Conundrum has just returned from an epic journey to the north! Throughout our amazing trip we put 47.9 hours on Conundrum’s engines and covered a grand total of 463 nautical miles! Our journey took us from Seattle, to the San Juan Islands of Washington, up through the Gulf Islands, to Sunshine Coast of Canada, over to Vancouver and gorgeous Indian Arm, across Port Sidney on Vancouver Island, and finally back to America through the San Juan Islands again.
We began our trip on Friday 8/18 with two days in Roche Harbor. Weather forecast was a bit snotty for the Strait of Juan de Fuca so we opted for Deception Pass with our friends on Be-Knotty and L’Atitude. It was all good until we got hit on our starboard stern quarter by a wake from a tour boat that ignored our call through the pass and passed us right in the middle of the pass during a moderate flood current! Conundrum handled well but I did have to throttle down and correct back to starboard into the center of the pass as we already chose a path favoring the left side of the pass. Roche Harbor was an impressive start to the trip. We had to privilege of traveling with three amazing musicians that provided unbelievable entertainment for us all weekend long! Thank you so much to Will Champlin, Tim Moyer, and Chai McLean for providing world class entertainment for us and an amazing ad hoc show for the Meydenbauer Yacht Club rendezvous. You guys rock!
Our next destination was Echo Bay in Sucia Island. We cruised over in the morning and spent two peaceful nights on the hook rafted up with Splash Dance as we waited for the Tyee Yacht Club Goin’ North fleet to join us on Monday, the second day of our stay in Sucia! Echo Bay provided us with amazing sunrises as well as our first opportunity to train our boat dog Brit to be a dinghy dog! That’s right, we had to dinghy Brit to shore for her potty breaks and she did amazing! Monday we hiked over to Fossil Bay and then over to Shallow Bay. That evening the weather was perfect and we circumnavigated the island in Splash Dance’s dinghy. The TYEE flotilla arrived Monday evening and we all prepared for our trip across the border into Canada and up to Salt Spring Island.
Following Echo Bay, we joined with the TYEE fleet and headed across the border to Ganges Marina on Salt Spring Island in Canada for two nights. Ganges was a cute town with good food and even better shopping! Seaplanes landed regularly and the flight path was right over the marina! They came so close on some approached that it seemed like we could reach out and touch the planes as they zoomed by. The TYEE fleet had left a day before us and spent a night up in Ladysmith. We got up early to meet them as they left Ladysmith on the way to Nanaimo. Our plan was to ride with the flotilla through the Dodd Narrows and based on the weather in the Strait of Georgia, make a decision to cross or spend a night in Nanaimo with TYEE. Turned out the winds laid down enough for us to cross with an 8-10 kt NW wind and once we negotiated the Dodd Narrows we parted ways with TYEE until later in the month, when we would meet again in Port Sidney, and we motored the rest of the day up to the Backeddy Marina and Resort in Egmont, BC.
Backeddy is one of our favorite places we’ve been to in the PNW. First off you must time your arrival with slack current. The max flood on the day of our arrival was 12.4 kt! That would make for an exciting docking experience! We timed the slack perfectly and pulled in for a 2 night stay right at 4:30p on Thursday 8/24. Backeddy was quiet and very relaxing. We did not have many neighbors during our stay and we were able to do some well timed dinghy hijinks through the Skookumchuck rapids during slack.
On Saturday we left the peacful confines of Egmont, headed back down the Agamemnon Channel, along the norther edge of the Strait of Georgia, and into Vancouver for a four night stay at Coal Harbour Marina right in downtown Vancouver! Coal Harbour was a nice juxtaposition with Backeddy and we enjoyed the sights, sounds, and food of Vancouver!
Sunday morning we cruised up to Port Moody BC to pick up Conundrum’s prior owner Tony. He took us on a fantastic guided tour of Indian Arm. I couldn’t help to think that Indian Arm reminded me of a mini-Puget Sound with it’s combination of islands, coves for anchoring, and marina/outstations but perhaps even prettier!
Our final night in Vancouver we had dinner at one of our favorite restaurants on the west coast, the Blue Water Cafe. It was a perfect ending to our urban getaway on Condundrum.
On Wednesday 8/30, we left Vancouver behind us and we cruised across the strait in 10-15 kt SSE winds and re-engaged with the TYEE flotilla at Port Sidney. As we cruised through Active Pass we were met with a brief rain shower (the only rain during our entire trip) at the entrance to the pass but it didn’t dampen our mood as at the same time we saw a small pod of orcas cross our path heading south. Port Sidney was a pleasant surprise. The marina and surrounding town was much larger and more modern than we expected. Once we realized the Victoria Airport is located there as well it all made more sense why the amenities were up to date and well maintained!
After a nice breakfast in Sidney the TYEE flotilla split up. A couple of our boats cruised across to Roche Harbor for the weekend while the rest of us made our way across the border and into Reid Harbor on Stuart Island. Once we cleared customs we continued into Reid Harbor with Splash Dance and we rafted with Ocean Dream who had made their way across a bit earlier in the day. The weather Thursday afternoon was perfect and we took advantage of it. We piled into two dinghies and made a dinghy run over to Roche Harbor for some seafood and a drink! A bottled of champagne and a pail o’prawns later and we made our way back to Reid Harbor. Friday we packed up a picnic lunch and hiked to Turn Point and the lighthouse. If was quite a hike but we made it up and back without too much trouble. Brit made the trip with us and made it all the way back form the lighthouse to the schoolhouse .7 km from the dock before laying down for a well deserved rest!
Friday our small flotilla grew by one as Aventura met us and added to the growing raft up to Ocean Dream. The weather was perfect, the winds light and we had no problems rafting to Ocean Dream and their massive 125 lb Rocna anchor! Ocean Dream had a successful crabbing day and treated the rest of us to delicious dungeness crab! We also all got a crash course in the best and fastest way to clean and cook crab! Thank you Bonnie and Kevin!
Saturday 9/2 the final three remaining in the TYEE group weighed anchor and cruised across to Lopez Island for the final night of the Tyee Yacht club’s 2017 Goin’ North cruise. The entrance to Fisherman Bay on Lopez is tricky and not for the faint of heart. We waited until there was enough water in the channel to snake our way in and tie up at the Islander Marine Center. Happy Ours visited us from Roche and several of us walked up to town for an ice cream. For dinner we cooked steaks, drank wine, told stories, and celebrated a successful cruise.
Sunday was the last day of our adventure. We parted with our TYEE friends but looked forward to meeting up with Be-Knotty once again on Orcas at Rosario Resort. The winds kicked up as we entered Rosario and with a little help from Tony from Be-Knotty we were able to negotiate a tight entrance and find our way into our slip through the 15-20 kt NW winds! The final night of our adventure we had a great dinner on Orcas at the Madrona Bar and Grill. Our three week adventure ended as it started. Good food, good drinks, and great company with our friends Tony and Vicki. As if this last night wasn’t perfect enough, our trip home was through perfect calm conditions south through the Strait of Juan de Fuca and as we passed Smith Island, a humpback whale crossed our bow and surfaced three times as if to say safe travels home!