By Tim Ellis

A small-boat passage from Horseshoe Bay to Maurelle Island, north of Desolation Sound, is an adventure in brisk sailing and peaceful rowing.

As a rower and dinghy sailor, I was pleased to discover a slim volume entitled Oar & Sail - An Odyssey of the West Coast by Dr. Kenneth Macrae Leighton. Leighton rowed and sailed his 14’ boat, sporting an unstayed standing lugs’l rig and a pair of nine-foot wooden oars, from Vancouver to Prince Rupert over two summer holidays. The first stage took him to Sonora Island, just north of Maurelle Island where we camp. Later, he launched at Port Hardy and completed the journey.

His book inspired me to follow in his wake. There was not much planning required – Leighton had already done it – and my Drascombe Scaffie BoB was ready for the voyage. BoB is 14’ 9” long, engineless, with an unstayed lugs’l rig and a pair of 9’ 6” oars. She has wet her keels in the Okanagan Lakes, the Fraser River, the estuaries, bays and inlets around Vancouver, and as far north as Desolation Sound. She is simply ideal for cruising. Her standing lugs’l points surprisingly well and her time up the Strait of Georgia speaks for itself: 4.5 Knots sustained for more than four-and-a-half hours in 10-12 knots of breeze. We carry an eight-lb Danforth anchor, VHF, compass, safety equipment, cooking and sleeping gear, food that doesn’t require refrigeration, and a half-bottle of Balvenie single malt in a plastic bottle.

At 0630 on June 15, 2011, we trailed “BoB” to Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver, rigged her and launched, and at 0825 I set off, rowing and sailing in a breath of wind from the west-northwest. The wind increased steadily during the day and I put into Gibsons to escape it just before 1500, then departed again at 1615 for the passage along the coast to Roberts Creek.

It was sailing of the wet and wonderful kind, hard on the wind and tacking the whole way, but as 1800 approached the wind died well short of Roberts Creek. I rowed the last five miles or so and was welcomed at the creek by two Coast Guard Auxiliary officers from Gibsons, who had seen me leave the harbour. They followed my progress from the coast road and, waxing lyrical about BoB, guided me to the safest possible place to tie up. As I surveyed our mooring, a small crested bird landed on my head. We froze for a second or two until, panic-stricken, it shot off into the twilight.

The next morning, 0530 found us at sea in light, variable winds and a nasty short chop that made it a constant battle to keep BoB moving. Eventually, the sun won out over the haze, the wind and waves dropped, and we made steady progress two to three miles from the mainland shore. But by mid-afternoon the wind blew southeast and hard. Before long I had two reefs in the lugs’l and swished northward at an astonishing speed. Seeking relief, I drove into Quarry Bay at the entrance to Jervis Inlet but found no beaches or decent anchorages. I popped back outside and turned once more to the northwest past Cape Cockburn, then into Blind Bay before finding a safe berth in Musket Island Provincial Park. It was occupied by several large yachts, mostly American-flagged, and one, now two lonely Canadians. I was astonished when they told me they quit the strait much earlier because it was so rough.

I had to manhandle BoB into the water the next morning because I had misjudged high tide, which passed a half-hour earlier. I made my way northwest toward the tip of Texada Island and Grief Point – the halfway point of my journey and the boundary between the protected waters of the Sunshine Coast and the northern Strait of Georgia, between Texada and Quadra islands.

This great bight has a long history of storms and loss. The wind blew a steady 15-17 knots from the southeast, the sun shone, and I had a choice: I could go inside Harwood Island and stop at Lund for a night’s rest, then continue the following day to Maurelle, or enter the bight and save a day. I hesitated, measuring my stamina against a long day’s sail, the possibility of difficult weather and likely refuges. Then I chose the bight.

At 1140 I transited Algerine Passage and steered for the southern tip of Marina Reef, arriving at 1615. Here, the winds were more stable at 10-12 knots with occasional gusts, still southeast. Landmarks came and went effortlessly, but not once did I take my eyes from the sea ahead, nor a hand from the tiller. I made Hoskyn Channel with the dying wind. During the entire passage I did not see a single sailing yacht, and perhaps two or three skiffs checking on crab pots in the distance. Where was everyone?

I rowed the last 10 miles or so to our camp, oblivious to everything except the poetry of motion and pause, stroke and feather. It was perfectly still and beautiful. At 2100 I was moored at the camp and admiring the Columbia III, now a mother ship for kayakers but for many years one of the Columbia Coast Mission boats. I thanked Leighton for his inspiration and toasted his memory with a large whisky before retiring to dream in the gently but persistently rocking arms of Morpheus.

The trip had taken me 61 hours from departure to arrival, 42 hours at sea. I spent about 15 hours at sea rowing, and the rest under sail. My average speed for the trip was about 2.8 knots.

Tim Ellis is a marine surveyor based in Burnaby BC.

Photo Caption: Tim Ellis and BoB ready for departure at Horseshoe Bay.
Related Articles
Canada
  • 23 June 2020
  • By Ethan

Safe anchorages in Desolation Sound

Desolation Sound is a deep-water sound located at the northern end of the Salish Sea and the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia. Boasting some of the warmest waters on Pacific coast as well as...

Cobourg Yacht Club - 2015 Sailing instructorsKatherine Stone

Like many other harbours on Lake Ontario, Cobourg has seen its fair share of changes. Screams used to be heard from kids piled into a toboggan on wheels that went hurtling down a wooden slide into the harbour. Above it all was the bustling din from the waterfront of ship’s whistles, train engines, foghorns and thundering coal cars. It is now a rather serene place for the locals and visitors to enjoy various watercraft. Fortunately, the beautiful beach that lines the waterfront is still a star attraction for the town.

Located 95 kilometres east of Toronto and 62 kilometres east of Oshawa on the north edge of Lake Ontario, United Empire Loyalists first starting arriving in the area as early as the 1780s. The first settlement in 1798 was called Buckville, later renamed Amherst, then called Hamilton (after the township) and also nicknamed Hardscrabble. It wasn’t until 1819 that they finally settled on the name of Cobourg, which was incorporated as a town in 1837. In the late 1820s large schooners with passengers and cargo had to anchor well off shore, as there was only a landing wharf. A group of Toronto businessmen formed the Cobourg Harbour Company which built the wooden Eastern Pier from tolls charged for the use of the harbour.

Read more: Cobourg Yacht Club...

DIY & How to

  • Prev
Many boats are now on the water after a COVID-imposed hiatus – and with a shortened ‘prep’ period, ...
Wrapping your hull with marine vinyl wrap instead using traditional marine paint seems like a new ...
Boating safety is always—always—a critical consideration whenever you push off the dock, but with ...
Building on our last two editions (Sealants, and Fibreglass, respectively), Gelcoat is the next ...
After a successful R2Ak and regatta season in 2019, I felt that Pitoraq was due for a major ...
Pause for a moment and ponder this question. How much is your life and your safety at sea worth? ...
Last edition we talked about sealants to perform tasks like bedding and sealing. Other tasks like ...
Over the winter, a many-thousand pound fiberglass, wood or metal shell is held in position by only ...
Since the late 19th century, a debate has raged on the relative merits of diesel fuel over ...
This bag does more than hold your anchor and rode in one tidy little pile. After you’ve anchored ...

Andrew AlbertiIn the past two issues we have been doing an overview of the right-of-way rules. In the first, we did a review of Section A of Part 2, in the second we did a review of the definitions. This issue, we will look at Section B of Part 2, General Limitations, which is essentially limitations applying to boats that have right of way according to Section A.

GENERAL LIMITATIONS

14 AVOIDING CONTACT

A boat shall avoid contact with another boat if reasonably possible. However, a right-of-way boat or one entitled to room or mark-room

Read more about the right-of-way rules.......................

 

  

Boat Reviews

  • Prev
New at the end of 2019, the 58 Salon Express design features large windows to flood the living ...
No wonder this is one of Regal’s best-selling boats; the Regal 33 Express offers amazing ...
The newest member of Beneteau’s Gran Turismo line is the GT 36 and this yacht brings the style and ...
With a philosophy of quality and 'doing things right Ranger Tugs launches the all new R-25 at the ...
The new Beneteau Swift Trawler 41 renews the spirit of the practical seaworthy cruiser. The ...
The Canadian Yachting test crew last week had the opportunity to run the Bavaria S36 HT at St ...

CY Virtual Video Boat Tours

Virtual Boat ToursWe all love boats and nothing can break us up! So, what better way to spend our time than looking at interesting boats and going aboard in a virtual ride or tour. We have asked our friends at various dealers and manufacturers to help us assemble a one-stop online resource to experience some of the most interesting boats on the market today. Where the CY Team has done a review, we connect you to that expert viewpoint. Our Virtual Show will continue to grow so visit frequently and check it out. If you can’t go boating, you can almost experience the thrill via your screen. Not quite the same, but we hope you enjoy our fine tour collection.

 

Read more about the CY Virtual Boat Tours....................

 

Beneteau Oceanis 30.1As boat builders clamber to create ever-bigger platforms for ever-more generous budgets, the entry-level cruiser has become an elusive animal. Sure, if you want to daysail, there are plenty of small open boats from which to choose, but if you want a freshly built pocket cruiser, you’re in for a long search. Enter French builder Groupe Beneteau, which identified this gap in the market and set about creating the Oceanis 30.1, an adorable little cruiser that resembles her larger siblings in all but length and price. With all she offers, it wouldn’t be a stretch to call her a mini yacht.

Read More about the Beneteau Oceanis 30.1..................

Destinations

  • Prev
On May 19, the New York State Canal Corporation today announced an updated opening schedule for the ...
If you have four hours to enjoy a fine tour of one of Canada’s most interesting waterways (let’s ...
Boom & Batten Restaurant is suspended over the water adjacent to the Songhees Walkway and ...
Provincial Boat Havens are those special places to drop anchor in British Columbia’s West Coast and ...
NW Explorations, a Bellingham, Washington-based yacht charter, brokerage, and marine services ...

DolphinsBy the Canadian Yachting Editors


Canadians are blessed in many ways and especially when it comes to boating. We enjoy some the world’s most beautiful cruising waters and many places are as sheltered as they are scenic.

British Columbia and the Pacific North West plainly have the most breath-taking scenery with the combination of the majestic ocean views and the snow-capped mountains in the distance. It’s like no place on earth when you have a Killer Whale breach beside your little fishing boat.

Read more about Canadian Cruising...........

 

Marine Products

  • Prev
Wet decking can compromise passenger safety on boats, particularly when boarding or disembarking. ...
Anyone who has repeatedly used a rag to clean gelcoat, paint and delicate surfaces has seen the ...
The new Mercury Racing 300hp Five‑Blade CNC Cleaver propellers are designed expressly to maximize ...
Beneteau may have outdone itself with introduction of its new Gran Turismo 36, manufactured in ...
Yanmar Power Technology has announced the development of a hydrogen fuel cell system for maritime ...
Kevin Monahan is a retired Canadian Coast Guard officer with more than 20 years of experience ...
The new 2020 PORTS Georgian Bay, North Channel & Lake Huron Guide is available for purchase at ...
Professional boatbuilders don't want to have to redo a job any more than a DIYer. Many choose Life ...
Since its introduction last year, the JBL by Harman Marine BassPro 10" Powered Subwoofer (JBLMBP10) ...
After decades of perusing charts and guidebooks as part of planning a cruise, it was a totally ...