A slow soft rain is falling outside. It’s late morning in Pender Harbor today, July, 5, 2014 and we are being lazy. Jim is using the cherry pitter to pit a big stash of this year’s yummy crop for the freezer and I’m writing the first blog of the trip. (Photos are below).
Our trip began Monday, June 30th when we left Seattle’s Elliott Bay Marina to pick up Liza and Bria Cohen in Bainbridge. They were coming along on the first part of our annual adventure to the inland waters of BC. Liza brought a bounty of beautiful harvest from her garden which we thoroughly enjoyed.
Sun blessed us on our first few days. Liza and I enjoyed lounging and chatting in the new area on the upper deck while Jim and Brian had some “bro” time manning the helm; watching out for floating logs & other debris. It was so fun seeing Bryan and Liza in awe of the incredible, crystal clear views from the water of both Mt. Rainier and Mt. Baker.
After anchoring near Fort Flaggler we enjoyed wine while watching deer running on the hills and a pair of eagles playing. We are pretty sure these are the same two Eagles we saw as juveniles 2 years ago with their Mom. After cocktails we headed in the tender over to Port Townsend. Liza was a bit skeptical because it looked so far. But the True Love tender is powerful and in the masterful hands of the Captain we made the crossing easily and made our way to the Siren Tavern for some yummy food on their waterfront deck.
Tuesday’s forecast was for a calm crossing across the Strait of Juan De Fuca. I made my healthy elixirs and toast and we raised the anchor and headed for the San Juan’s while still in our PJs.
Inspired by the calm waters, sunshine and the backdrop of the Olympics, Mt. Rainier and Mt. Baker, Liza and I did yoga on the bow. The Captain manned the helm and Brian expertly spotted the occasional logs on the water. As we approached San Juan Island the Captain spotted a gathering of boats so we headed that way expecting to see Orcas. On the way we were surprised by our first ever encounter with minke whales. After enjoying the minkes we continued on to enjoy a close encounter with a pod of 4 orcas about 2 miles away. Definitely a great start to our 2014 adventure!
Because of the weather forecast for Wednesday, and Liza’s desire to walk around Friday Harbor, we decided to head in and dock instead of anchoring. It was probably the warmest day of the summer so far (85) on the Island. We walked around and caught the end of the USA World Cup game. We searched for Liza’s favorite haunts, thrift stores, to watch the master at work. Although we arrived just after closing she finagled her way in and made a quick vase purchase from France that now beautifully sits on the True Love. On the way back we picked flowers for the vase, enjoyed ice cream and did some window shopping.
We split up and Jim and I headed back to the boat to buy some fresh salmon for dinner while the Cohen’s enjoyed some more exploring. Liza made some yummy side dishes from her garden bounty and I cooked the salmon on the the grill. It was a yummy feast! The day ended with a wonderful conversation about love, life and family.
Wednesday we slept in and I made a yummy scramble with Liza’s farm fresh eggs from their little roost of chickens and we headed into town to rent scooters to explore the Island a bit. Renting the scooters was a big production and we had to wear helmets worthy of an Evil Kenevil show. We made it through all the rigamarole and headed to Roche Harbor to experience the crazy 4th of July gathering there. We didn’t have time for lunch so we bought ice cream cones instead and walked around. We particularly enjoyed the sculpture garden. On our way way back we had to stop at the “Island Treasures” store so Liza could do a 4 minute search for another possible treasure. None sighted this time.
We made it back just in time to stop another boat from rafting up to us on the dock for the crazy 4th of July gathering. I was particularly annoyed that they were rafting up without asking us or putting any bumpers between the two boats. The entire “rafting up” thing is just not for us. It makes me feel very claustrophobic and a little violated to have people we don’t know partying right next to us & walking on our boat to get to the dock. I’m needing to breath while writing about it!
We shared some celebratory champagne as the Cohens headed off to their seaplane and we headed out for Montague Harbor where we planned to clear Canadian customs. On our way we were treated to another enchanting orca encounter near Active Pass. We had gotten a tip that it was easier to clear customs at Montague Harbour. So true! We just called in with our Nexus cards as we crossed into Canada and then anchored at Montague Harbour when we got there a few hours later. No docking required! If the customs people had been there they would come to us at anchor, but we were not selected for a random inspection. Our day ended with the sky exploding in color. Even the water reflected the beauty!
Thursday it was on to visit Nanaimo (a beautiful little harbor city) for some provisioning (having finished Liza’s yummy garden fare) and of course dinner at our favorite Greek restaurant. Astera Taverna is in the “old quarter” of the city & serves delicious Greek food. We toasted our adventure with orzo (Greek liquor) and feasted.
Friday when we awoke the winds were calm but the weather report was typically ambiguous. There was a weather system coming in with strong winds shifting from the NW to SE. The calm would be in between the shift. Crossing the strait of Georgia has always been challenging for us. For those of you who read our blog last year we had some rough seas that caused a leak in a portal, that then caused an electrical fire. In the off season our boat guru extraordinaire Ben Rhoades replaced all the portals and moved the tender to a better location for quick and easy use. In the process he found some serious defects in Navigator’s construction of our portals and the rear swim platform. Although the repairs weren’t cheap, the True Love is now more safe & seaworthy than ever.
I felt like we needed to leave right away, so we did. The crossing wasn’t smooth, but it wasn’t bad. 1-2 foot waves with a bit more wind than expected. But nothing the True Love can’t handle. The Captain used our “second gear” to cruise at 15 mph for the first 2/3 of the trip until it got calmer and then we slowed down to our usual speed of about 9 mph.
Pender Harbour is a peaceful refuge and a charming place to wait for Saul and Jess to arrive by seaplane on Sunday to join us for our cruise into Princess Louisa Inlet. After an easy anchor we launched the tender for a quick jaunt over to the Painted Boat Resort and a scrumptious lunch followed by luxurious visit to their spa for massages and soaking in their hot tub. This really is the best spa we’ve visited in Canada. The facility is beautiful and the therapists first rate.
The rains started as we took the tender back for a quiet night in our lovely floating adventure machine. We ate Greek leftovers and watched the July 4th fireworks on the TV. Seattle’s Lake Union show looked awesome this year!
The predicted light summer rain continued on Saturday. We are going to enjoy the Painted Spa for a pedicure and some soaking followed by a walk to the grocery store and an early dinner.
Tomorrow the adventure continues when we pick up Jess and Saul and head to Egmont for the night and wait for a strong tide tomorrow morning to push us up the long fjord that leads to the enchanted place we visit every year: Princess Louisa Inlet.