Boat People!

“We’re Sailing!!!” It’s true! After all the turmoil and searching and working and worrying and waiting the boat is finally ours and we are sailing!!!

BOREAS sailing from Vancouver to Silva Bay

Bryce, the previous owner, and his girlfriend Wendy delivered the boat (with us on board as crew) to Point Roberts, Washington where we officially took possession (that way we paid less in taxes). It was about a 5 hour motor to Point Roberts where we spent 2 nights waiting out a storm before motoring 5 hours back to Vancouver. Other than a few hiccups with the engine on the way down which Rob fixed, all went well. Back in Vancouver we had a celebratory drink at the VRC with Evan who was responsible for bringing us all together and keeping the long process moving forward. What a nice evening!

Bryce, Rob, Evan, Wendy and Lucy at the VRC

After that we spent some time finishing up boat projects (pronounced PRO-jeks here in Canada) including renaming the boat to BOREAS in honor of the Greek god of the North wind and of a mountain pass near Breckenridge. Renaming is a big deal and we had a nice ceremony with new boating friends including Evan as the master of ceremony to mark the occasion and appease the gods.

Renaming Ceremony with Evan as the Host

Next we started moving onboard! Rob’s tools took precedence as they will quite literally keep us floating. Next were things from the camper that we didn’t use every day like my art supplies and some dry foods. Then I did some serious menu planning and provisioning shopping to load up the boat with food and bathroom / first aid supplies. Lastly we moved all our bedding, clothes, and dog stuff on board.

But we still had the truck and camper! It’s a good thing too because we needed someplace to store stuff not needed on the boat—like a spare boom for the mizzen and our bicycles among other things.

Camper as a storage unit

We decided to store the truck and camper near Port Townsend, Washington for the rest of the summer. When we stayed in Port Townsend on the way up while looking at boats and we really liked it. It also has a nice marina which takes reservations for the winter so we are booked to be there Oct-May. Yay! Winter plans are shaping up…

With all of that in place, we rented a car in Vancouver which I drove as Rob and Navi took their last ride in the truck pulling the camper south. Crossing the border was a breeze and then it was a race to get to the ferry crossing. I made it first so caught an earlier ferry. Rob was the 2nd car on the next ferry. Once we were both in Port Townsend we went to the storage yard and did a final check pulling anything useful from the truck and camper and then headed back north.

Truck and camper in their new home

Once we dropped off the rental car that was it—we are officially boat people! The boat, its dinghy and our feet are our only modes of transportation. We wrapped up some loose ends, said our goodbyes and cast off on a sunny Wednesday morning. Our good friend and dock-mate, Donna, and her dog Charlie were there to send us off with cheers and waves. When we passed under the Lion’s Gate Bridge and then passed by Navi’s favorite dog beach at Ambleside there was a tear in my eye. We had spent over 2 months in Vancouver and it had started to feel familiar, comfortable, and like home.

Sailing under the Lions Gate Bridge in Vancouver

But the Gulf Islands were calling and we headed west. The winds were in our favor so we raised the sails and had a lovely 3 hour sail across the Georgia Straight. All three of us got a little nauseous but no one got seasick. ;-)

Our first destination was Silva Bay on Gabriola Island where the Vancouver Rowing Club (we are members) owns dock space and we can stay for free for 3 nights. The facilities are a little run down but the people are very friendly and the other VRC members staying there were like family in the best possible way. For me, the best part of staying at Silva Bay was how quiet it was. No traffic noise at all! For the first time in months we slept without ear plugs!

At Silva Bay

There was a nice park within walking distance and along the way were artists shops, herbs for sale, and farmland. Close to the marina there were small, uninhabited islands so we took Navi on a dinghy to one and let him run free—I haven’t seen him that happy in a long time. Back at the marina people were chatting and visiting each other’s boats which made Navi a little crazy. He is very protective of our boat which makes him a great guard dog but not a happy, friendly dog. Needless to say, no one came on our boat! Anyway, after 2 nights we decided to move on.

We have several resources we are using to determine where we visit, one of which is a guide book from the 1970s and surprisingly it has the best recommendations! Also we are finding that not much has changed in the islands since the ’70’s! Anyway, we decided to visit Ruxton Island next and anchor in the small bay. It was a lovely spot and the island had small, private cabins but a public road/trail crisscrossing it which we really enjoyed hiking. Again there were nearby deserted islands with nice beaches so we took Navi to shore and let him run.

Ruxton Island with BOREAS at anchor in the background

How does Navi get on/off the boat when we are at anchor? Great question! Rob built a short ramp that we hang off the side of the boat. Once we put it in place we put a PFD on Navi and bring the dinghy around the boat positioning it so it’s right below the ramp. One of us is onboard steading Navi and the other is in the dinghy encouraging him to jump in. The first few times he hesitated but once he realized getting in the dinghy meant getting to run free on shore he jumps in without encouragement. Getting him back on the boat can be trickier—usually because he doesn’t want to leave land! But once in the dinghy and positioned at the boat he readily jumps up. I'm working on getting photos or video of this to share!

The dinghy is pretty important to our maneuvers and after dropping Navi off the motor quit working. Thankfully we have oars in the boat so we rowed it back to the boat and secured it. After some clever maneuvering we managed to get the engine off the dinghy and stashed on deck. Rob did some troubleshooting and realized we needed an engine mechanic.

Since it was a Sunday and we were close to another beautiful spot we decided to relocate for one more quite night at anchor before heading to civilization and a mechanic. The wind’s weren’t with us so we motored south to a nook in between north and south Secretary Islands. We rowed the dinghy ashore and had a nice hike on the south island that night. The next morning we explored the north island but it was inhabited so we didn’t stay long.

Secretary Islands anchorage

In Canada the exposed shore between high and low tide are public lands so even if the island is private you can still walk on the shoreline. Unfortunately the shore is usually pretty rocky and the rocks are usually covered in barnacles making it hard for Navi to walk without cutting his paws. So in the future we will be looking for public islands.

From Secretary Islands the closest “big” town was Ladysmith so we motored there. The VRC has a reciprocal agreement with the yacht club and we can stay at their dock pretty cheaply. We had no trouble docking but the marina is right next to a large log mill that works 24 hours a day so that constant noise is a big change from the quite at anchor! We both pulled out the ear plugs again.

Ladysmith is a small town with a lot of history. It unfortunately does not have a lot of mechanics or marine stores. After many phone calls and one hot walk to a nearby mechanic we finally realized no one had the time or the parts to help us. As a result we are buying a new Yamaha motor. Because we plan on spending as much time as possible at anchor and the dinghy will be our primary way ashore we decided a new and reliable motor was warranted. My hope is that it is also super easy to start as in the past I’ve always struggled to start pull-start motors!

So we had one week of fun in the islands—enough to make us want more! As soon as the new motor is on the dinghy we are headed back out! After all, it's hard to be boat people when you are tied to land! ;-)