calm over here and protected. Lot of traffic from Nanaimo out to Newcastle Island, there is a small water taxi running out there every 20 minutes or so and the weather was beautiful yesterday, a saturday, so I think they were running tourists out to walk the park.
It was a gorgeous summerlike day yesterday. After anchoring and lunch in the cockpit in full sun, we took the dinghy over to the commercial dock and wandered around town. Picked up a few groceries and walked across town and through a neighborhood to find a fish market. Picked up a nice piece of salmon for dinner last night and have enough for dinner tonight. Nice walk but much further than we had expected. After the early start and all the excitement of the trip through the passage it was a bit much and we had a good nap when we returned to Tumbleweed.
Today is overcast and raining lightly. I'm writing this from the comfort of Tumbleweed but soon will head over to town, across the harbor, to upload this and hopefully a couple photos to the website. The trip over in the dinghy looks like it's going to be a wet and cold trip.