Arrr! Ankerrrr like a Pirate.

If you want to head south from Nanaimo (and south is warmer, right??), and you don’t want to go out into the open Strait of Georgia, you get to go through Dodd Narrows. That’s particularly the case since we wanted to visit Brother XII at his headquarters on De Courcy Island.

The only problem with Dodd Narrows is that on December 30, 2021, the current in that narrow body of water at 9:30 in the morning is 4.5 knots, (heading north) against the direction we wanted to go. And I lied. That’s not the only problem, for at 3:45 in the afternoon, it’s running at 7.5 knots, in our direction, and is very turbulent. It could be even worse, as 10:30 in the evening, it hits 8.5 knots northbound. Braesail, throttles wide open, can do 8.5 knots in still water, and would be completely dead in the water–except that the water would be churning madly between the Scylla of Vancouver Island and the Charybdis of Mudge Island. In which case our 33,000 lbs of boat would be tossed about like a leaf in a mountain rapids. In these tidal rapids, Charybdis moves from the side of the channel into the middle and is strong enough to eat almost anyone foolish who would come by. Not even Odysseus could pilot his way through that mess. However, at 12:00 noon, the waters will pause for about a half hour on their rush through the gap, and we can sneak by while Scylla takes a short nap.

To meet that 12:00 date, we have to leave our berth at the yacht club at about 10:30. Unfortunately, we dawdled about and didn’t get off by 10:00, which would have allowed us time to top our water tanks at the PetroCan. So the good ship Braesail left Nanaimo with half-full water tanks and scooted down Northumberland Channel for our time at Dodd Narrows.

Tidal flow prediction is not an absolute science. While you can get very close by looking at the moon, the sun, the rotation of the earth, and the bathymetry of the channels, winds in general, and storms in particular, will change the timing of tidal rapids. When we got to the narrows, the current had already turned and was running at about a knot “downhill”, but that’s no problem as long as one keeps the rpms down.

When we popped out of Dodd Narrows, we were treated to stunning vistas of the west side of De Courcy Island.

Sailing in a winter wonderland

After a few more minutes of mindblowing ice-scapes we rounded Ruxton Island to our starboard, and entered Pylades Channel (with a view this heavenly, it should have been called the Pleiades Channel, if you ask me!)

Entrance to Pirates Cove

We slipped into Pirates Cove Provincial Marine Park and dropped the ankerrrr. And just because we could, we stern-tied in the snow.

Our stern tie in Pirates Cove

At least one of the sites of Brother XII’s communes is up the hill from where that long yellow rope connects, in the snow, to a chain on shore.

The view from Braesail to the south in Pirates Cove

And with that, we put our feet up in a warm cabin and enjoyed the evening together. Because we are roughing it on Braesail, we forced down a lovely stew of wild boar and rich BC Pinot Noir. Life is tough, but somebody has to do this sort of exploration.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s