Hanging out in Granville, a Bowen Island BBQ & getting into dire Straits!

17th – 25th August 2016

Hello friends!

After Brett and I returned to Ganges from Saturna Island we continued to work on Theros. Brett took a sledgehammer to the forward cabin, which used to be his man cave and ripped it apart so that we could rebuild it into our brand, new, bespoke master cabin…(more on that another time).

We needed to run over to Vancouver so that Brett could apply in person for his Grand Patrial Certificate, which will allow him to join me in the UK, while we divide our time between Canada, the UK and sailing around the world in stages. Also an added bonus would have been to be able to stay for longer periods in the South Pacific Islands in future  (well, I say ‘would have been’ because that would depend on whether the UK is still part of the EU, but after the Brexit vote, who knows what will happen on that score).

So why go to Van by car and ferry when you can sail right? We planned a round trip from Salt Spring to Pirate’s Cove, on to False Creek in Vancouver, round to Bowen Island and then up to Pender Harbour and back to Salt Spring. This way, we could catch up with friends, as well as get the business done.

Here be treasure …arrgghh!

So one, lovely sunny August afternoon, we set sail once more for Pirate’s Cove, on De Courcy Island and arrived to drop the hook just as the sun set over the yard arm (as they say) and the moon made her silvery appearance overhead.

We were up with the sunshine and dinghied to shore. No pirates had appeared during the night, so we deduced the coast was clear for a spot of onshore exploration. Ben Gunn would have loved this place, as he would have had no problem finding the treasure chest without a map and, therefore, wouldn’t have been marooned by his crewmates, like he was on Treasure Island. Unfortunately, the treasure chest, standing proudly next to the sign just above the landing stage, did not contain a heap of gold doubloons. Instead, a variety of toys and bits and bobs to amuse kids were inside. Initially I thought this was a good idea and then changed my mind. Why would kids need anything else, when they can play among nature like this and make up all sorts of fantasy scenarios like we used to do? (Oh dear, do I sound old?…no don’t answer that!). Perhaps the toys and stuff were for a rainy day.

Onward, Captain Clibbery and I strolled, following one of the trails. In blonde, bimbling style, I managed to walk right into a broken branch and scratched my leg from ankle to knee. Oozing blood, the cut looked worse than it was, but I continued to follow my husband as we weaved in and out of the forest and followed the shoreline.

Captain’s log star date 18th August 2016
Being First Mate is a balancing act!

We would have loved to have spent more time exploring the island but we were on a tight schedule to make Vancouver in time for Brett’s appointment, so we hauled anchor and set off, easing out, carefully around the reef and on our way.

Our destination for the day was Fishermen’s Wharf in False Creek, Granville Island in Vancouver, which meant crossing the Georgia Strait. The wind soon whipped up a tad, Theros responded with rock n roll under motor power and sail. I began to feel queasy. Not good. I gripped the stainless steel handrail hard to stop myself from falling over or sliding off the bench in the cockpit. Captain Clibbery was in his element by this time! “Aren’t you having fun yet? ” He called out to me with a gleeful glint in his eye. I gave him a withering look as I retorted, “Nope, not having fun, I’d rather stick pins in my eyes.” The rocking n rolling persisted for a good couple of hours and I gritted my teeth. Fortunately, I wasn’t sea sick. That would not have been a cool thing to do.

All of a sudden the engine died (again). Although we were within sight of land, having sailed into English Bay, Theros bobbed a few nautical miles away from False Creek and we could not enter the channel under sail alone. Quick thinking Clibbery dropped the hook just off Kitsiliano Beach and put together the temporary fuel tank we’d used before on our Princess Louisa Inlet trip. Phew! It’s handing having a Captain who knows how to knock up a fuel tank in these circumstances, for after about half an hour or so of bobbing about in front of the super speedy windsurfers and manic jet skiers, we were off again and Theros slipped gracefully into the channel and into her berth on Fishermen’s Wharf.

Hanging out on Granville Island

Granville Island, across from Fishermen’s wharf,  is not an island at all but a peninsular and district in Vancouver. Once an industrial  area, I guess a bit like the Isle of Dogs in London, and now a hipster hotpot of for tourism, entertainment, gourmet cafes and market and quirky shops. I was itching to explore but that would have to wait until the following day, after we had attended to business.

Some time after we settled in on the dock,  we decided to go for a walk back into town and searched out one of Brett’s favourite places to eat, an Italian restaurant off Denman street called Ciao Bella.

First things first though, Brett and I scrubbed up well in order to present ourselves for Brett’s visa appointment. (Boaters -take note, False Creek has excellent showers).

We hot footed it into town at early o’ clock and popped into the PHAT deli in the Royal Centre for a fast breakfast. Brett downed a full Phat breakfast, including Montreal smoked meat, whereas I, on the other hand, opted for the healthy yoghurt, granola and fruit. Feeling the urge to walk off some of those calories before the appointment, we took a leisurely amble in the hot sunshine along the waterfront. I watched the sea planes for a while and the magnificent sight took me back to my days as a humanitarian aid worker, in Tanzania and South Sudan, where the main mode of transport for us to get out to the field and back was by Cessna aircraft.


Anyway I digress a little, our personal business at the visa office was over and done with in a jiffy leaving us with the rest of the day to fill. We walked back to Theros, changed clothes and wandered up the road to check out some boat parts at two chandleries and noticed at least a $20 difference between them for the same products. Dodgy. Brett replaced the fuel filters in Theros’ engine during the afternoon. A late lunch/early dinner called us away from work. We grabbed a bite to eat at Go Fish! a takeout, fish n chip shack, at Fisherman’s Wharf that supports local fishermen and sustainable fishing. My one piece of halibut and chips went down a treat!

Dessert appeared later on when Brett and I sauntered around the creative and quirkier parts of Granville Island near the market and we happened upon an ice cream stand inside  Bridges restaurant. It’s really hard for either of us to walk past an ice cream place without tasting a scoop or two and I’m afraid this evening was no different! What a sweet way to end the evening…ha!

Back to Granville market for us in the morning, where we sampled breakfast at Edible Canada and then popped into The Hang Out Place to buy a couple of lightweight camping hammocks. These seem ideal for both hiking and sailing trips. Brett imagined putting one up on the spinnaker boom with me in it and swinging it out over the water …anyone would think the Captain is brewing up a mutiny. Aye aye, we’ll see how that works out!

The good ship Battersea and a Bowen Island BBQ

Captain Clibbery in the morning sun as we left Vancouver

After breakfast, it was time to sail away from Fishermen’s Wharf and sail onwards to Bowen Island. As we left False Creek and Vancouver behind, we passed by an enormous container ship, anchored in the mouth of the port, empty and imposing.  I peered through the binoculars and did a double take – it was named Battersea. Really? The good ship Battersea. Aah this brought back a flood of memories. What a coincidence. Before coming out to Canada to marry Brett, I had just sold my lovely little flat in Battersea, where I’d lived for ten years. I was very happy there. Brett and I used to spend lots of time walking around Battersea Park during the summer last year.

The good ship Battersea

Theros glided around into Howe Sound to Bowen Island, where we to caught up with Brett’s friends Val and Gerry, who live aboard their 50 ft yacht in Snug Cove. Val and Gerry are a fun-loving and fabulous couple, who’ve spent the last 30 years or so sailing around the world but were now planning to transition to land-based living. They had so many interesting stories to tell, I could have listened to them for house and hours.

Val encouraged me greatly when she mentioned that when they first set off to sail around the world, she pretty much learned to sail as they went along. She told me that I’d pick up all I would need to know on the water, which warmed my heart as I wasn’t feeling particularly proficient at sailing yet and wondered how I would get up to scratch for off shore sailing next year!

Later on, Val and Gerry’s friend Kelly, also a sailor, turned up to share a bottle of wine with us and a tipple turned into an impromptu bring and share BBQ on the dock, with Val and Gerry’s two cats , Jack and Stephen, circling our feet. And therein lies another coincidence. Jack and Stephen are named after two of my favourite literary characters – Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin from Patrick O’Brian’s nautical historical novels. I’ve read all 20 books and watched the film ‘Master and Commander’ about five times, based on about 3 of the stories. Our shared story telling over glasses of wine went well into the night under the stars. I love this life!

Were we hung over the next morning? I can’t really remember to tell you the truth. Nevertheless we tramped up the hill to the Snug cafe for a hearty breakfast and coffee  before we bade farewell to our friends and Theros gracefully slid out of Snug Cove and into the Georgia Strait once again.

Getting into dire Straits

A backward glance over my shoulder to the island revealed grey clouds closing in. The Georgia Strait was quickly turning into my nemesis. And who was Georgia anyway? She must have been a rum wench to have such choppy waters named after her, I thought to myself. I was so wrong! Apparently during a Spanish exploration of the waters, back in 1791, Francisco de Eliza gave the strait the name “Gran Canal de Nuestra Señora del Rosario la Marinera.“(Imagine having to give this location out over the radio today….). In 1792 the Strait was re-named after King George III by George Vancouver of Great Britain. For those of you, who are blissfully unaware, King George III became known as mad King George. Well, it all makes sense now…

A backward glance towards Bowen Island

A ‘Rainy night in Georgia’ by Randy Crawford, stuck in my head as the wind and waters soon whipped up into a frenzy and we sailed into a storm. Theros certainly held her own as we trimmed the sail and rock and rolled along in the lashing rain. However, her engine died 6 times on the way. Not again! Oh yes indeed. Once again Captain Clibbery put the temporary fuel tank together and we kept going. The storm seemed to go on forever, but it could only have lasted a half hour or so but that is a long time on the water! Thankfully, we sailed through the squall and the weather cleared. There’s something really uplifting about seeing sunlight sparkles bouncing off the surface of the sea.

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Sunshine sparkling magic!

We reached Pender Harbour just as our remaining fuel ran out. It was pitch black and hard to navigate into the harbour past the numerous anchored and moored boats, reefs and false lights resembling buoys. Brett called Tim on the radio and within minutes Tim and Dude put putted towards us in Tobago and led us safely into the dock at Pilothouse Marina. Phew! It was great to be back among the people of Pender Harbour, who welcomed us in with wine and hot chicken pie!

During the next couple of days the lads pumped Theros’ fuel tank. The problem was a perished rubber gasket from the inspection plate, which had disintegrated over the last five years since Brett bought Theros and fallen into the fuel tank. This caused the blockages in the main fuel pipe. Brett cleaned out the tank and put the inspection plate back with the proper seal around it. Meanwhile I caught up with the ladies, Isabelle, Laurie and Arabella, and did some laundry. We gave our old anchor chain to Tim and Isabelle, and in return Isabelle had altered a couple of our new cabin cushions for us, which we picked up before sailing away into the Malaspina Strait with a full tank and a happy, purring engine!

No more dire Straits on this occasion for we enjoyed fair winds and bright sunshine all the way through from Malaspina Strait, across the Georgia Strait and into the whirling Dodd’s Narrows towards Pirate’s Cove. The Cove was jam packed with stick boats and power boats, so instead, on such a calm day, Captain Clibbery decided to drop the hook on the other side of the island, where it was quiet, save for the sound of a group of male harbour seals slap slap slapping the water until sundown.

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Fair winds continued the following day for our return to our mooring in Ganges. We made it safe and sound!

Watch this space for more adventures coming soon….

Peace, love and light,

Sarah xxx


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