Saturday, October 16, 2010

Grappa, Captain Vancouver & rockfish

Hi All

Another month rolls by and we are sending out a brief update on our Pacific North West cruising. We are now in England for a couple of months and Last Mango is in the good hands of Philbrooks in Sidney, BC.

Last Mango’s log for the last month lists some 15 passages with a distance travelled of 450 nautical miles. We were joined for a week in the San Juans by friend Mary from Tennessee and there were many highlights of the trip. Was it the Alaskan crab legs at a wonderful dinner in Seattle, the orca orgy in the Haro Strait, the crab fest supplied by Sheila and Buck in their ‘cabin’ on Garrison Bay while Last Mango was gently swinging at anchor or was it watching the golf in the bar at Roche Harbor with the greatest golfers in the world all trying to lose the US Open? Memorable times is what we all seek, and our 24 hour orca fest certainly qualified. We were royally entertained by J Pod which we encountered three times off San Juan Island. However we finally made our last reporting-in call to US Customs and Border Protection – hooray! And on 22 June quietly slipped across the border and surrendered to the scrutiny of Canadian Customs. Well………..the smoothest border crossing I’ve ever been on! We had no contraband of course, and Susie was desperately trying to get me to eat the last illegal blueberry that had just been discovered lurking in a muffin in the fridge…….but there was no interest in us at all; we made the required phone call and were cleared in, and ceremoniously filed the US Port Log right at the back of the chart cupboard. We soon headed south to Victoria where some of you will remember our land log of 2008 and a great week in such a pleasant city. The beer is still as good! First job was to sign up a new cell phone and internet access; I was ready to meet the AT&T-style issues encountered in San Diego in signing up an American service, but not a bit of it! Like, here is your internet data access and phone sir, all we needed was your credit card. Phew, back on-line with hardly a break.

The orca in the two right-hand pictures is one of the older females known as “grandma”. It is believed that she turns onto her back and flaps her tail on the water to signal to the others that there is food in the area.

Friend Alex from San Francisco arrived in Victoria on the ferry from the US mainland and even supplied the promised contraband, a very fine grappa which is still being eked out; long may it last. We headed into the Gulf Islands and did some exploring, visiting Poet’s Cove on South Pender Island (a great restaurant, recommended by Captain Chuck Leuschner) and Ganges Harbour on Salt Spring Island. The Gulf Islands lie off the south-east of Vancouver Island and have a mild Mediterranean climate, are home to a lot of wildlife, and are the first place for the north-bound cruiser to learn and experience the tidal currents which prevail throughout British Columbia. An essential part of our passage planning is a careful study of tide and current predictions which allow one to pass through the tidal gates which are encountered en route. We moved on to magical Gabriola Island, and met up with more friends where Last Mango was lucky enough to have her own private dock. Time for another crab-fest! We dallied a while on Gabriola in such good company (Bill and Doreen and their friends Robert and Marlana) and on such an interesting island with its petroglyphs from a few thousand years ago. Gabriola is a veritable haven indeed. We then took a long run up the Strait of Georgia to Lund, at the entrance to Desolation Sound. We needed to reconnoitre this area so that we can come back and explore it more fully later in our visit to BC, so we spent a week between Toba Inlet, Cortes and Quadra Islands, and Campbell River. So many fellow boaters to meet, they say that the first thing to get right is the quality of ones canap├ęs……..  The deep waters of Desolation Sound were first charted by Captain Vancouver in 1792; the characteristics of the region are the mountains with year-round glaciers, fjords thousands of feet deep, and pure isolation. I am pleased to say that as we now have our fishing licenses we went out and caught some fish, not quite the big ling cod we were after but nevertheless a lot of fun and plenty of catch and release rockfish.

The above pictures are all at magical Degnen Bay, Gabriola Island, where the otters were very entertaining. There were plenty of hummingbirds; it is so amazing that these tiny flyers can travel thousands of miles in their migration from the Southern US and Central America to Canada and even Alaska.

We returned south to prepare for our European summer and have made arrangements for Last Mango to be looked after in Sidney for some maintenance and one or two improvements which we have in mind. Now we are turning ourselves to the hurly-burly of London and looking forward to catching up with people in Europe over the next two months. We will be back in Canada in September and will attend the International Bar Association annual conference in Vancouver; we will then be in the PNW through the autumn until it gets too cold. In the spring we plan to depart for Alaska, but that is a way away.

David and Susie
Nordhavn 5508 Last Mango
Canada cell (1) 778 977 2440
UK mobiles – David (44) 792 168 4771 Susie (44) 776 977 9541

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