Summer is showing us her wild side this year with a June storm that felt like January!! The barometer took a dive and OMOO took off, rounding up under reefed sails in 30KNOT GUSTS!! What a ride!!
We left False Creek Fisherman’s Wharf around noon in drizzle and light wind, but by the time we got around Point Atkinson the wind was howling through the rigging. Making the turn we pulled out the main to 2/3 and the jib to 1/3. Turns out we should have reefed down the main a little more. Taking the gusts abeam OMOO was overpowered by the main and ignored the wheel and angle of the rudder. She rounded up and dumped the wind. Getting past Horseshoe Bay in a hurry calmed things down to a dull roar and we headed for Hawlkett Bay on Gambier Island. Great shelter in those winds!!
The sun was kind the next morning and we were off to a rendezvous with Daydream. Getting there was a mix of sun, rain, wind and logs. But it was all worth the trip. We rafted up with JD in the middle of a log sorting operation!! Soooo interesting to see all this machinery close up and dudes hard at work.
OMOO’S next stop with be a haul out in spring 2023.
Like any exciting trip there is always the clean up after. As sailors and boat owners we all experience the joy of taking friends and family out on the water for a day, weekend or week.
It always boggles my mind that cases of beer, bottles of wine and spirits can always find their way onto a boat, but the empties never off the boat. I also enjoy scouring the boat after our guests leave to find what they have forgotten. It’s not uncommon to find the extra pair of sunglasses, a beach towel, jacket, shoe or hat. What’s really puzzling are the big ticket items. There’s the telephoto lens of a $10,000 camera, the paddle from a kayak and a wedding ring. Haha, kidding about the wedding ring… that may not have been a mistake.
The most common thing left behind are the repairs. I apologize ahead of time to the Skipper cause this isn’t fun, or funny for him. The last trip of the summer I brought along a gorgeous young friend who stepped onto the boat and caused the crew to get completely distracted.
We wound our way out of a busy harbor, dodging sport fishing boats, a few kayakers and a very large B.C. ferry. The next day after setting sail in 15-20 knots on a broad reach, with gusts up to 25 knots, we were all giddy with adrenaline from blasting across the waves with the sun on our shoulders and the sails full of power.
As the sun sunk, and the wind eased we turned the boat toward a bay to anchor for the night. As everything settled down, the sails were pulled in, the engine started and we put all the loose ends away, we competed for attention from our attractive guest. Then…
THUNK, thunk and thunk again. The crew yelled, “you don’t want to see how big that log is.” The Skipper looked back, to his dismay a 20 foot long log, at least a foot in circumference, bobbed in the wake of the stern. He slowed the boat to check on the bilge, no water was coming in and no apparent damage could be seen. The steering was intact since the boat was keeping course.
Revving the engine up again, we could feel the new vibration of the propellar. Pushing the rpms a little more and the vibration increased. “Damn it!” We had all taken our eyes off the water at exactly the wrong time.
We always make sure somebody is looking ahead for obstacles on the surface of the water. Where we sail in the Pacific Northwest there are always logs floating around, either set free from the beaches at high tide, or from log booms that break loose.
OMOO has a feathering prop, so it’s a tricky fix. Next spring before we head out, the boat will get hauled out, the prop taken off and shipped away to get repaired. The old spare prop will be dug out from under the floor where it’s lived for the last ten years and put on for the summer.
We really were lucky, as those logs can cause so much more damage. A log that size can take the rudder out, or punch a hole in the hull.
The Skipper and crew had some rip roaring sails this summer with taking the sails out fully in some big wind. Now we’re wondering if the new “ish” jib is too big, since the sheets would snap against the front panels of isoglass on the dodger. Later in the season the isoglass was held together with more and more gorilla tape and patched with pieces of hard clear plastic saved from covering our salon table top to protect the wood surface.
Now the dodger is removed and off to be repaired, OMOO is tarped over and covered to protect her from the rain and snow.
The pocket book takes a hit with the repairs and getting the boat ready for next summer is a full time job. Hershey is kept busy, which he loves. When you’re retired and a boat owner, there are no days off!!
A return to HOWE SOUND was the highlight of September sailing. There has never been a time in Howe Sound when we didn’t have wind.
There’s nothing like introducing new people to sailing, we LUV LUV LUV it. My dear friend Yumna’s first time aboard took off from Horseshoe Bay.
Sideways Sally climbed back onboard, ditching the day job for a blissful weekend. We crossed over to anchor in Gambier, dodging ferries and sport fishing boats.
The next day the morning light crept over Gambier, spilling warmth into the cockpit while we devoured breakfast. The sunshine and wind reaching into the anchorage promising great sailing and exploring.
Outside the bay the wind was 15-20knots with gusts up to 25knots. We pulled out the sails, reefed down and set the course for a beam reach. YEEHAW, away she went. OMOO sails so well in these conditions and we were quickly up to 7-8 knots.
Yumna and I kept switching sides to help with tacking and putting our weight on the uphill side. We braced our feet on the cockpit table and felt the power of the wind take us for a ride. Yumna said, “It feels like we’re vertical.” It was a rodeo, with the gusts heeling the boat over, washing the windows, and throwing some loose items around in the cabin. “Nothing broke, it can’t fall off the floor!!”
We were all grinning from ear to ear, but not wanting to scare our new sailor either. I put my arm around her and reassured her that this is what it’s all about, and that we’re safe. The Skipper reminded her there’s this huge heavy keel that keeps us upright and pointed out how the boat “rounds up” when the wind spills out of the sails and she straightens up until the next gust.
Howe Sound has numerous islands so we knew the thrill would be over when we got in the lee of Bowen Island. All the marinas in Howe Sound were chockablock full for the Sept long weekend. We all agreed it would be prudent to get to Keats Island and anchor in Plumper Cove before it filled up as well.
After setting the anchor, we dingied into shore. The crew went hiking and SS went pleasantly beach combing and enjoying some “alone time,” savouring the sun and the sand.
After returning to OMOO, the anchorage got very dark and quiet, with some rain starting to splatter on the topsides shortly after we were done cooking dinner on the BBQ.
Out came the bluetooth and the tunes. Our favorite game is playing music, taking turns on suggesting songs and making an extremely eclectic play list. What a peaceful way to end our day.
Howe Sound welcomes us back every year, the wind and warmth are pure joy for sailors old and new.
See you in the spring, you perfectly beautiful treasure.
Alli set foot on OMOO for the first time, taking a leap of faith with sailors she did not know. As the saying goes, “any friend of yours is a friend of ours.” Janaye, thanks for bringing Alli into our sailing life!!
A fun background story: Sideways Sally used to babysit Alli’s Mom, Tracey, along with Janaye’s Mom. Also, in 2020, both Moms and SS went on an adventure together to Cozumel, Mexico, where we all babysat each other!! So the connections run WAY, WAY back… so fun!! SS gets a BIG KICK out of this story.
Alli came to life when she was on the wheel on Day 2. We had wind on the nose at 15-20knots. We showed the girls how to reef down and point the boat into the wind. This required several tacks to get past the narrow channel between Galiano Island and Secretary, then Wallace Islands and into Trincomali Channel. By the third or fourth tack Alli was nailing it!!
It was a celebration on board to have both girls take to sailing with ease.
The wonderful week we had with these young ladies will never be forgotten and we can’t wait to have them back. OMOO will remember your late night giggles forever!!
There is no bigger thrill for the Skipper and 1st Mate than having new crew learn the ropes on OMOO. Janaye and her Mom Jackie visited in 2018 and got acquainted with being on the water. At the time Janaye was 10. She took to the sailboat like a natural and before her short visit was over she was asking tons of questions and soaking up information like a sponge. She started reminding us of all the safety steps to the routine on the boat as we docked for her departure. We will never forget those early days.
What happens if we’re at anchor during the night and there is a hole in the boat? What happens if there’s a big wind and we tip over? If there’s 50feet of water and a 10foot tide how do we know how much chain to put down? Where does our poo go when we pump the toilet? ON and ON it went. It was awesome!!
She was amazing then, and she is amazing now. Four years later she returned to OMOO for a week, bringing sunshine and wind with her from Manitoba, along with her best friend! The trip for both girls were birthday gifts in 2020, delayed due to the pandemic. In 2022 it happened.
The boat was full of youth and exuberance. Janaye and Alli had taken their PCOC (Pleasure Craft Operator’s Certificate) in anticipation of taking the wheel and getting into the wind. Chase some wind we did!!
We got started in Nanaimo where OMOO and crew met us getting off the ferry. The girls were surprised and intrigued to meet Paul, our imported crew from Britain. They fell in love with his accent and he entertained them with no end to his antics. At first they required some translation to understand him but once they got used to him they got along just fine.
The first trick he pulled out of his hat was a quick dive into the water after he flipped his sunglasses over the side by accident. We were all sitting in the cockpit chatting and laughing, telling tall tails and sailor stories. It all happened so fast, he turned and slithered between the life lines and was over the gunnel in a flash. It was like he rehearsed it all. Then slithered back onto the dock like a slimy lizard and back into the boat.
Everyone was in stitches, except Paul. He lost a 65dollar or pound (we’re never quite sure which currency he talks in) pocket knife to save his 35dollar or pound glasses.
Then next day we timed the slack at Dodd Narrows and went off into the wind which was steady at SE10-12 knots. We had full sail out, tacking back and forth toward Thetis Island.
It’s a total mystery how one transplant from the prairies brings other transplants, plunks them on a sailboat and viola, they stick like gorilla tape!! (that’s an inside joke for OMOO crew)
Janaye was on the wheel all day and it was like she’d never left the boat. She picked right up where she’d left off and was handling the wheel like a pro. The whole crew was cheering her on, and she was in her element. We had such a good time watching her blossom as a young sailor.
Whether she was on the wheel, trimming the sails, playing chess, dancing below or jamming on the bus, she was great!
We love you Janaye and we’re so happy you came back.
The evening sun casts a glow on the home of the owners of Lagoon Cove, overlooking the marina and surrounding bay. The next day we woke up to low cloud and fog, which would determine when and if Sideways Sally was able to fly out to catch a connecting flight to Vancouver. When will she stop this madness? Never, cause she loves wandering and if she has to stay in one place too long she gets pretty antsy!!
I called the Wilderness Seaplanes as instructed when I booked with them, to confirm the flight the day of. The report on the weather in Port Hardy wasn’t too promising so the dispatcher asked me to take picture of Lagoon Cove so they could see what conditions looked like there.
Sea planes fly visually so they cannot be safe if fog and low clouds obstruct the view of the many mountains they fly between. Around 11:00 the clouds lifted slightly and some warmth started shining through, chasing the fog away. I sent another photo of the bay to dispatch and an hour later they messaged that they were leaving Port Hardy to pick me up.
Paul helped me lug my bags to an adjacent dock that was free for seaplanes to land. We sat and waited for the sound of buzzing coming from the sky.
A plane came into sight and circled the area a couple of times, not unusual as they look for the best place to land. The plane would have to land on the outer basin of the bay and taxi in to the protected cove. As he started to descend it became obvious it was a goose. I’d only ever seen one land before and it was way up north on Haikai Island, bringing passengers to the Haikai Institute, a research center.
The plane landed on it’s belly and slowly made it’s way in between crab traps, turning to “belly up” to the dock. The pilot leaned out his window as he got close and yelled, “grab the wing and turn me in.” Not knowing exactly what he meant, Paul and I grabbed the wing where we could reach it and dragged the goose closer to the dock. The pilot jumped out with a big smile on his face and stated, “I haven’t been in here for 25 years!”
Neil informed us that he’d been living in Thailand for the last few decades, and since he couldn’t work after age 65 there, he came back to Canada to fly for Wilderness Seaplanes. He also said the longer they waited for the clouds to lift, the fewer options there were so he jumped in the Goose and headed over to Lagoon Cove.
Click the link below for the history of this amazing plane.
What a totally unexpected thrill this was for me!! I climbed into the jump seat and away we went, over the many islands of the Broughtons, past Alert Bay and into Port Hardy.
“Wilderness Seaplanes is the last commercial operator world wide of this famous amphibious aircraft, the classic ‘boats’ from a glorious era of travel. Folks come from all over the world just to ride around for a few hours in the Goose!”
“This was a once in a life time trip,” I was thinking to myself, or not!!
Come along on Sideways Sally adventures wherever they take her.
Hauling anchor and setting off from Port Neville in the morning light with the many forested hillsides and in the foreground a commercial oyster farm.
The skipper likes layers, and the crew likes to be naked. Well, he does keep his pants on. What a hoot these two are, and Sideways Sally is so happy that it worked out with crew so the Skipper could wander this summer.
We had a short jaunt on Johnstone Strait to take us into Chatham Channel between West Cracroft Island and the mainland, past Minstrel Island and into Lagoon Cove nestled between Farquharson Island a East Cracroft.
The marina staff are prompt to answer the VHF and guide us to our slip. Kelly welcomed us back and Dan was busy on the docks which were lively with docked boats and more on the way. This is a welcome contrast to our last visit in 2020 when the pandemic had restricted American boaters from entering Canada, and visitors in general were discouraged to travel to remote destinations.
In 2020 I featured Lagoon Cove Marina in a series of three articles titled “Small Marina, Big Personality,” published in 48North. Visitors were trickling in and most made a point of stopping at Lagoon Cove to support the new owners. Click on link to read the article.
In 2022 Lagoon Cove was back in full swing, and what a delightful site to see. By the end of the day the docks were full and vibrant with activity.
The traditional potluck happy hour was happening at 5PM and people were headed up the ramp with armfuls of food and drink. Dan and Kelly provided delicious fresh prawns, along with tasty treats from everyone. Meeting and chatting with new friends is exactly what boaters look forward to. I chatted with four gentlemen from Oregon, who take their Hunter 34 boat from the Columbia River to points north. They called themselves the Cinnamon Seekers. The were on the hunt for the best cinnamon buns on the West Coast. So far they voted Nancy’s Bakery in Lund at the top of the list, along with a close second bakery in Powell River. What a time!!
Sandwiched between the scenic back drop of the surrounding islands on one side and the rustic workshop and docks high on the pilings on the other made for an afternoon of happiness and sunshine.
Click on an image below and scroll through for full frame.
Thanks so much Dan and Kelly for making this place special and providing boaters with a return to the great sense of community on the water. You took over a marina during the challenges of the pandemic and stuck it out for a couple of tough years. OMOO and crew are so happy to be back and see Lagoon Cove back in full swing.
Sideways Sally always finds a way to get back to OMOO and the Canada Day weekend turned into quite a thrill for ocean and air travel.
We got off Johnstone Strait between West and East Thurlow, past Blind Bay. We could not continue in the direction of our destination due to Green Point rapids which requires timing for slack water. We were happy to turn right to Shoal Bay.
The quaint cottages of Shoal Bay welcome guests who fly in and out. The government dock has been maintained since it’s past days as a cannery.
According to Wikipedia: Shoal Bay was a cannery town in the Discovery Islands region of the South Coast of British Columbia in Canada, located on the northeast side of East Thurlow Island, at the bay of the same name. Once the largest town on the western coast of Canada, Shoal Bay was a hub for mining and forestry.
After anchoring in our usual spot, Paul and I lowered the dingy and made our way to the dock. We walked up to the grounds to say Hi to Mark, who came to this amazing spot 20+ years ago on a vacation, and never left.
The cottage that normally hosts happy hour looked too quiet. There were no flower pots hanging out for the humming birds. We found Mark, he was busy firing up the pizza oven in his outdoor kitchen.
We found out he’s been struggling to find insurance for his service of happy hour drinks and food, which now is BYOB only. Such interference in small businesses is sad to see, as it is so vital to have places like this for the tourism industry.
These remote marinas are just quietly existing, counting on the few summer months to make enough to sustain them for the whole year. It is not for the faint of heart.
We walked up to the garden, which was lush with herbs, flowers, vegetable beds and a bench to nap on!
On return from a hike up the hill, Paul found me sitting with the group that were sipping refreshments and chatting up a storm. There were pizzas baking in the oven, and Mark was attending to guests from the cottages.
This place was created from a dream of what could happen in a small bay surrounded by majestic mountains and wildlife. Mark, Cynthia and Tulip, their beautiful dog, have chosen to share this experience with visitors travelling by boat or by air. OMOO and crew stop here frequently and kudos to Mark for continuing to make this stop available.
Video of a beautiful evening and the departure of guests via Coral Air.
A picture perfect evening before our departure the next morning to catch the slack tide through Green Point Rapids and onto the next stop.
On to Green Point Rapids and Johnstone Strait. Again, wind on the nose made for a slog so Port Neville it was for the night. A few hours later we made another right turn into the sheltered 13 kilometer long inlet.
We spent a lovely evening nestled in a protected cove in Port Neville. The NW wind was howling on Johnstone Strait and we could hear it high over the mast but no wave action could reach our anchorage.
The cove was also home to a bright read cottage, a McGregor sailboat and a skiff tied to a dock, all grounded at low tide when we arrived. I could see through the binoculars that there were green houses and sheds surrounded by gardens.
There was a camper parked not far from the dock which looked like it sat on large logs. Unbeknownst to us, since we had not anchored in this particular spot before, there lives a homestead under the umbrella of “Agrarians Foundation” in partnership with “Organic Alberta.”
I was fascinated to find this website describing this organization and delighted to read about this piece of paradise and what is happening close to where we were anchored.
According to their website: The long term vision for the land: To develop a self-sustaining homestead which could support two families. This could include agroforestry, sustainable wood-lotting, wild harvest of non-timber forestry resources, development of a food forest, orcharding, vegetable gardening, and small scale livestock husbandry.
What a fascinating discovery of more people living their dreams in Port Neville!! We are often drawn to Port Neville for the break from Johnstone Strait and have mostly observed heavily forested hillsides, sparsely inhabited sites, and a commercial oyster bed.
Who knew we would discover the homestead. What a pleasant surprise!! This is exactly what the Skipper and Sideways Sally love the most. Explore, explore, explore. The gypsy in us never tires of these wonderful experiences, and we get so much joy taking people along.
Paul offered to cook on this Canada Day, so the Skipper and I relaxed in the cockpit, chatting and discussing the plans for the next day. OMOO rarely sets a firm destination so she can use the wind on any given day.
However, on this trip, we had to reach a spot where air travel allowed me to get back to Vancouver for work. We’ve learned this is possible from most marinas anywhere on the West Coast.
The small floatplanes that service the northern areas are vital to the remote communities that rely on them for passenger service, mail runs, groceries, and anything needed.
Sideways Sally looked for air travel to the Broughtons and discovered a way to get back to the airport at Port Hardy. She was in for another big treat and she didn’t even know it!!
Chicken kiev and shenanigans were served up by these guys. Hershey never fails to entertain. He’s just so damn happy to be out there doing what he loves.
After leaving Port Neville we had to brave Johnstone Strait long enough to get into the next passage to the “back road” leading to Lagoon Cove.
The adventures of OMOO continue! Hershey and crew, Paul from Britain are wandering in the Broughton Archipelago. They are having a time in true East Coast and OMOO fashion, making friends along the way!!
Paul came to Canada in May to crew on Hermitage and OMOO. He’s been a welcome asset with loads of energy and sailing knowledge. He’s been crewing full-time on boats all over the world since 2017. His home is the ocean and he considers himself “a citizen of the earth.” He’s conscientious about nature and respectful to those onboard at all times. What a bonus to find him!
He found a brother on the docks in Campbell River. They had a great chat about life and compared notes on how they lost their leg(s). Bullshit was called on the stories about the shark bite and the crocodile fight pretty early in the convo.
The return of the humpback whales is dramatic, and hardly a day goes that they don’t see one.
Sideways Sally has been thinking about this inlet for 10 years!! It was a dream come true to be heading there on the return from Ketchikan. Close to Prince Rupert, it is an amazing experience for boats travelling north to Alaska, or south to Canada, or NE to Hyder, Alaska or Stewart, B.C.
The Khutzeymateen Inlet reaches into Canadian waters, and is a designated Provincial Park. The park represents the first undisturbed estuary of its size to be protected along the north coast of BC. The topography of this land and marine sanctuary is diverse, with rugged peaks towering to 2100 metres above a valley of wetlands, old growth temperate rainforests and a large river estuary. An abundance of wildlife shares the area.
Portland Inlet empties out into Dixon Entrance East and creates an unpleasant washing machine where they meet. Based on tides, currents, and weather, you really want to pick your time crossing Portland. We found a route that took us inside Dixon Entrance and across Portland with smooth seas and very little drama. Tongass Passage led us directly to Portland, past small islands with white sand beaches, and protected passages between reefs that kept the swells from the Pacific Ocean to a minimum.
We breezed across Portland under the jib with a gentle 8-10 knot wind and eased into the entrance. The current took us along past winding waterways and waterfalls. It was serenely quiet and peaceful. We’d been reading the guide books which informed us to check in with the Ranger Station before entering the head of the inlet and anchoring near the Grizzly Sanctuary.
We glided up to the dock attached to the Ranger Station and two gentlemen came out to catch our lines. They invited us in for an introduction to the sanctuary, along with the history of their people and their village. After an informative and friendly chat we toured the anchorage, finding the sweet spot far enough away from the sudden rise of the mudflats and close to the grazing areas of the grizzlies.
Settling in for the night in anticipation of the morning sights left me tingling with curiosity. I was wide awake at 0500 for breakfast at low tide. The grizzlies did not disappoint!!
They were munching on grass, pooping on the shore, and having some on the side! We watched for hours, the majestic wonder of these fierce creatures in the life cycle of adult, two year old juveniles. and one year old cubs. They seemed oblivious to the onlookers in boats, except for the cubs who scampered away when we passed them by on our way when we were leaving the inlet.
Looking at the grandeur of this place in my video does not even begin to describe the delightful awe I took in with each deep sigh…
Getting out of the harbor in Ketchikan went much smoother than getting in. With the tide at slack the current was not creating havoc and the wind was a no show. Of course leaving early to avoid these factors is crucial.
We set the course for Ketchikan-Rivallagigedo Channel-Behm Channel-Rudyerd Inlet. The day was sunny and warm and we were excited with anticipation to explore a new place.
The trip so far had been a monumental milestone for the Skipper who dreamt of sailing to Alaska. Don has spent three years preparing Hermitage, and getting familiar with navigating and sailing.
Sideways Sally felt privileged to join him on his maiden voyage, and lucky to make a new sailing buddy. Crewing onboard requires work, everyone pitches in. I felt confident with the guidebooks I contributed for heading north to Alaska and the years of practice I’ve had navigating on OMOO.
I had met sailors and boaters who go to Alaska repeatedly and always wondered, “why, what is the draw?” Thinking to myself that it would be an extension to Northern British Columbia with our beautiful inlets and fjords.
The first taste of what Alaska offers proved that there are spectacular experiences to be had. I now know why people are compelled to make the long trek to this amazing place.
Take a look at this special place, Behn Channel to Punchbowl Cove.
Click the link below for a look at Revallagigedo Island, where Ketchikan is located and Behm Channel to Rudyerd Inlet.