Vancouver at last - our quest is at an end

Sat 9 Oct 2004 03:28
8th October 2004. From the free anchorage at False Creek, downtown

Dear All,

We hope you will enjoy the latest batch of photos on our website at

We are finally in Vancouver, having sailed over 16,000 miles from New
Zealand, and have landed at the city that has been the intended destination
for so long. We had a fantastic sail across the Strait of Georgia from the
Gulf Islands for the last leg of the trip with a strong NW, fantastic blue
skies and the sky scrappers of Vancouver appearing as we turned the corner
into English Bay. It was very exciting (if not a little sad) to finally get
to our intended end!

From Hot Spring Island in the Queen Charlottes we headed on south in a
windless calm to see the other delights of the National Park. We passed
through the Dolomite Narrows, which have a ferocious reputation, and indeed
we were swept through by the tide at a fair lick, keeping a close eye on the
transits that guide you on the S shaped wiggle passed the shallow rocks. We
anchored in Bag Bay on the south side and Lizzie and Chris set off ashore to
make a BBQ for our lunch. No sooner had they left the boat than the heavens
opened and dumped tones of water onto their fledgling fire. Even petrol had
no effect and so we had soup on the boat instead. But as the afternoon wore
on the weather miraculously cleared and so we set off for attempt number
two. The fire was coaxed gently into life and once hot was happy to burn any
of the soaking driftwood we offered it. Best of all was the Western red
cedar which burnt with a delicious smell. As the evening fell, a lone black
bear came ambling along the beach to see what was going on. He seemed barely
to notice us and wandered in and out of the undergrowth towards our
encampment. At first we were all very brave, taking pictures and keeping
quiet and low, but as he approached closer someone suggested we get Twofella
ready to make a quick get-away. No sooner was the suggestion made than we
all clambered into the tiny boat and made so much fuss that the bear soon
ambled off in disgust. He had come pretty close and we debated whether it
was safe to continue our BBQ in the dark, but cooking sausages got the
better of us and we had a historic BBQ with all the usual trimmings of
Lizzie taking control of the bench and stone circle making, Chris and I
starting anxiously at the smallest rustle from behind and Peter taking bossy
control of the fire, with Chris and Lizzie determinedly ignoring him and
doing exactly what they liked. It was great and we were not eaten by the
ferocious army of bears that I am sure were waiting in the shadows all the

The Queen Charlottes are famous for their very dense inter-tidal life. Tidal
streams and the upwellings from the deep Pacific Ocean make the waters some
of the most nutrient rich in the world. The Dolomite Narrows at low tide is
apparently one of the best places to see this, so the next morning all four
of us clambered back into Twofella to inspect. We were truly amazed by the
sheer biological diversity living on the rocks and in the shallow pools.
Literally hundreds and hundreds of brightly coloured starfish, all sizes and
numbers of legs, fish, anemones, mussels the size of coconuts (all sadly
inedible because of red tide), barnacles, urchins, and more and more. It was
absolutely wonderful and quite unlike any other rock pools we had ever seen.

We were late, but we absolutely had to see the totem poles on Anthony Island
and the sea lion rookery at Cape St James. The totem poles were in a state
of decay as they are now about 100 years old and intricately carved, but
they are some of the last remaining evidence that the Haida people really
populated the whole archipelago before they were almost wiped out by an
outbreak of smallpox. It was in the totem poles the Haida people
incarcerated their dead, the idea being that when the totem pole decayed the
bones of their ancestors would be dropped back to the ground and returned to
nature, eerily resulting in a liberal scattering of human bones all over the
village green! The bones have all been stolen, but the small boxes on the
totem poles where they would have been put were still clearly visible. The
island itself was lovely. The kind of manageable island that would be really
wonderful to own and spend glorious summer holidays on. We rather envied the
Haida watchmen who camp out there in the summer and protect the island. On
the beautiful day we were there, with sunlight streaming through the
woodland and the lush moss covering everything, it must be a job to die for.

The calm on our way south gave us the perfect conditions for getting really
close to the sea lions. There were even some very small pups that were
clearly this year's brood and two huge males in amongst their harem of
barking females. The current around the rocks meant we could ferry-glide
slowly towards to the sunbathing hordes without creating too much alarm and
see these huge creatures from very close to. But the calm was ominous
considering the formidable weather forecasts. SE gales were just what we did
not need for getting south and we were determined to motor as far as
possible before they arrived. They hit us thankfully after we had crossed
the Queen Charlotte Sound when we were in the very narrow Johnstone Strait
between Vancouver Island and the Mainland. With a steady 35 knots of true
wind and a current against us of between 1.5-2.5 knots we made good a grand
total of 1.5 miles in each hour! We gave up at Port Harvey, the first snug
hole to stop in, after six hours of entertaining bashing to windward. The
severe weather passed overnight and the next day it was flat calm again and
although we still had the current against us we were able to get on our way.
The escort of two Orcas also steadily making their way against the current
rewarded us. As we were keen to keep as close to the Orcas as possible we
discovered that they were keeping very close inshore to make the most of the
back eddies. We followed their example with great success for the rest of
the day.

Lizzie and Chris sadly had to depart from us in Campbell River and head
overland to Vancouver and back to the UK. We on the other hand were late to
join in with the Cruising Club of America and Ocean Cruising Club meets we
had been invited to in the Gulf Islands and had to push straight on.

Meeting with the CCA and the OCC was a wonderful end to our cruise.
Everybody was so keen to give us advice as to where to leave the boat, how
to truck the boat, where to have ultrasound scans and every other bit of
help they could think of giving us. We met people who we had been looking
forward to seeing for a long time and we met loads of new people. The
feasting was quite unlike anything else we have had on the trip so far, with
two yacht club dinners, one at the Royal Victoria and the other at the Royal
Vancouver, two pig roasts and other parties and drinks etc. We were
delighted that we were given the prize for the people who had come the
furthest to the meet at the Royal Vic (joint with two other boats, although
we had come much further!!!) and given the prize for the youngest people
there at the Royal Van and dramatically reducing the average age of the OCC
(especially with Nipprog being less than zero!)

The meet's final party took place at Vancouver so bringing us neatly to the
conclusion of our voyage around the Pacific, and loads of people to
celebrate with.

We have now spent a week in Vancouver doing things like booking flights back
to the UK, researching places to leave Kokiri for the winter, and having
Ultrasound scans. We really love the scan bit as Nipprog is in fine form and
the right size with all the right bits in all the right places. Sex unknown!
It was defiantly waving at us at one point and we could see all its tiny
fingers, and we got a very clear image of the bottom of its feet (33mm long)
with its legs crossed in a very laid back pose. I wonder who it takes

Our plan now is to spend the next two months cruising the sheltered islands
of the Strait of Georgia, sort out the boat and get her ready to be left for
the winter. We fly home on 22nd Dec and so will be home in time for
Christmas and to have the baby. Can not wait to see you all and catch up on
all that is going on in the UK!

So from the first rainy day in ages we send you all our love, winter is
approaching here, we hope the weather is still treating you well at home.

Katharine and Peter