September 9, 2017: Ha-har, matey: A rainy journey to Pirates Cove

More rain–real, rinsing, refreshing rain that began around 7:30 am, increased through the day, wandered away in the early afternoon, and left the air and island shores cool, cleansed, fragrant, and renewed after four days of a gloomy, oppressive atmosphere and ugly smoke-fouled skies. What a welcome gift!

Friday night was a noisy one during which wavelets in the marina slapped, tapped, and gurgled around Braesail’s stern in fascinating rhythms, and larger waves from the wakes of passing boats produced several sharp thumps in a row before dissipating. Quite a percussion recital!

We slept quite well despite the bangs and bumps, and Walt filled Braesail’s water tanks at around 8:45 while I located an e-mail on my laptop that he needed for insurance purposes, stored last-minute items safely away, and latched cabin and cupboard doors after downing a raspberry/whole wheat scone for breakfast; I’d disposed of garbage above the docks on Friday evening and thus didn’t have to go on shore again before our departure. The lovely rain, falling gently but steadily, had washed considerable pollution from docks, boats, air, and sky, but paused considerately for a few minutes while I watched, from Braesail’s rear deck, its swinging stern for clearance as Walt pulled away from the False Creek Yacht Club’s dock at about 9:30 am. I coiled and hung up the dock lines and raised and secured the fenders in the stern as raindrops returned, and we began a 5.5-hour motoring journey away from Vancouver, across the Strait of Georgia, through the sometimes dangerous Porlier Pass (we make sure that our trips through such places occur at slack tides, when passage is quite easy and safe), into and among a few of the many Canadian Gulf Islands, and through the tricky entrance into Pirates Cove Provincial Marine Park on De Courcy Island.

During our journey, the wind increased from about 7 kts. to 14-15 kts. as we crossed the Strait, and the volume of rain rose as well, but wave action was not dreadfully uncomfortable with the wind blowing over the port side just forward of the stern, and with little current opposition to our direction of travel. Braesail did rock and roll somewhat as we motored beneath charcoal skies and over agitated iron- blue water; the wind plowed the sea fields and sowed them with raindrop seeds and we rode over the undulating furrows and ridges. Walt turned on the heat in the cockpit and brought up large insulated mugs of hot tea and some apples which “hit the spot” very nicely!

The rain gradually thinned and faded away as we approached the Gulf Islands, and once through Porlier Pass at 1:30 we had the wind at our stern and the ride was quite smooth and comfortable as we enjoyed “following seas” pushed along behind us by winds of 8-9 kts. I heated spicy black bean soup in the galley and served it with corn chips in the cockpit, and wondered at the rock formations lining the shores of Valdes Island to our starboard; they resembled great walls built of enormous boulder-bricks stacked one upon another and fringed with evergreens along their tops.

Pirates Cove

Pirates Cove overview
A tug-style boat stern tied in Pirates Cove on De Courcy Island

contained a number of boats when we arrived there at about 3 pm, some docked in a small private marina and others anchored out in the cove or stern tied to the astonishing wind-and-wave-sculpted sandstone rocks ringing the shores.

Pirates Cove stern tying chain
Sculpted sandstone and a stern tying chain near the entrance to Pirates Cove
Pirates Cove standstone
Sandstone caves and layers near the dinghy dock in Pirates Cove

We found a place in which to drop anchor away from the shores and other boats, and by the time we were bobbing gently in a soft breeze, the embattled sun had at last emerged victorious from its day-long conflict with the stubbornly-resisting clouds–the first time we had seen it in its “natural state” since Monday afternoon when smoke began to veil it! Walt napped, I sat in the cockpit and read and began this post, drank in the rain-freshened air, listened to the distinctive calls of several different birds (one of which sounded like someone’s laughter: “Ha, ha, ha, ha!”), and loved looking at the glittering waters of the cove and the fir and arbutus trees lining its shores and those of several surrounding islands. The long rocky fingers that reach out from the sides of the cove’s entrance to grasp unwary boats were now submerged by the rising tide, and the seagulls that had perched upon them were long flown.

Pirates Cove entrance reef
The reef at the entrance to Pirates Cove: Notice the honeycombed sandstone and the scatted clam shell fragments washed up from the midden beaches

After Walt had awakened from his slumber, we enjoyed a “happy hour” of chips, cheese dip, and grapes, over which we talked about places we might visit next week. I continued to write while seated in the cockpit where I could enjoy the fading evening light, and Chef Walter made us a late steak dinner with more “Cherry Garcia” ice cream and chocolate chip cookies for dessert. After I’d completed KP duties, I finished this blog entry while Walt worked on various projects on his new laptop, now behaving very well. I’ve suggested that we stay here another day and night, and I hope to get some pictures of this wonderful place on Sunday after a much quieter night!

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