The home stretch
JULY 27, 2015 | Our spur of the moment decision to head for Hornsby worked out well, although it was quite windy when we arrived. As we rounded St. James Point we were greeted by two orcas splashing in the reefs. We spent two nights here so we could have time to do the splendid hike out to Helliwell along the bluff. When we returned to our kayak, it was low tide. It’s so shallow here that we had to carry the kayak a really long way back to the water’s edge. The beautiful turquoise water had many black spots, which turned out to be a field of live sand dollars that we had to wade through barefoot! Later, we kayaked in the hot sun out to a cove we had admired from high up on the bluff, and found sea urchin colonies on the reef.
The wind had abated enough in in the morning to take the outside route down the Strait and enter the Gulf Islands through Gabriola Pass, but we were still against the current. We bypassed the popular Pirate’s Cove and choose spacious Clam Bay for the night. It’s fun to dinghy through the shallow cut to Telegraph Harbor on the other side, especially for an ice cream reward. At the dock we spotted another Eagle 40, named Perigee, and an Eagle 32, Kindred Spirit. Their owners were easily found on the store’s porch eating ice cream too, and we made some friends.
In the morning the wind was back, with attitude. After breakfast, an enormous Canadian Coast Guard hovercraft came cruising right through the whole anchorage, looking for something and kicking up a ton of spray. We thought that inside the Gulf Islands was protected from big waves, but no. We were headed for Winter Harbor, but into the waves in Trincomali Channel, which were building to 3 or 4 feet near the reefs of Wallace Island. New plan: turn around and head north to Maple Bay. Downwind was better, and generally not as bad the rest of the way, but finding space to anchor in Bird’s Eye Cove was tricky. Flukey winds made it hard to predict which way we’d be blown, and there was barely room to squeeze in amongst the local mooring buoys. We re-anchored 4 times until we felt comfortable. Another boat did the same thing after us.
We had one more night to spend in Canada, and were thinking maybe Sydney Spit, but as we passed Royal Cove on Portland Island we could see there was indeed space to stern-tie, so we grabbed it. Actually, some nice people in an inflatable near us offered to run our stern-tie for us. What more could you ask for? After we did the 6-mile hike around the island, we came back to find the cove full with more boats. Chatted with most everyone to hear their stories.
Back in cell phone range, contact was finally made with our friends from Seattle on Kia Ora, and we agreed to meet up in Garrison Bay. After crossing back into the US, phoning through customs, we found Haro Strait to be kicking up quite a bit of wind against current, and happily could duck out of it by going through Mosquito Pass, past Roche Harbor. Bev and Kris arrived in Garrison Bay a couple of hours after us, and Kia Ora spent the night rafted to Mischief. We stayed an extra night so we could do one more hike, to the top of Young Hill for the view, and then on to Briggs Lake for dragonfly-watching.
In the early hours, we heard the sound of raindrops. Since our plan was to get a 6 am start to cross Juan de Fuca, we slept in a bit more till the rain slowed down, and the waves flattened out. We had a date that Friday to meet up with two boats in Mystery Bay, so off we went. Crossing was grey and moderately windy. After winding through the tricky entrance past Fort Flagler, we found both Pilot Project and Phyllis M on mooring buoys near the dock in Mystery Bay. There was an empty buoy between them, so what the heck, we relinquished our goal of anchoring out every night at grabbed it, on the second try due to the wind. We all dinghyed to the dock and walked to Nordland for Whidbey Island ice cream bars. Michael and I were armed with ziplock bags and took our time on the way back picking blackberries. After dinner we all sat around the table on Mischief pouring over charts, to help Craig and Ellen on Pilot Project and Jim (soloing without Kim on this trip!) on Phyllis M plan their next trips. We hope they make it to some of the great places we’ve found.
Another rainy morning for our last leg back to Shilshole. Oh well, we’re grateful for the rain this year, and it makes it not so hard to come home. A perfect landing at the dock, after doing almost no docking on this trip! We so enjoy being independent and self-sufficient, in our own floating world.