Toba Wildernest Resort

We loved this place, and were tempted to stay another day. But we have heard that the weather is good for our planned crossing of Johnstone Strait on Saturday, that we reluctantly leave the dock and head towards the rapids at The Yucultas, Gillard Passsage and the Devils Hole – a voyage that must be timed perfectly to ensure you arrive at or near slack at each one of them.

‘Resort’ may be a little misleading for some. Toba Wildernest has a few cabins for rent, a shower and bathroom, lots of fresh mountain waterfall wall. But what it lacks in ‘resort’ facilities it easily makes up for with spectacular views, great mountain hikes, and the super welcoming hospitality of Kyle himself. Andrea and Rohan, the couple’s delightful little girl, were still away at school in Alberta, but Kyle made us welcome, and was ready to help anyone on the dock with boat issues. We hiked to the waterfall where Kyle gets his water for the dock, and which powers his home-built hydro-electric power station to supply the cabins with power. I fixed a power supply issue for the down-riggers on the whaler (lucky I thought to try them here, and not when we are at the fishing grounds!), and later we enjoy the conviviality of drinking spiced rum around a campfire Kyle built with the crew from the other three boats on the dock.

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Cortes Bay and Desolation Sound

A relaxing day at the SYC out station at Cortes Bay. The weather is again calm, sunny and warm. The rain is supposed to come back in a few days, so we want to make the most of it. Shrimping in the usual spot outside the bay was disappointing – just five shrimps in two hauls. This time it seems it is not us at fault – everyone is having a lean time, and we learn later that the commercial shrimpers have just left the area having vacuumed everything into their nets. It’ll take a week or two to recover. However, we enjoy the walks to the lookout on Granite Head, get some more of the boat hull waxed, and assist a family whose skiff engine failed while shrimping with a tow back to the out station.

The next day, now June 21st the longest day, and we are heading off to Toba Wildernest – a resort we have not visited before, but whose owners, Kyle and Andrea we met while on vacation in February at Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. As we set out  it was another calm, warm sunny day. On days like this, travelling through the exquisitely beautiful Desolation Sound and Waddington Channel, I remember exactly why we love boating in this area so much. With so few boats up here at this time, the VHF radio is silent, and we feel we have the whole area to ourselves.

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Garden Bay and Cortes

Monday afternoon was forecast to be light winds, so around Noon, we set off to cross the Strait of Georgia. This was probably our calmest crossing the Strait ever! Five hours with barely a ripple – amazing considering the excitement we’ve had crossing this stretch of open water in past years. Arriving at the SYC out station at Garden Bay, Pender Harbor, we were initially shocked that we couldn’t see the out station docks in their usual place! The reason – a 164ft mega yacht called Evviva was moored at the dock, almost completely filling one half of the dock space! Besides us, there was just one other boat docked – a beautiful new Fleming F55, which was dwarfed by the Evviva. Usually, mega yachts make for lousy dock neighbors as they must run generators all night – not nice when you are moored alongside them. But these folks were considerate, and the generators went off over night.

Tuesday afternoon had another light wind forecast so we set off for Cortes. This is a five hour voyage for us, and amazingly, the Malaspina Strait was also flat calm for the entire journey! We arrived late afternoon at Cortes to enjoy a warm sunny evening with the four other boats moored here. This place will be full of boats in about two weeks time, so we make the most of the quiet time to chat and clean up the boat.

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2012 Summer Cruise – Starting Out

We left the dock at Skyline Marina, Anacortes late Friday afternoon, with a plan to spend the night at Henry Island, before heading to Bedwell Harbor in the morning to check in at Canadian Customs. However, we had the first day spoilt by two incidents, both of which could have spelled an early end to the trip!

First, right outside the marina at Skyline, I stopped the boat to allow Rebecca, who was driving the Whaler, to come astern, climb aboard and rig up the tow. A 40ft Carver or something, driven by an absolute MORON, chose to accelerate immediately outside the harbor entrance and bring his boat, followed by a 4ft wake, very close to where we were maneuvering. Luckily I spotted the impending tsunami, yelled for Rebecca to back away and watch out, and then jumped back into the cockpit just as the giant wave hit English Rose, and flooded the cockpit. I would have been washed away had I not jumped, and we were lucky not have the whole boat flooded. It’s really hard to be friendly when affected by inconsiderate power boaters who drive around at speed without any thought for what is happening behind them.  I gave a few choice words across VHF on 16.

We had a nice cruise to Henry Island, but on arriving we had incident number 2. As we walked Sophie ashore, an off leash dog from the only other boat on the dock came charging around aiming straight for us – its owners chasing it and yelling at us to beware. As the dog arrived, he circled us a couple of times, then attacked Sophie.  Our poor little dog was shrieking as I stepped in to drag the attacker off her. Grabbing him by the scruff of his neck with two hands (he was quite a bit bigger than she), I tore him away and slammed him to the ground in a submission maneuver until his owners caught up. They were full of apologies, and fortunately Sophie was unharmed, but shaken. We had visions of our holiday ending in an emergency vet visit, or worse …

Despite this inauspicious start, we left Henry Island, checked in at Bedwell and arrived at Ganges later in the morning. Ganges was very quiet, and although it was market day, usually a busy, fun and crowded affair, the whole place seemed deserted. Are we just early in the season? Is it the weather (which of course has been awful recently), or just the malaise of the economy?

I discovered my new Garmin electronic chart for Canada was no longer functioning. So we decided to head to Nanaimo  where there is a West Marine, to try to get it replaced. So Sunday saw us cruising against a 22 knot wind to take Dodd Narrows on the late afternoon slack. We stayed at the Nanaimo Yacht Club, who extend a welcome to visiting yacht clubs. On Monday morning, the good folks at Nanaimo West Marine did the right thing by this customer. Although I had no receipts or anything with me, they happily exchanged the SD card for one that worked.  That’s an example of perfect customer care in my book. A big thanks to the staff at Nanaimo West Marine.

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Cortes Bay and then Home

The weather improved at last, and we spend five lazy days at the SYC outstation at Cortes Bay. There’s a revolving population of boaters there, and over five days, you get to meet a lot of different people. We put out the shrimp pots most days and did quite well. A couple of guys on the dock even caught some nice Springs right outside the entrance to the bay, which was really a surprise. In fact my view of Cortes as a destination changed when one guy, in a single trip one morning to the Twin Islets just out of the Bay, caught two Springs, saw a Black Bear with cubs, a Black Wolf, lifted a load of shrimps, plus an octopus and two spiny urchins. After hearing this, we got the fishing gear out again to try our luck in the same spot, but really with a fridge full of salmon, we just hoped to see the Bears and the Wolf. But we weren’t so lucky.

We ran the Whaler to Melanie Cove in Prideau Haven, Desolation Sound, to visit some friends rafted up there for a great afternoon cocktail party. Prideau was absolutely packed with anchored boats, but despite this, the fantastically beautiful view beyond the coves just overrides the mass of boaters beneath.

We left Cortes and headed for Pender Harbor, Garden Bay for a night. Always a fun place, with the weather now sunny and warm, we went to the lake for a cool freshwater swim. Next day, our fourth Georgia Strait crossing in six weeks, which was calm all but a few miles when we lost shelter from Texada Island, and enjoyed a good rock and roll session for an hour or so. Moored to one of the new buoys in Montague Harbor, we spot three other American Tugs. We know the owners of two of them, so we organized and impromptu Happy Hour for all on English Rose, which was great fun.

We always like to end our Cruises North with a few days relaxing at Henry Island, the SYC outstation at Roche Harbor. This we did, until we headed back to Anacortes to return to our slip, our Big Trip over for this year. Despite our inauspicious start and a great deal of rain and cold weather, we have had a wonderful time, visited a lot of new places,  met a lot of new people and clocked up 750 nautical miles.

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Heriott Bay

We started late from Waiatt Bay due to a 2pm slack at Surge Narrows. We always do those rapids at slack! We set course for Heriott Bay to stay for a night on their dock. In the past, we’d prefer to anchor in the Rebecca Spit anchorage, but we needed to re-supply the galley from the grocery store, and wanted to hang out for cocktails in the pub at the Heriott Bay Inn. As reported in Waggoner Guide, Heriott Bay Inn and Marina have new owners, and the restaurant and deck area are now first class. The old docks still require a lot of care and a sense of humor (no power, one hose pipe for the whole marina, wobbly docks, etc.) but hopefully will get some attention in the future.

My mission was to get positively the last fishing expedition of our trip to the spot I’d been told about several weeks earlier by a guy at Cortes who was maxing out on Springs every day. Heriott Bay was a close dock for the early morning ride out into Sutil Channel. This turned out to be a great fishing spot – I hooked one large Spring within an hour, though lost it trying to net the fish next to the boat after ten minutes of reeling in. Two more salmon hooked, but not retained as they were too small, and then one 24lb Spring I finally landed after frantically working both landing net and fishing rod determined not to lose this one. My view of fishing in the Desolation Sound area is now changed! I almost feel like a real fisherman now!

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Waiatt Bay, Octopus Islands

After almost a week of rain, the sun finally re-appeared and we relaxed for a whole day in Waiatt Bay giving us a chance to do the hike to the lake for a (cold) freshwater swim. The blue sky was such a novelty I just had to photograph it lest we not see it again …

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