Monday, June 20, 2011


We’ve been trying to leave for Desolation Sound for a couple of months now but finally we’re on our way.  Friday we got up early – well – early for us – in order to catch the slack current at Gabriola Passage.  We arrived there just as it was turning so we could have been up a little earlier or hurried a little more on the way.  The tide tables aren’t 100% accurate.  According to Ports and Passes we should have been ahead of the change but we were actually a little behind it.  I don’t trust all the electronic tide predictions mainly because I usually have two or three choices side by side on the screen, each displaying different predictions.  I’m not sure why I think the printed version is inherently more accurate but it feels more reassuring to hold a several hundred page book and see the times in black and white.

We had a pretty lumpy crossing although the waves weren’t all that high.  According to the automated buoys at Halibut Bank and Sentry Shoal the waves never got past 0.6 meters but their angle and timing were awkward.  We were taking them on the transom and that’s always problematic because the boat tends to surf down the face of a wave until it buries its nose which brings it up short and then the stern slides sideways down the face of the next wave.  Its an uncomfortable motion, constantly speeding up, slowing down and slewing sideways.  Marilyn’s stopped up ears likely make her more susceptible to motion sickness so she had a pretty unpleasant afternoon. 

We arrived in Pender Harbour around 6:00 Friday and tied up at Anne’s dock across the channel from Madeira Bay.  Finally I got a good daylight look at Kivak, her custom fibreglass sailboat.  Kivak is named after a little Russian village on the east coast somewhere north of Japan.  The name is in honour of the builder who was a Russian refugee who jumped ship in Vancouver and worked in a shipyard there sometime in the late 60’s.  He eventually amassed enough money to start building his own boat but by the time he got the mechanicals installed he had pledged it to a bank in support of a friend’s business.  The business failed, the bank took the boat and Anne and her husband bought the boat from the bank.  They finished the boat by fitting out the interior and wanted to give her a name that would recognize her Russian heritage.  They painted the boat themselves including the name so it had to be easy for Anne to letter.  She said she searched the atlas for Russian names from the right region of the country that had only straight sided letters and finally came up with Kivak.  She’s a very stout and at the same time attractive vessel – the Russian obviously knew his art. 

We spent the weekend with Anne and then moved to anchor in Hospital Bay so we could join the flotilla from SNSYC that is on its way to Desolation Sound.  They left this morning (Monday) for Princess Louisa but we decided not to join them.  We were just up there a couple of months ago and there’s a lot more to see.  We also bumped into (literally) some folks that we met at Trawlerfest this spring.  As we were leaving Anne’s dock so she could give us a tour of the harbour we were hailed by Alice J.  They were idling in Garden Bay so we idled over to join them and briefly rafted up together.  Jim had put Betty on the plane in Victoria and she is due into Pender Harbour this afternoon.  In the meantime he has been anchored in Gerrans Bay so that is where we are now too.

Pender Harbour is a tiny little bit of civilization but an incredibly large anchorage at the same time.  There are about 6 usable little bays that lead off the main access to the village of Madeira Park which appears to be the prime centre of commerce.  Unlike so many of the places we have visited, Pender Harbour’s water isn’t littered with mooring balls so there are actually several places for us to drop our anchor. 

It takes quite a bit of room to anchor safely.  Right now we’re in just under 30 feet of water with 150 feet of chain out.  If you add 6 or so feet of height to the bow that’s a little under 5:1 scope but we’re at low tide.  As the tide comes in we’ll add another 11 or 12 feet of depth leaving us in around 40 feet of water for something just over 3:1 scope.  So we can’t really have any less chain out and at low tide we swing in excess of a 350’ circle by the time you add our scope plus the length of the boat.

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