We have spent the last week sailing up the Sunshine Coast and we have been reminded on a daily basis of some of the challenges that come with sailing and this cruising lifestyle.
Our first reminder was when we were sailing out of English Bay after leaving Vancouver. The seas were a little lumpy and uncomfortable and Amelia vomited all over me while she was sitting in my lap. Not long after we got us all cleaned up did Maddie say the dreaded words “I’m not feeling well.” Ellery took Maddie below and tucked her in with a blanket and told her to close her eyes and have a nap. Both girls did end up napping thank goodness and we eventually arrived at our anchorage for the night in Halket Bay, Gambier Island.
Halket Bay is a small anchorage with a large charted rock underwater in the middle that we were careful to avoid when anchoring. No sooner had we anchored when we watched as another sailboat weighed anchor and motored right into the rock 100ft off our beam. Hearing a boat hit a rock is about the worst sound you can hear while out cruising. It was a huge crunch and the sailboat came to a very sudden stop. This sent my heart racing as I felt panicked for them. I reminded myself that we were safely anchored and we would help them if need be.
Ellery immediately jumped in the dinghy and raced over to provide any assistance. The couple were in shock so Ellery coached them through their next steps: Check keel bolts, check engine mounts, check bilge for water. Luckily everything seemed ok and the tide was rising so a few minutes later the Beneateau slipped off the rock and the couple motored away, thanking Ellery and saying “wish us luck.” This was a stark reminder to be careful, use your navigation program and look out and up with your eyes. This couple did have electronic navigation and a depth sounder but for whatever reason they were distracted or not paying close attention to their position. Ellery reassured them that this happens and they now have a little more salt (A.K.A. experience) on their shoulders.
Next it was our chance to make a mistake. Halket Bay is open to the SW which makes it vulnerable to the inflow winds blowing up Howe Sound. The anchorage was lumpy due to the wind waves and the wake from passing BC ferries. Our dinghy ended up getting wedged under the self steering windvane but we didn’t notice until later when we saw the bow section of our dinghy was deflated. There was a tear about 1 inch long and Ellery spent the evening repairing it on deck. It’s not perfect because the dinghy is still losing air and we need to top it up with air a few times a day but it’s good enough for now. The lesson learned is to tie the dinghy up alongside when at anchor instead of letting it drift about near the stern.
A couple days later we were anchoring in Buccaneer Bay and forgot to shorten the dinghy painter line as is standard practice when coming to anchor or up to a dock. The result was the dinghy painter getting wrapped around Arctic Loon’s prop and snapping. Luckily it was very obvious what just happened and I quickly grabbed the end of the remaining dinghy painter and tied it off before it floated away. After we were safely anchored Ellery easily unwrapped the painter from the prop while leaning over the side of the dinghy with a mask and snorkel. I was pretty disappointed that we had made this mistake and so we discussed how to improve next time. We realized that part of the problem is that the girls were distracting us as we were coming to anchor. Now we have a better plan for occupying the girls at critical times such as dropping and hauling up the anchor.
A couple of days later we headed to Deep Bay, Jedediah Island. We anchored here twice last summer and loved it for its calm and peaceful anchorage. Deep Bay is deep and small so it’s best to stern tie to shore using the rings provided in order to accommodate multiple boats safely. I was nervous about anchoring in Deep Bay because in my memory it was a very narrow bay. Our memories are not always accurate and thankfully the bay is not as narrow as I thought. I dropped the anchor while Ellery backed us into position and then jumped in the dinghy to attach our stern line. A couple years ago, another boater showed Ellery a few tips to make stern tying easier. Since then executing a stern tie has been a slick and mostly painless evolution despite having a sailboat that manoeuvres terribly when going astern.
Throughout our 3 nights at anchor we saw a couple boats come into Deep Bay and then leave even though there was lots of room. I started to wonder if maybe people were uncomfortable with stern tying in a small bay. I mentioned this to Ellery and he ended up helping 2 boats stern tie. Jedediah Island is so beautiful that it seemed like a shame if people couldn’t visit it because they were not comfortable with stern tying.
These are just some of the cruising challenges we have encountered on this trip so far and we haven’t even mentioned parenting 2 little girls on a boat! With each challenge, we learn something and try to improve going forward. Ellery really enjoys helping other boaters out and it’s a chance to chat and learn something new as well. One of our favourite parts of cruising is meeting new people.
We ended up thoroughly enjoying Jedediah Island again. We hiked to Home Bay and the girls got to see the old homestead and the wild sheep which roam freely on the island. We had a lovely picnic in the sun next to the homestead. The trail is well worn and mostly flat so the girls hiked most of the way on their own, picking up treasures along the way.
I’m so grateful that Jedediah Island has been designated a park for everyone to enjoy. It is a gem on the coast that I’m sure we will visit again in the future.