Winter lights

One upside to winter\’s shorter days is the nighttime lights. Whether from a passing ship, a moored boat, or a nearby house, we enjoy being snug inside with a view to lights twinkling in the distance. The show gets even better during the Christmas season, when colorful holiday light displays are put on afloat and ashore. Much of the time we spent in Barkley Sound over Christmas was away from any signs of civilization, and the nights were pitch black. We didn\’t see much in the way of winter light displays until arriving in the Gulf Islands.

Here\’s our log from the Sidney to Port Madison, or you can display them on the live map view.

1/1/12: Sunrise over Olympics
Happy New Year. The winds were still blowing from the east as we left Sidney Spit, and predicted to hit gale force this afternoon. We\’d left Effingham at exactly the right time. Yesterday the winds at La Perouse bank were blowing 13 at 7am and were up to 21 by noon. By mid-afternoon the winds were blowing in the high 20s, gusting into the mid 30\’s, and were still at that speed this morning.

1/1/12: Tsehum Harbor Public Wharf
Fishing fleet on the Tsehum Harbor Public Wharf. We took a tour around Van Isle Marina along the south side of Tsehum Harbor. The place was full of Nordhavns–we saw two 62s, three 55s, a 47 and several 40s.

1/1/12: S/V Kestral
S/V Kestral heading out for a rum race.

1/1/12: Close quarters
Spitfire looking nervous as we turn around in the marina. He\’s not big on close quarters.

1/1/12: Abandoned cabin
Abandoned cabin on Harlock Islet.

1/1/12: Pocket tug
Pocket tug in Page Passage.

1/1/12: Lewis Bay
We\’re anchored in Lewis Bay, on the northwest end of Coal Island, with a view to the ferries at Swartz Bay. The Coastal Celebration and the Mayne Queen already were at the dock when we dropped hook, and the Spirit of Vancouver Island and the Skeena Queen arrived shortly after. Winter allows us different choiced in anchorages than the summer, partly due to less crowds but also due to prevailing winds. Lewis Bay would not be a great summer anchorage with a northwest wind blowing, but we\’ve got gale force winter southerlies in the forecast and Lewis Bay is well-sheltered from that direction.

1/1/12: Dockside Grill
We ran the dinghy to Tsehum Harbor for a quick of the area and to see if the Dockside Grill was open. It was closed for New Year\’s Day. Bummer–their view looked awesome.

1/1/12: Marina beacon
This beacon is in the middle of one of the fairways at Van Isle Marina. And they\’re serious–a big rock is underneath that post.

1/2/12: Sunrise
Sunrise over the head of Lewis Bay.

1/2/12: Ferry terminal
We love having a view to a ferry run, and being able to see the terminal was even better. Winter is a great time for ferry watching–the late dawn and early dusk means the ferries are lit up more often than in summer. From the anchorage we also could see several large cargo ships way down Satellite Channel towards Cowichan, and lights on the hills on the southern tip of of Saltspring Island.

1/2/12: Spirit of VI
Spirit of Vancouver Island off Fir Cone Point, at the northern tip of Cole Island. Lewis Bay turned out to be an excellent anchorage. We were a little concerned that the ferry wakes might be a problem, but no wakes of any note came through the entire time we were there, even when the big Spirit-class ferries came booming through.

1/2/12: Coastal Celebration
The Coastal Celebration is the newest BC Ferry. It sailed from Germany through the Panama Canal, arriving in June of 2008. The bridge is unusually low in the bow compared to the other ships of that size.

1/2/12: Coast Guard
Canadian Coast Guard ships moored in Patricia Bay. The Institute of Ocean Sciences is in the background.

1/2/12: Brentwood Bay
We\’re anchored off another ferry dock–this one a lot smaller than the last though. The previous time we were in the area, the temperature was below freezing for days. Todd Inlet to our south was completely iced in. Brentwood Bay is another good Christmas anchorage– houses pack the shores, many with holiday lights.

1/2/12: S/V Cetacea
S/V Cetacea at anchor nearby in Brentwood Bay. Everthing was painted black, even the kayaks.

1/2/12: The Sea Lion
The century-old tug Sea Lion on the docks at Brentwood Bay. We\’ve seen this boat as far north as the Nakwakto Rapids, working as a floating resort, and more recently moored at the Vancouver Maritime Museum on False Creek.

1/2/12: Public dock
Looking west across the public dock into Brentwood Bay.

1/2/12: Brentwood Bay Resort
We had an excellent lunch at the pub in the fabulous glass and cedar Brentwood Bay Resort.

1/3/12: Ganges Harbour
Ganges is a busy water aerodrome. The planes run fairly close to the anchored boats–it\’s a pretty exciting show. The harbor is open to the south, and big southerly blows will generate waves. But the waves tend to be less than a foot or so and not uncomfortable. We love anchoring here in the winter–crowds are less and the shores all around twinkle with light after dark.

1/3/12: Cape Kuper
Cape-class 47\’ motor lifeboat Cape Kuper heads out from its base in Ganges.

1/4/12: School bus
Water taxi The Graduate arrives into Ganges. While we watched from Shipstones pub last night, several dozen kids boarded this boat, Scolarship and Ganges Hawk. The vessels returned back to Ganges a few hours later. They headed out again this morning and all returned about the same time.

1/4/12: Seahorse
Seahorse moored behind us, with the Coast Guard station in the background.

1/4/12: Ducks
Finally got our ducks all in a row. :)

1/5/12: Sunrise
Sunrise looking south through Swanson Channel. We ended up spending an extra night in Ganges, just catching up on various projects, watching the floatplanes and hitting each of the two waterfront pubs for dinner.

1/5/12: Rainbow
Rainbow over Mount Tuam, Saltspring Island.

1/5/12: Wind in Haro Strait
A gale warning was in effect for the Strait of Juan de Fuca, east entrance. In Haro Strait the winds were gusting to nearly 40 knots from the southwest. We were expecting to take real pounding when we rounded Gonzales Pt along the southern tip of Vancouver Island. But the gale warning had ended and winds had calmed by the time we got there, and the seas were smooth.

1/5/12: Esquimalt Harbor
HMCS Algonquin and HMCS Regina just inside the entrance to Esquimalt Harbour, with HMCS Protecteur behind. Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Esquimalt covers 10,300 acres on both sides of Esquimalt Harbor and employs some 4,000 military and 2,000 civilian personnel. Their primary misson is to support Canada\’s Pacific Fleet. Esquimalt is the first Secret Coast destination we\’ve visited in the 52. Other than the Desolation Sound trip last Christmas, we\’ve not been up the Inside Passage beyond the Gulf Islands. Both summer Alaska trips were offshore.

1/5/12: Navy ships
HMCS Saskatoon and HMCS Brandon moored deep inside the harbor. Alongside likely are HMCS Whitehorse and HMCS Yellowknife.

1/5/12: Coastal Inspiration
BC Ferry Coastal Inspiration moored alongside the Esquimalt Graving Dock. The 1,200\’ dry dock is the largest on the Pacific coast and can handle som 90% of the world\’s ships.

1/5/12: Six Mile House
Pints of Kilkenny at Six Mile House. In the past we landed below the pub and climbed up through their garden. They\’ve put a fence up, however, so we couldn\’t go up that way. We instead landed under the bridge and climbed up to the Parsons Bridge Park path and then walked up to the road.

1/6/12: Dawn
Dawn looking from the anchorage toward Dockyard, CFB Esquimalt\’s main facility. The Olympic Mountains are in the distance. Some of the base lights still are visible, but nothing compared to the display at night. One of Esquimalt Harbor\’s many attractions, especially in the winter, is the nighttime view of the brightly-lit base.

1/6/12: Sir Wilfred Laurier
CCGS Sir Wilfred Laurier, a light icebreaker, arriving in Esquimalt Harbor to tend the buoy at the entrance.

1/6/12: Breakwater
Sunrise over the Ogden Point breakwater.

1/6/12: Float plane
Float plan readying for takeoff in the inner habor.

1/6/12: Victoria Inner Harbour
The Causeway floats usually are near empty in the winter, but were packed when we arrived on Friday morning. The Victoria Harbor Authority now allows winter moorage there, so most of the boats were somewhat permanent.

1/6/12: Coho
The Coho rounding Laurel Point on arrival into Victoria. It sure looks like a tight squeeze for a ship that size.

1/6/12: Bastion Square
Historic Bastion Square, packed with tourists in the summer, is pretty quiet today.

1/6/12: Murchie\’s
We had an excellent breakfast at Murchie\’s, and spent the day in Victoria touring around and visiting with family. And, of course, we managed to fit a pub stop in there too.

1/7/12: Port Madison
Paul Johansen at its mooring in Port Madison. We left Victoria about 5am this morning, and arrived here at 2pm. We only ever to go Port Madison in the winter–its too crowded other times. The harbor is an excellent winter anchorage: snug with good wind protection, and in the early evening the lights from the houses on the hills above cast a warm glow.


Previous log post for this trip: Weather window

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