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.
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.