July 1, 2017: Happy Canada Day from Vancouver Island!

Happy Canada Day, everyone! It’s Canada’s 150th birthday today, and we are at the Ladysmith Yacht Club’s guest dock (about 15 miles south of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island) for tonight, having arrived here around 2:30 on this beautiful, slightly-breezy afternoon.

Bright sunlight and cheery bird songs awakened us after a very quiet night in Annette Inlet, and by about 10:15 am, following a lovely breakfast of pancakes with a sauce made from frozen strawberries, we were very carefully motoring out of the inlet, which contains numerous rocks, sand bars, and shallow areas that boaters avoid by proceeding SLOWLY with close attention to the nautical charts of the area. Once out in the open ocean, we encountered winds of about 12 kts. and were able to “motor-sail” with our two foresails, the yankee and the staysail, unfurled. Later we added the mainsail to the mix and were able to turn off the diesel engine and enjoy about an hour of slow but quiet and relaxing sailing; I stayed at the helm while Walt occupied one of the two stern seats at the very end of the boat. We heard many distress calls coming over the radio, as one would expect on a warm holiday morning, one involving a boat adrift with no one aboard in busy Ganges Harbor where we’d been yesterday, another centering around a boat taking on water near the Dodd Narrows (through which we’ll go tomorrow) that needed to be towed to safety, and a third being a request for assistance from a boater observing a capsized 16-ft. power boat in another area we’d visited on Friday with several people in the choppy seas nearby–at least they were wearing life jackets (we heard that they were pulled to safety).

We were fortunate enough to find a space of sufficient size at the Ladysmith Yacht Club’s dock (reserved for visiting boaters with “reciprocal privileges” resulting from their memberships in other yacht clubs), and received some mooring help from another boater who had radioed us earlier to warn us about a “deadhead”–a tree stump floating vertically and difficult to see–that he had spotted near us when we were entering the harbor. Walt registered Braesail with the club before taking a nice long nap, and I worked at organizing and storing the contents of the two-bunk crew cabin in appropriate places and making up the bottom berth; I was pleased with the results of my labors.

I produced this post while Walt began dinner preparations and then started the second book he wants to read for his liturgical studies conference presentation in Leuven, Belgium, in early August. After a tasty hot dog/sauerkraut supper, we toasted Canada’s well being and I finished preparations for the arrival of Walt’s almost-92-year-old mother, Joy, his brother, Ken (who was along for most of Braesail’s voyage from southern California to Anacortes 13 months ago), and Ken’s wife, Lisa, who will be coming aboard Sunday morning to join us for the day. Ken and Lisa will begin their return drive to the Sacramento, CA, area  on Monday morning, while Joy remains on board with us through July 17, when she will fly from Campbell River on Vancouver Island back to her central California home. We enjoyed her company during last summer’s three-week excursion and are happy that she can be with us again!

Before closing my day I decided to walk from our boat up along the docks to the marina gate to see where trash and recycling bins might be located (they were a good ways off, but I found them). On the way I stopped to watch several silvery herons hunting for a late dinner and met and chatted with a gentleman out walking his two dogs, and then I spent some time sharing stories with a very pleasant couple rebuilding their trawler. The shore ramp was decorated with white balloons bearing red maple leafs in celebration of Canada Day, with hanging baskets of petunias and lobelia near the gate–very festive! Now I knew where to meet Joy, Ken, and Lisa on Sunday, and I strolled back through the cool evening shadows, past Walt, who was helping a boater with his engine, to the boat, to a shower, and to slumber.

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