Rest day! Steve has had us on a tight schedule to get back so he can see his new grandson (not yet born) but the schedule allowed for a stopover day in Ganges.
The first order of business was transportation. We headed up to the marina parking lot and conveniently there is a car/scooter rental business there. And we were lucky. The scooters were rented out later in the day but we could get in just before that reservation. We filled out the paperwork, fitted ourselves for the designer helmets, and took a practice lap in front of the staff to prove we were scooter worthy. I’m wondering how many people wreck them doing the practice?
Off we went. We decided the first stop was going to be almost the furthest away and it had cheese. We zoomed towards the Salt Spring Island Cheese Farm Shop. Zooming may be a stretch. Should have described it as putted towards. Back to the cheese. The Salt Spring Farm shop is a wonderful place. Why? You get to see, and pet, goats and they have cheese!
About the cheese, they make wonderful cheese from, you probably guessed it by now, goats’ milk. You can tour around their property, check out the goats, and get some free samples. And then of course buy some cheese for the trek home. Hope they don’t get to picky about cheese when we cross the border tomorrow. Bonus! Steve got the call from his daughter while we were eating cheese: his grandson was born earlier that morning!
After we had some delicious cheese we headed down the road to the Ruckle Provincial Park. It’s a large park on the south end of the island that was donated but still keeps active farms so they have a wide range of animals for your viewing pleasure. We arrived right as the cattle were fed so it was awesome to see them eating and playing with the hay.
Our time was almost up on the scooters so we started making the way back to the marina. We made one last stop before town at the Ciderworks. They had so many options we didn’t know what to choose so we went with a flight. As with all beverage flights there are good and there are not-as-good but it is was a fun time and a nice location with a great view!
The weather looked good so we had made the decision to get up very early and make the long run down to Ganges so we could spend a day on Salt Spring Island before heading back to the States. And a long day it was. The longest of the trip in fact. We clocked in 13.86 hours and traveled 108.24 nautical miles. Phew…. but a very smooth ride minus a few ferry wakes!
After settling in at the Salt Spring Marina, we headed up to Moby’s Pub for a small bite to eat. We were joined by our fellow Tyee members Todd and Andrea. It was great to see them and see more boaters expanding their season up to Canada.
Got up early and paddled over to the shore in Francis Bay. The bay has remnants of an old logging camp, including a stairway that looks like they used to get to a dock that had seen better days. Above the shoreline was a road that was mostly overgrown but traversable to a point.
After we were finished hiking, we pulled the anchor and were off to Refuge Cove. Refuge Cove is a nice area that has a marina, fuel, store, and gift shop. They also have a restaurant that is rumored to have good burgers but they were closed for remodeling.
We’re starting a pattern: get up, hike, and then boat. The morning’s hike took us to Big Cedar and then on the Viewpoint Trail. Neither were all that strenuous but it’s great to be out getting the body moving.
We decided earlier that we’d stick around until early afternoon so we could transit Dent Rapids (by the Devil’s Hole) at slack current. That also gave us the additional opportunity to hit the restaurant and take in their daily specials.
After a great lunch we cast off and headed to Dent. We left a little early so when we got there, we had to wait about 45 minutes. We just floated around and when we got impatient, we took the tug passage and transited smoothly.
After the rapids we cruised by all the resorts and came up to Jimmy Judd Island. We noticed a bunch of splashing and then saw huge sea lions as we passed. They appeared to be feeding vigorously.
We started out the day by doing the hike to the Blow Hole. It was a great little stroll out and then around the island. We planned to go up the lookout trail that isn’t really a lookout but there were trees blocking the way so we decided to go back to the marina.
Upon returning to the marina, we spotted a huge number of starfish. Tonia loves starfish if you haven’t figured that out yet.
I loved the quarantine sign. Dan (owner) was joking and said it was required earlier in the year. The real story was they had a dock at one point that they wanted to keep people off and the improvised quarantine sign did a great job.
After a bit of coffee, we cast the lines and headed down the Johnstone strait and decided that Blind Channel Resort was a good place to end up for the night and celebrate Tonia’s birthday eve dinner.
We started the day by kayaking over to the Provincial Marine Park and hiking up to the top.
Went thru the Burdwood Group Islands on the way towards the Tribune Channel. Saw a lot of people on shore via small boats, kayaks and canoes.
We were told that Kwatsi had been sold and was no longer taking moorage so it wasn’t a surprise when we poked our head in that it had a big private, no moorage, sign. Steve-O still wanted to check it out to compare to his memories from 2012.
We stayed at Lagoon Cove and it turned out to be a great choice. There was a potluck happy hour at the gathering shed at the top of the dock with fresh, local-caught shrimp cocktail platter provided by Kelley & Dan, our awesome marina hosts!
Before heading back out on the water, we took a quick stroll through town to get some movement in. Found McNeill Landing – a neat food truck park with a view of the marina, an awesome painted fence near a garden pea patch, and an orca sculpture.
After our walk, we set out again. You’ll never guess… We saw whales on way to the Broughtons!
And more seals…
And passed local villages along the way and lots of wonderful scenery.
We stayed at Echo Bay, though it is no longer owned by Pierre. The staff were friendly; however, there were no activities – likely due to COVID and the ownership transition – and the marina was ready for some TLC.
We visited Billy Proctor’s museum, which was a wide-ranging collection of “junk” (Billy’s term, not ours!) from antiques to shells, oodles of soda and liquor bottles to hundreds of fishing lures, and random assortments of many other items. We briefly saw Billy for a quick hello but he had to rush off for a fisheries meeting.
We spent the morning walking around town and checking out the Quatse Loop trail that goes along the Quatse river. Tonia was excited to finally break in her new hiking shoes bought just for this trip!
The town has a nice park and a few sculptures commemorating their history. My favorite was the Carrot Campaign monument commemorating their efforts to get the country to quit dangling the carrot and actually build a road to North Vancouver Island.
The hike was a nice level trail. It was good for us to stretch a bit after being on the boat so much. We ended up logging over 6 miles so I’m sure we’ll feel it tomorrow.
While Matt and Steve ran errands, Tonia checked out the local town museum.
After lunch and Steve wrapping up his errands, we decided to move the boats south. The wind forecast is pretty much the same no matter the day this week, so we knew it was going to be a bit choppy. And it didn’t disappoint. Luckily the trip was only a couple hours, and the end was in the protected area.
We ended up the day in Port McNeill. After a nice diner we decided to check out Gus’ Pub. It was a decent place but with all COVID-era restaurants was a bit understaffed. We did have some nice banter with a couple driving up from Vancouver to their home Port Rupert.
After dinner we checked out the “World’s Largest Burl”! What’s that you ask? A big tree tumor.
We were up and at ‘em this morning. Got in the last run we’ll probably do for a couple weeks and then headed over to Coda for morning coffee. Do miss him being my neighbor because he makes a great cup.
We were off at 7:45 am and headed to the Canadian border. Put out the quarantine flag as we crossed the border and had a nice easy trip into the Port of Sydney. There was already a boat on the dock, so Coda took up the other space and we waited about 30 minutes to dock. While we waited, we did the final call in for the prep work and only had to wait a few minutes after we arrived for the custom officers. The experience was great. The officers were really friendly and easy to talk to. They asked the standard questions about our intent, experience, stuff to declare, and all the normal border crossing questions. One question I found funny is after we told them we didn’t have any firearms they asked how long it had been since firearms were on the vessel. We’ve never had any on the boat since we moved on because we live in the Pacific Northwest, which is pirate free.
As we were getting ready to be cleared, they had the final call with the clearance folks and at that point they pulled me aside and said there was an issue. Uh Oh! I was asked when the last time I came into Canada, if I was ever denied access to Canada, if I tried to cross the border during the pandemic, and if I had any issues with law enforcement. The answers were pretty much no for all, and they said they’d look into it later and it’s probably because my common name. I guess I may have to move to Alaska if they don’t let me come back in the fall. 😊
After the final questions we were cleared, put up the Canadian courtesy flag, and off north we go.
The remainder of the day was wonderful. Nice calm winds and calm seas. About an hour before the anchorage, we got a notification over the radio that a wind advisory was going into effect starting Sunday morning. We contemplated getting farther north so we could avoid it tomorrow but after 10 hours (customs time included), we called it a day and anchored in Northwest Bay just north of Nanaimo (photo at top of post).