We left Friday Harbor on Wednesday, Sept 3 and headed to Stuart Island, Reid Harbor. The wind was light and we motored with the current, arriving in about 3.5 hours. The harbor was a fairly deep inlet and after we set the anchor I realized that the scene was pretty close to what I had envisioned when we talked about coming to these islands. It was tranquil and beautiful. There is reported to be a great hike on the island, but we planned to leave the next morning so we just relaxed. It was wonderful and the stars were amazing.
We left mid morning on Thursday and had a great sail, again going with the current, so we made good progress. When we crossed the border we raised a small Canadian flag, known as a courtesy flag. This is a custom among boaters as well as a maritime rule. As we grew nearer to Port Sidney, we decided instead to go to Tsehum (“see-um”) Harbour, which, like Sidney, is a Canadian port of entry. We pulled into Van Isle marina at about 2 pm – the weather was fantastic! Nice and sunny and very warm.
We had called ahead to the marina and were instructed to tie up at the customs dock, which was at the end of the fuel dock. As we pulled in, a young lady in a blue uniform was there to help us tie the lines. I assumed she was a Customs agent, but she was a marina employee just being helpful. On the dock there was a payphone with an 888 number for customs. I called in, answered a few simple questions, and that was it! The process was much simpler than we expected.
We decided to stay the night at Van Isle Marina and it was a first rate place. The marina was full of very expensive yachts, and walking the docks was impressive. We sent some time cleaning up the boat as we have been away from a marina for about 10 days.
Friday morning we left Tsehum Harbour and headed to Brentwood Bay. We came here to attend a rendezvous for Sceptre sailboats. The event was held at the home of one of the owners, and Brentwood Bay is a really great place. At the end of the bay is Butchart Gardens, one of the world’s top botanical gardens.
The party started Friday evening with a happy hour gathering. Right away Ralph and I felt at home and comfortable with our new friends. Saturday morning I went to the Butchart Gardens with one of my new friends and Ralph attended a gam session (gam – A social visit or friendly interchange, especially between seafarers). The gardens were fantastic and Ralph enjoyed his time swapping stories. Saturday afternoon we played a couple of games – one was a dinghy race where one person had to hold an egg in a spoon while the other navigated a course and we were timed. The other was a sort of scavenger hunt where we went around the bay on a dinghy with our team and found clues. Both games were really fun and Ralph and I actually won the egg race! Also, not to brag too much, but my team won the scavenger hunt too! Beginners luck, I think. 🙂
Last night we had a lovely dinner and visit and this morning we are meeting up for breakfast before we all go our separate ways. Ralph and I are so glad that we attended this function – we found a bunch of kindred spirits here,a wealth of information about our boat, and some exciting invitations to visit our new friends – most of whom are Canadians. So far our impression of Canada could not be more positive.
Here is a little video footage we took the other day: http://youtu.be/aUe22h6q2r4