A long voyage to Tod Inlet & Butchart Gardens: Definitely Worth it.
We left Nanaimo and went through Dodd Narrows on Monday afternoon. It was the busiest we’ve ever seen it because a small sail boat decided to go against the tide south bound and it almost got stuck in the 5 knot, northbound tidal rapid. This created quite a backup, but no real problems.
If you remember from the last posting, our Monday journey began at 6:00 AM on the north end of Lasqueti Island. After finishing our crossing of the Strait of Georgia, we made a quick stop at Nanaimo for supplies, and internet, while waiting for a strong northbound tide to wane. The Captain and the First Mate decided after reviewing the reference texts and the charts to try to make it all the way to Tod Inlet and the seaside entrance to beautiful Butchart Gardens. We knew it would be a long day, but we felt it would be worth it for a relaxing two-days at Tod Inlet.
Stuart Channel, the passageway between the southern Gulf Islands and our destination was very pretty, with several winding passages, more like a river than an inlet, with steep undeveloped ridges on both sides. This eventually opens up to a big open bay (Brentwood Bay) and tiny Butchart Inlet and nearby Tod Inlet.
Score! We were tired when we finally made it to Tod Inlet at 7:00 PM. But it was worth it. We only share this magical find with you, our dear readers of the True Love Adventures, but anchoring in Tod Inlet and then taking the dinghy to Butchart Gardens is such a wonderful experience!
Tod Inlet is magical. It’s very close to a pretty substantial city (Victoria – the capital city of British Columbia), but when you venture into the narrow inlet you feel like you’re in a nature preserve. The inlet does not fit many boats, but we found a perfect anchorage and the Captain went out by kayak (Saul’s invention) to complete the stern tie to shore. As the Captain entered his kayak he went for an unexpected swim. That definitely woke him up. But like the trooper he is, he completed the perfect stern tie by kayak even after he was soaked in the 65 degree water.
Settled, we enjoyed a light salmon salad dinner and watched a little Olympics coverage before we collapsed.
Tuesday morning we slept in and woke to warm sunshine. The First Mate did her yoga on the bow while the Captain read the Seattle Times and Wall Street Journal on his Kindle. We needed phone service for a phone conference the Captain needed to take, so we took the dinghy for lunch to the Brentwood Pub and Resort. Lunch was yummy and the sunshine on the deck was delicious. After the conference call and lunch we headed the dinghy to Butchart Bay and our trip to the gardens.
Now I thought I had visited the gardens 26 years ago, but I have no recollection of them. They are spectacular, so either
- I never visited them and just thought I had
- They’ve changed and improved dramatically
- I had a complete memory loss of the event.
It was a perfect day to visit the gardens, sunny and not too hot. We were most enchanted by the sunken gardens both in daylight and at night. Clearly this has got to be the best possible use of a former limestone quarry. Mrs. Butchart had real vision!
I took a ton of pictures with many lenses at the gardens. Here are just a few!
The reference text suggested boaters return at night to see the gardens in the evening with the lights. It also turns out there was a ballet in the amphitheater that night. So we headed back to the True Love for some kayaking and dinner before returning to the gardens for the evening. While we were kayaking we watched a king fisher doing some dramatic fishing channeling the Olympic platform divers. Again we ate a lite dinner and then headed back to Butchart Gardens for our nighttime adventure.
A night visit to Butchart Gardens is a must do! First, the ZarYevka Ballet was quirky and delightful and you sure couldn’t beat the setting. The full moon rose during the show and when it was over we explored the truly enchanting gardens again by the soft glow of a thousand lights. While watching the enchanting water element in the sunken gardens, with its changing color lights and mist, a child came by and exclaimed, “WOW”! with perfect alacrity. Everyone laughed in agreement. From the mouth of babes.
The full moon lit our way as we traveled the short distance back to the True Love for another great night’s sleep. Today we are heading to Victoria to spend two nights. It’s sunny and beautiful once again. That’s two days in a row! It really is amazing how close San Juan Island is to the south end of Vancouver Island and Victoria.
The winds were mostly calm during this part of the voyage but the forecast “late day” winds in The Strait of Juan De Fuca came early. To avoid the spray from the four foot waves, the Captain and the First Mate left the fly bridge to navigate the end of our voyage into Victoria from the security of the lower helm.
The waves were pretty big and the winds blew the surf over the bow, but the True Love handled it like the champion she is. The waters turn calm as soon as you turn into Victoria harbor and we had a wonderful spot at the main dock directly in front of the famous Empress Hotel and close to the Parliament Building.
The day ended back at the True Love with a great view of the Parliament Building a lit up and an intense game of scrabble.
We are posting the blog this morning from Willies Café, where we are enjoying a delicious breakfast of omelets, waffles, good coffee and high speed internet.