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Voyages: Canada

  Michael and Linda Weaver (Carina, #304) venture northward to Canada in their beautifully restored Catalina 34.

 

During September of 1998 My wife and I took our first trip aboard "Carina" a Catalina 34 foot sailboat having hull number 304. We had a wonderful adventure. However, after the initial purchase of the sailboat, a wonderful trip seemed to be only a distant dream. We were new to sailing and new to boat maintenance.

We purchased the Catalina 34 in January of 1998 and began the restoration of a sailboat that had been neglected for many years. The hull and engine were in good shape but all of the remaining systems needed replacement or repair. In the beginning, everything we touched seemed to fail. The sailboat smelled musty and when it rained, it leaked like a sieve. We changed and resealed all of the windows and deck fittings, replaced the water system, holding tank, head, hoses, hot water heater, accumulator.... etc. You name the component and we changed or repaired it. All of the interior wood needed teak oil. After 8 months of work it was time to see if we could enjoy the new hobby, "sailing".

Finally, the start of our vacation arrived. On that bright Saturday morning we loaded everything into the boat, said our good-byes and started the engine. We slipped the lines and started to back out of the slip... and the engine died! My jaw dropped to the deck. This can't be... not another problem. Visions of a lost vacation flew through my mind. Somehow, we pushed the boat back into the slip and secured the lines. The skipper of the sailboat two slips from us came over and asked if the milfoil was giving us problems. He told me that he had to dive under his boat and clear the weeds before his folding prop would work. Obviously, I would have to do the same. I put on my swimming trunks and then screwed up my courage. I needed plenty of mental preparation because I'm skinny and the water is very cold (I get cold fast) and I did not have a diving mask. Finally I jumped into the water blindly swam under the boat and pulled wads of weed material from the prop, shaft and cutlass bearing area. After the prop was clear of weeds I sat on the dock warming up for awhile and tried to figure how we were going to get out of the marina. We decided to launch the dink, secure a line to Carina and pull her out to clear water. Pulling a 12,000 pound sailboat with a little rowing dink took time, but worked. Once clear of the marina, my wife started the engine and tested to see if forward thrust would work. The test was successful, so we pulled the dink back on deck and headed for the ship canal that leads to Puget Sound.

To leave Lake Washington, Catalina 34 owners must raise 5 bridges and traverse the locks in route to the sea. Due to our late afternoon departure from the lake, the bridge/ lock passage took us until 7:00 PM. Beyond the ship canal, we found guest moorage at Shil Shole Marina and hit the sack. The next morning we found the marina and the entire Puget Sound in a blanket of fog. Without radar, we remained dock bound. Around mid afternoon, the fog lifted and because it was too late in the day to go very far, we decided to practice sailing with our new main sail and go back to Shil Shole Marina for the night.

Monday began with clear blue skies but no wind. We slipped the lines around 8:00 AM and using the iron sail, we headed north. We slowly put places like Edmonds, Possession Point, Everett, and Langley on our stern. Along the way, we passed a father and son who were fishing from their aluminum boat. I held my arms up in an attempt to question the size of any fish they had caught and much to my surprise they held up a nice salmon. We continued northbound along the east shore of Whidbey Island until reaching the entrance to the La Conner channel. Although the channel was narrow and shallow in places, the motoring was easy and we fetched Anacortes around 5:00 PM. Cap Sante Marina provided guest moorage and after securing Carina, we walked into town for dinner. Later that evening, we were sitting in the cockpit watching the stars when we noticed several seals in the water. For the next hour we were entertained by seals playing on a nearby dock. After watching seals and a sky full of stars, we rolled into the sack.

Tuesday; up with the sun, showers, breakfast, diesel for the engine and off we went. While departing the marina I calculated the fuel burn for the preceding day. The calculations came to .358 gal/hour at 2200 to 2400 rpm. That did not seem like much of a fuel burn so I checked the numbers again, but could not find an error. We rounded Anacortes point and headed for Rosario Strait. Hmm... fog again! We idled the engine to match the speed of the receding fog and slowly made our way across the strait. Navigating Thatcher Pass and then a pleasant run along the east side of Lopez Island was culminated by our first hook up to a buoy at our parents home on Lopez Island. The evening was punctuated by the occasional rolling wakes from the island ferries.

Wednesday, up with the sun but, wait.. we have wind! We quickly finished the morning chores and then set sail. The entire day was spent sailing the East Sound of Orcas Island and exploring Blind Bay on Shaw Island. At the end of the day, we attached to the same buoy as the night before.

Thursday, what a beautiful morning.... but no wind. We slipped the buoy line and headed around the north end of Lopez Island toward Friday Harbor. We encountered lots of boat traffic even for a middle of the week cruise. While rounding the south end of Shaw Island, we scared ourselves by getting too close to some underwater rocks. We saw the hazard in time and turned toward mid channel. It was one of those "mentally scared forever but physically unhurt" situations. We enjoyed the remainder of the northerly trip through the San Juan Channel and decided to have lunch at Jones Island. Our third buoy latch up went fine followed by lunch in the warm sun. I rowed to shore and found several tame deer wandering around the camp sites. The deer were small, the size of a tall dog, and one came within 5 feet of me. We left beautiful Jones Island bay and headed northwestward toward Stuart Island. The sea was calm, sun hot and sky, very blue. We watched seagulls and the occasional seal ply the calm waters. The calm sea reminded me of a verse in the "Rime of the Ancyent Marinere"


Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, ne breath ne motion,
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean
- Samuel Coleridge -

We read the cruising guide for directions into Prevost Harbor and maneuvered through the bay entrance while showing 40 feet on the depth meter. Depths reduced to 20 feet and then stayed constant until we latched onto a buoy. We shared this inviting harbor with approximately 10 other boats. Ten minutes after our arrival, a 42 foot Hallberg-Rassy took the buoy next to us. An entire family populated the boat from a 4 year old to grandfather. We were amused by the parents methods of keeping the kids busy. They dressed the two young girls in life vests, put them in a rubber dink tethered to the sailboat, provided oars, and watched as the girls had great fun and wore themselves out rowing in circles. When squabbles would startup, the tether would be hauled in and the problem solved. Later that evening when the kids were put to bed, not a peep was heard. They must have been totally exhausted. Meanwhile, we relaxed and enjoyed the view of the setting sun as it cast orange rippled reflections along the hulls of the neighboring boats. Just before the sunset, someone on another boat began playing the bag pipes. For about 30 minutes the piper serenaded the harbor. The evening meal followed by star gazing finished off the day.


Carina at anchor in Prevost Harbor

Friday, off to Canada! We departed the beautiful Stuart Island surroundings and headed across Haro Strait for Bedwell, B.C. The customs dock at Bedwell was easy to find and it did not take long for the customs officer to relieve us of several apples. My wife walked to the local store, replaced our apples and got some ice for the fridge. Off again, we headed northwestward along North Pender Island past Thieves Bay, Shingle Bay, Otter Bay, Navy Channel, Active Pass and entered Payne Bay which is the passage to Montague Harbor. Payne Bay is wide and easy to follow. We turned into Montague Harbor around 1:00 PM, spotted an open buoy, and attached to it. Soon, all of the remaining buoys were taken and boats started to come in and anchor all over the bay. We went to shore, paid our Can$6 buoy fee and walked to the marina. Hmmm.... ice cream cones, what a treat on a warm day! We later learned that the Montague ice cream cones are very popular in southern B.C. During the afternoon, I cleaned the oxidation from the deck while my wife worked on her knitting. After dark we were treated to an astonishing site. By combining all of the anchor lights plus the shore lights, the entire harbor appeared to be dressed for Christmas....beautiful!

Saturday, why leave paradise?...another day at Montague.

Sunday, wanting to continue our adventure, we performed the normal morning chores, slipped the buoy line, and departed Montague Harbor. We crossed Trincomal Channel entered Captain Passage where we found strong winds and currents. We took lots of spray over the bow until we turned dead down wind toward Ganges. With a following wind and sea we quickly traversed the channel. Our arrival at Ganges was highlighted by a careful docking procedure in strong winds. After paying the Can$5 docking fee, we went ashore to have breakfast. Ganges is a delightful town with lots of gift shops and a good grocery store all within walking distance from the marina. Unfortunately, one of the shops inadvertently tried to enter a charge on our Visa card 4 times which alerted the Visa fraud department and thereby made our Visa card nonfunctional for the remainder of the trip. Luckily, we had some cash so we did not end up washing dishes for our meals. Back at the boat, we decided to head for Otter Bay. Because of the narrow channel leading to and from Ganges, our departure meant several hours of slogging directly into a strong wind. We managed to avoid the many crab pots and arrived at Otter Bay only to find a completely full marina and a bay that we were told would not hold an anchor well. We pressed on around the northwest corner of North Pender Island through Navy Channel and entered Port Browning. Just prior to sunset, we called on radio channel 68 as we entered the marina and a cheerful voice rapidly instructed us to moor starboard tie, bow in, dock "B". We floundered a bit, then got our act together, and made a decent tie up. With Carina secure to the dock, we ambled up to the marina restaurant/bar and had dinner. After being out on buoys for several days, we found the marina a bit noisy (like an apartment complex with thin walls) until the die-hards hit the sack.

Monday, up with the sun and greeted by a bay as smooth as glass. If I had retained the arm strength of my youth, I could have set a new record for flat rock skipping. It would have taken binoculars to count the last skip. We quietly slipped the mooring lines and headed out of Port Browning for Winter Cove. Again we consulted the guide books for guidance through the narrow channel into the cove. Although sounding scary on paper, we didn't have any trouble finding the channel entrance and subsequent route into the rather shallow cove. It was still early morning and we lucked out by finding an unoccupied buoy. Into the dink and off we rowed to explore the marine park surrounding the cove. We landed, pulled the dink above the high water mark and walked northwestward toward the small break in the bay that opens up to the Straits of Georgia. Unbelievable! We sat on the rocks overlooking a 30 foot wide river of sea water flowing toward the strait. Several motor boaters challenged the swift running water battling there way to and from the cove. One of the boaters stopped after making the passage and we heard him say that he hit a rock. During our walk back to the dink, we noticed that due to the lack of rainfall, the island was powder dry. Back onboard Carina, we decided to head for Bedwell for the night. After struggling with strong currents and a difficult docking (because of high winds) we secured Carina in the Bedwell Marina and walked up the dock for some dinner. The evening brought a few sprinkles of rain but the wind calmed down after dark and we slept soundly.

Tuesday, our goal was to investigate Sidney Spit so we headed out into Haro Strait to follow the current south bound. About an hour into the passage, my wife spotted several dorsal fins ahead of the boat. Suddenly, they were everywhere! Killer Whales! We stood frozen with astonishment. They zoomed under the boat, across the bow, along side... they were fast and it was impossible to tell how many there were. What a site! The flurry lasted a few minutes and then we were returned to our quiet drift down the strait. We continued our motoring through the windless sea following the channels until we rounded the sandy Sidney Spit. The sea bottom of the west side of Sidney Spit is sand mixed with plenty of eel grass and the area is shallow. While passing the outer shoal, we saw 8 feet on the depth meter. We latched onto a buoy and had lunch. The lack of depth and the retreating tide made us nervous, so we decided to head for Port Sidney Marina. After again negotiating the shallow shoal area, we pointed the bow west and marveled at the site of a large schooner drifting in mid channel. As we passed the vessel, I saw someone on deck wave at us several times so we turned toward the vessel to investigate. The skipper (new owner) said he had had an engine fire and for safety reasons asked us to take his passengers to Sidney. We quickly got our lines and fenders ready, performed a mid channel rendezvous and received three passengers. With passengers aboard, we pressed on toward Sidney while one of the passengers made a cell phone call to a mechanic to get help for the stricken vessel. After arrival at Sidney, we checked on the schooner and learned that she extinguished her fire and sailed near Sidney and anchored. Port Sidney Marina is a beautiful, but expensive haven. The over night stay cost Can$47 but was well worth the experience. All of the docks are decorated with flowers and the town (within walking distance) is clean and the people are friendly. The most important attribute of the town, of course, is that the bakery shops are excellent. The day ended with dinner, chores and, as we hit the sack, the feeling that we had packed the day with lots of adventure.

Wednesday, with regrets, we left the Port Sidney Marina shining in the morning sun. Eastbound, we rounded Sidney Spit and headed out into Haro Strait. We desperately wanted to see more whales but only a few dolphins appeared. Back in U.S. waters, we cleared customs at Roche Harbor and then went north to Reid Harbor at Stuart Island to have lunch. Our goal for the day was Sucia Island so we slipped the Reid Harbor buoy and set a northeasterly course for Fossil Bay on Sucia Island. Upon our arrival at Sucia, we found all of the buoys taken in Fossil Bay so we continued around the east side of the island and entered Echo Bay. Fortunately, we latched onto one of the last two buoys and went ashore to explore the island. We found Sucia, along with all the other islands, to be dry as a popcorn ball. The preceding July and August were without rain. We spent a rather rolly-polly night because Echo Bay is not well protected from the easterly wakes.

Thursday, with the sun warming up the boat, we headed southeasterly around Orcas Island toward Peavine Pass. We stopped briefly at Blakely Island for groceries and fuel. Traveling on around Blakely Island and through Thatcher Pass we stopped at James Island. James Island is shaped somewhat like an hour glass with a small bay on both the east and west sides. The west bay has a dock where we tied up next to a chartered Catalina 36 with another Catalina 36 on a buoy a short distance to the south.

West bay of James Island

One of the Catalina owners talked to us about their trip to Glacier Bay in Alaska and told us "you can make the trip". We headed back to Lopez Island to visit with parents for the remainder of the day.

Friday, dang, all good things must sooner or later come to an end. The morning found us heading south toward Rosario Strait but we came to a drifting stop due to fog. We found a buoy on the east side of James Island and waited until after lunch for the fog to lift. The trip from Anacortes through the La Conner Channel and on to Coupeville was uneventful except for an increasing wind right on our nose. We wanted to stop at Coupeville for the night but couldn't find a safe anchorage. We decided to continue on to Seattle and on the way experienced one heck of a sail until finally the gust spread became too great for us to control. We took the sails down, started the iron sail, and stayed in the middle of the channel. We fetched Shil Shole Marina at 2:00 AM.

Saturday morning found us negotiating the five bridges and locks back to our Leschi Marina.

For a first time cruise, we were delighted with our sailboat. The eight months of repair work enabled us to cruise without any equipment failures. We have a lot more to fix on the boat but through the future repair work, we will be able to dream of adventures to come.

Michael and Linda
Carina #304


Happy Sailing to All!



West bay of James Island


Hit Counter since March 9, 1999. Last modified by Michael Weaver, Monday, August 09, 2004 . Copyright 1997-2000 by Dave Smith and the individual contributors to the C34 website. All rights reserved.. 

Last modified by Phil Imhof, Monday, August 09, 2004 . Copyright 2001 by Catalina 34 International Association.  All rights reserved.