Inuksuk at AnchorStory and photos by Catherine Dook

Inuksuk at anchor Genoa Bay 2017

One summer I sold ice cream and knick-knacks at Montague Harbour Marina. I was standing behind the counter one day, when the phone rang. “There’s a boat at anchor in the middle of the bay that’s been playing loud music for three hours,” complained an irate-sounding male voice. “Can you make them stop?”

“Um, no,” I replied. “The marina has no jurisdiction over the anchorage. Besides, my only weapon is a till.” The man hung up on me.

Government Dock

 

 

 

Montague harbour 2017 government dinghy dock #2

Now when you think about it, you can understand why the poor fellow was annoyed. The anchorage at Montague Harbour is part of the Gulf Islands Provincial Park system, and SOMEONE should oversee things and enforce the rules, but truth is that any Canadian park, provincial or national, has too few employees to cover the vast areas that are protected. In addition, the Gulf Islands are a bewildering mixture of provincial and federal parks and private property, but the general code of conduct is the same in the Provincial system as it is in the Federal Gulf Islands Marine Park system. Because the solitude and lack of oversight is part of the charm of the whole experience, the Canadian Government, whether provincial or federal, expects residents, visitors, transients, and looky-loos to just flat-out be polite. Yes, polite.

Canadians pride ourselves on our manners and most of the time we don’t do too badly. I couldn’t speak to the nationality of either the music-lover at anchor or his long-suffering neighbour, but I will say this: hanging up on me was a breach of etiquette. I was quite indignant.

If a hang-up phone call can upset a Canadian, imagine the effects of liquor, excessive speed, and firearms. Liquor is tolerated in the privacy of your (parked) boat or campsite in moderation, speed is frowned upon, and firearms are forbidden. Canadian boaters settle disputes with logic and occasionally pike poles, but raise your voice or swing a pike pole threateningly and someone will tell the RCMP on you.

There are many beautiful anchorage sites in the Gulf Islands Marine Park System and all of them amplify noise across water. That high-pitched screaming we heard one summer from the beach at Montague Harbour (provincial) was only some would-be swimmers testing the temperature of the ocean water in the heat of July. They weren’t being rude, they were staving off a heart attack. I know because I frightened some boaters in one of the anchorages at Portland Island (Federal) one summer using a bathing suit and the same method. So – no excess noise unless your body is unexpectedly forced into an extremity of shrieking hypothermia.

All the Gulf Island anchorages are no-dump zones. No-dump means use your holding tank, your composting toilet, or as we did one memorable summer, your bucket. Now a bucket might seem like a disagreeable option, but most marine parks boast pit toilets of surpassing beauty and hygiene, and besides, the best of my social encounters that summer were on bucket runs.

Slap a flat piece of plastic fastened with a string on top of your bucket, and you are welcome anywhere.

“So, what do you have in the bucket? Crabs?” asked one friendly man. “Well, no,” I replied, and so began a most agreeable conversation on the nature of aerobic decomposition.

Another time I met a woman who had also read Benvenuto Cellini; we walked for a while together, and as the bucket clanked and sloshed between us, I invited her and her children to tour our boat. Such a lovely woman and what adorable children.

Trash is something else one doesn’t throw overboard. Pack it out. Here and there the government has gone to the trouble of installing bear-proof garbage disposal units with a polite sign asking for $2.00 for every bag you deposit. On a Gulf Island, $2.00 to dispose of garbage is a bargain and you should be grateful to pay it.

There are other rules too, such as not operating your vessel or anchor in water of a depth less than ten metres. This is for the protection of eelgrass. Eelgrass might not seem like such a big deal, but it protects many sensitive juvenile species and West-coast Canadians are very attached to it.

Princess BayPortland island 2017 princess bay & Inuksuk

Years ago, an American production company filmed part of the movie ‘The Fog’ at Cowichan Bay (NOT a Gulf Island anchorage, but it’s lousy with eelgrass). During one scene, a beautiful and half-naked actress was expected to fight some seaweed in a water tank, and a local reporter, not at all interested in her beauty or state of undress, wanted an assurance from the director that no eelgrass had been injured or killed during the filming of the scene. The director stopped just short of rolling his eyes, but you catch my drift on the Canadian earnestness about the environment. Some of this wears off farther east, but West-coasters are as rabid as Canadian environmentalists get, so tread lightly on the water.

This includes watching your fuel. Do not slop any diesel and do not discharge bilgewater in anchorages, but you knew that already.

The wildlife you may encounter is not unlike your Canadian neighbours at anchor – wary, introverted, and unwilling to be disturbed. The polite, indeed the Canadian, thing to do is to skirt around them and allow them to approach if they feel confident. This includes seals, sealions, whales, birds, and other forms of wildlife, like tourists. Once, while at anchor in Bedwell Harbour (CLOSE to a Gulf Island marine park), in the middle of the night, a very large whale scraped his back against the length of our 50,000 lbs. vessel, lifting the stern clean out of the water and considerably startling the entire crew. I am very proud that we did not traumatize that barnacle-scraping darling, even though we came closer to him than we’d ever imagined we would.

Saltspring IlsandSaltspring Island from Russel Island

Whales communicate using sound, so engine noise confuses them. Seals will approach if you are quiet and they are friendly. One summer, a seal hanging around Genoa Bay (also close to Gulf Island marine parks) popped his head up every time I rowed past him singing. He seemed to like ‘Molly Malone.’ However, nobody goes near sealions unless they are crazy, because sealions are large, unpredictable, aggressive, and smell terrible in hot weather. They smell terrible in cold weather too. In fact, they smell dreadful all year round. Stay upwind of them. I’m as fond of nature as the next person, but I’m not a big fan of sewage and rotting fish. Macbeth famously complained the ‘multitudinous seas incarnadine’ couldn’t wash his hands clean of blood; I am as bewildered that a whole ocean can’t wash the stink off a sealion, but such quandaries are part of the Gulf Island Marine Park experience and must not be underrated. That being said, you the visitor are held to a higher standard of cleanliness than the sealion who is belching fish and staring at you from the rocks off Portland Island (Federal).

This means that on land you are asked to leave no trace. Anyone planning to park on land is asked to camp in a designated site, or failing that, a non-vegetated site below the high tide line. Do not beach your dinghy on a midden or a site with eelgrass or kelp. If it’s a good landing site, it has probably been used for thousands of years and may be an archeologically sensitive area. It should therefore be treated with respect. This means you do not pocket interesting-looking artifacts, even shells from middens. You probably won’t be arrested for doing this, but you are asked politely not to. The same goes for rocks, seaweed, and small intertidal wiggling beasties. Fishing is allowed in season, provided you have a licence.

Before considering a campfire, you must determine if one is permitted. If the green light has been given, you must use a designated site or pack in your own portable system. The ocean salt soaked into driftwood will release toxins into the air if it is burned, so bring your own fuel.

Fixing The Dinghybeach princess bay portland island - fixing the dinghy after we fouled the boat prop

Disposing of human waste on land is a little more difficult than when on a vessel with its own system, but once again, I refer you to the beautiful pit toilets commissioned and maintained by the Canadian Government. Like most boaters (and people who used to live in Canada’s Arctic), I have an unhealthy, over-interest in sewage and know more about it than is acceptable at cocktail parties, but the short version is that the pit toilets at Canadian campgrounds are perfectly fine. You must use them. It is not acceptable to leave human waste, even urine, in an intertidal zone. If your park does not have a toilet handy when nature calls, it is suggested that you dig a small hole 15 centimetres into the humus layer and 30 metres away from any water source. Cover your deposit with soil and carry any paper back out with you.

Don’t leave garbage on land any more than you would throw it into the water. Do not burn or bury it, but take it back to your boat and save it for the next official garbage deposit site you find.

Do not be offended if, when you ask for a service from a private business, some mean person says ‘no.’ Gulf Islands don’t have much water for showers or space for garbage or facilities for sewage disposal. Because the Gulf Islands include private property, you must stay off private docks and mooring buoys that someone owns and be respectful of businesses. For example, the Montague Harbour Marina owners don’t like dinghy-tie-ups unless you’re a customer, the government dock next door has a two-hour time limit before you are asked to pay, and the wharf across the bay in the provincial park allows free dinghy tie-ups but charges $2.00 a metre for overnight moorage of larger vessels. Any diesel you might spill at the marina gas pumps pollutes the marine park. The friendly tour guide you’re talking to at Russel Island (Federal) is probably a great-great grandchild of Maria Mahoi, the daughter of the original Kanaka owner of the island. (Kanakas were Hawaiians indentured by the Hudson Bay Company in the mid-1800s). Some of the property adjacent to Winter Cove on Saturna Island (Federal) is private – don’t stray from the picnic areas because you might be trespassing.

For more detailed admonitions on the use of the Gulf Islands I refer you to two pertinent websites, www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/bc/gulf/index and www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/. Like the golden rule, it’s all really quite simple. You must be polite – as polite as a Canadian. You’ll be fine.

You can buy Catherine Dook’s books at http://catherinedook.com

Related Articles
Profiles
  • 19 December 2018
  • By Ethan

Open Bic dinghy…. a new generation

In the early summer I had the opportunity to have coffee with a dear friend from my university years. Though we hadn’t seen each other in many years, the passage of time became irrelevant once our...

Mediterranean Shakedown: A Summer Cruise in Spain

Mediterranean ShakedownBy Sheryl and Paul Shard

This summer my husband, Paul, and I bought our fourth offshore cruising boat, a new Southerly 480 built by Discovery Yachts in the UK. It’s a unique boat with a retractable variable-draft swing keel giving you the option of sailing with a deep draft of 3.1 metres when the keel is down or just less than a metre with the keel fully retracted. Southerly Yachts are great for bluewater sailing and also for gunkholing in shallow creeks and inland waterways. You can even dry them out at low tide so they are is the perfect boat for the type of exploring we like to do. Our new boat, Distant Shores III, is the third Southerly Yacht that we’ve owned over 29 years of international cruising to destinations in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Middle East, UK, Scandinavia and South America. This boat we plan to sail to the South Pacific.

Read more about the Shards' cruise in Spain...

 

Lifestyle

  • Prev
This issue, to kick off 2019, we have an unofficial Photo of the week and this, the unofficial ...
Readers give us a bit of feedback on the 60th anniversary of the Shark 24
We are home for Christmas this year. Soon we will be heading back to Adamant 1 for another winter ...
This past October we drove to Telegraph Cove with friends and spent a day of wonder cruising the ...
We have kept our subscription to Canadian Yacht Onboard as we have traveled the South Pacific over ...
Stuart Walker a legend in competitive sailing passed away on November 12, 2018 in Annapolis. Stuart ...
“In Grenada, we had about 80 cruiser kids visit our boat...by dinghy of course! Sometimes you ...
Austin Edwards told students and parents at the Saanich School’s “Parents as Informed Partners” ...
As the sole arbiter of the Photo of the Week I, your editor, get to make the choice. This week, ...
Michele Stevens pointed us to this interesting project which recently came to fruition in Cape ...

Boat Reviews

  • Prev
To get you in the mood for cruising the Boat Show then launching in spring, here’s a boat that ...
Quite simply, the styles of boats have changed. Where in past years a buyer might have been looking ...
At the boat shows, the Ranger Tugs’ classic tugboat lines always grab the crowds, with the wives ...
Sometimes a great idea requires an encore, and French yacht builder Jeanneau got that with the ...
Tactical Custom Boats announces the sale to a North American client of a custom Tactical 77’ – Fast ...
Bruce Elliott is an inventor. And when he sold the technology he developed to build utility poles ...
One often asks of a winning achievement or a fabulous design, could it have possibly been done ...
The latest new model from Cruisers Yachts is the Cantius 42 and this yacht made its debut in the ...
The Sabre 45 Salon Express is new for 2017, making its debut at the Fort Lauderdale International ...

Beneteau Antares 27

Beneteau Antares 27By Andy Adams and John Armstrong

You have to love it when something exceeds your expectations on so many levels; the new Antares 27 from Beneteau looks to me like that sort of all-around overachiever.

This is a brand new express cruiser design. With twin Mercury 200 V6 outboards, it delivers impressive performance, a reassuring and comfortable ride, and a level of versatility that will enable this boat to be your vacation partner for all sorts of adventures.

Read more about the Antares 27...

 

 

 

 

Hanse 388

Hanse 388By Katherine Stone

The Hanse group produced their second most popular boat of all time with the Hanse 385. The trick was to build on that winning formula when they upgraded to the Hanse 388, which they have done in spades. The German build quality is first rate and true to the Hanse tradition. Leaving the hull the same with a steep stern and straight stem for an optimal long water line, they went with a slightly stiffer, heavier displacement, new deck, interior layout and window line. Hanse’s highly experienced yacht construction team, judel/vrolijk & co., have combined ease of sailing, comfort and performance into the newly designed Hanse 388.

Read More about the Hanse 388...

 

 

 

DIY & How to

  • Prev
Winter is a great time to look at some of the hidden spaces on your boat – to take stock of what is ...
When a boat is in the water, the bilge will often collect water that enters the boat from weather, ...
Recently I suggested doing an off-season (winter) project with a potential client, and my ...
A recent conversation with a fellow contractor got me thinking: With all of the information out ...
As the cold approaches, shrink-wrapping is a hot topic, and I’ve heard more than a few debates at ...
Nothing stops a vacation faster than a problem with the fresh water system – be it leaks, smells, ...
Pyrotechnic distress flares have been around for decades, while electronic strobe distress flares ...
Most of us don’t give a second thought to our sacrificial anodes – those curious knobs of raw metal ...
In this time of boat show afterglow, many boaters are counting the days until launch. 

Ask Andrew: Electrical Installations – Part 1: Electrical Connections - basics and how-to’s

Electrical InstallationsBy Andrew McDonald

Winter is a great time to look at some of the hidden spaces on your boat – to take stock of what is aboard, areas of improvement and ways to upgrade.

One of the most common jobs that I’m asked to look at are electrical installations and upgrades. Surprisingly, the majority of these types of jobs are to ‘clean up’ the wiring of years past – when electrical standards were more fluid, and jury-rigged upgrades have been added and adapted over multiple owners and contractors.

Read More about Electrical Installations Basics...

 

  

Marine Products

  • Prev
While the basics of boat hull design hasn’t changed that much over the years, the same cannot be ...
Yamaha targets the Canadian big-water market with its high-torque 425 horsepower V8 XTO outboard, ...
Looking for a great Christmas gift for the Offshore sailor on your list? This being a Marblehead to ...
Sail shape is long gone. They have stained, feels thin and you see broken threads everywhere. Your ...
Stripping the antifouling paint from the bottom of a boat is physically demanding and is one of the ...
The 2019 Ultimate Sailing Calendar highlights the drama and excitement of blue-water sailing, as ...
Weather nerds and boaters of all stripes will be absorbed by Bruce Kemp’s account of the monstrous ...
Canada Rope promises that its new Night Saver Rope will illuminate at night and act as a reference ...
Take a look as a 68-foot yacht docks itself in between two Volvo Ocean 65 sailing yachts at the ...
Industry Firsts Include Direct Injection and Integrated Electric Steering System