We left the dock in Victoria in the morning of June 21st. We were on our way to Ucluelet to meet up with the other Bluewater Cruising Association members who would be participating in the annual Vancouver Island Cruising Experience (VICE) which this year was meeting in Ucluelet to the head offshore to a waypoint 150 miles and then we would meet up again afterward in Bamfield.
The Bluewater Cruising Association has been a wonderful resource for us this past year. We have really benefited from the many people who have so openly shared their wisdom, experience and friendship as we’ve been preparing for this new lifestyle of bluewater sailing. Once in Ucluelet it was wonderful to pull into the dock and get hugs and welcoming that one would expect at a reunion or homecoming. The next day was spent getting our radio communications in order and some last minute provisioning and stowing. The group agreed to leave the dock at 7:30am the next day. There was no way we could get up and going that early. Clearly we were the only ones in the group on “family time” so we ended up leaving the dock at 10am. No problem. We initiated the first roll call on the VHF and managed to connect with half of the boats.
The first day out was the rockiest and most uncomfortable. La Perouse bank is shallow and subsequently the ocean swell that reaches it just gets piled up and lumpy… and in addition to that the wind was from the south which is unusual so there was a cross sea pattern as well… bumpity bump bump! I got bruises on my hips from getting thrown around the cabin as I tried to get anywhere. The simplest of tasks became so incredibly energy intensive. Poor little Nel could barely keep herself seated on the toilet (of all places) given how rolly the boat was at that time. It was also amazing to realize how many items we had thought we really needed that now, given how the boat was moving, turned out to just become annoying things in the way that we wished we never had. So quickly did the bonds of attachment break!
That night I barely slept at all while Pete took the first night watch. Our Monitor windvane (“Monty”) worked wonderfully! What a pleasant surprise and heartfelt wonder! I came on watch at 3am. Things had started to settle down by then. The AIS receiver was also a wonderful help as it gives you so much useful information while crossing the busy shipping lanes near the busy entrance of the Straight of Juan de Fuca serving the busy ports of Vancouver and Seattle. All those items that we all own that are made in China likely originate their journey in North America here!
The second day and night were better. We had all realized how we needed to move around the boat to minimize bruises and falls. The aft cabin turned into a catch all for all the detritus that had found its way onto the floor and was such a safety hazard. That night Pete let me sleep in til 5am before handing over the watch. At this point the wind became lighter and we had made it to the 110 nautical mile mark. We had to make a decision. To carry on would mean adding another day to our trip. We were only averaging 5 knots… We made the decision to turn around and head back to land. We sailed for quite a while but then when about 40 miles from Bamfield decided to just get on with getting in there! As it was we would arrive at 1am that 3rd night. The fog stayed away (thankfully) and we made it in without any event up until we were just about to drop the anchor… we ended up hitting what we would later learn was a part of a roof floating half submerged under the water. No damage done, just a loud bang! to welcome us to Bamfield.
The next morning we met up the crews of Falcon VII and also with Seadra. Papillon II had to get underway before we were able to meet up with them there. Kialoa would arrive in a few days and Woodwind I decided to head back to the Gulf Islands. It was great to share a meal with Falcon VII and Kialoa after a few days of clearing the boat out and getting rid of the items that had gotten in the way offshore. The Bamfield “Sharing Shed” graciously received all these items and hopefully some people of Bamfield will find them useful. We found Brady’s Beach to be a very magical place and enjoyed it for days!!!
After Bamfield we went into the Broken Group (Pacific Rim National Park). Effingham Bay was the first anchorage we pulled into. We explored some f the small islands and the kids loved finding various treasures that we could then identify with the books back on the boat. We then went to Joe’s Bay anchorage and enjoyed the campsite where we roasted wieners and marshmallows one evening. The other islands around Turtle Island were captivating – the kids developed a “bush house” that was kind of like a tree house but in the middle of a stand of bushes and small trees that had different rooms and spaces – they played in there for hours and hours. The only mishap here was leaving the dinghy for too long without checking on it. When it was time to leave the tide had receded and the dinghy was up on some barnacle covered rocks about 4 ft up from the sea…. Luckily I had the tandem kayak so all just got on the kayak and I went back for the dinghy at high water around midnight that night – no harm done.
Our plan once the VICE was over was to stay on the west coast of the island and get more ocean sailing in to then be better able to decide if we were ready (or wanting) to carry on with a trip to Mexico in the Fall. At this point we’re sticking with the plan. We are still in the process of testing ourselves and the boat. The inner journey involved with our plan was not completely anticipated… There are a lot of mind games that can (and do!) play tricks on ourselves and one’s partner…
We’re in calm water now, but in our minds there’s a bit of a jostling happening. More on that next time.