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Gulf Islands Flotilla Cruise Diary

The latest Colgate Sailing Adventures Flotilla Cruise took place in the beautiful Gulf Islands of British Columbia. Heather and Nate Atwater, Offshore Sailing School’s cruise leaders, enjoyed the company of 11 sailors on this unique flotilla cruise adventure. Heather reported, “The days were filled with nice sails hopping from Island to Island, and the afternoons were spent exploring the towns and rocky coast of the interesting Islands we visited.” Here is the rest of Heather’s story.

A Relaxing Cruise in the Gulf Islands of British Columbia

We had a great cruise in the Gulf Islands! The weather was cooperative with sunny and warm days, good breeze and we sailed everyday!  It was a relaxing pace but there was plenty to do, too, if you wanted to. The Canadians were a welcoming and gracious host country, and we very much enjoyed their hospitality!  Our group got along really well and we had a good time all together – from the Meet and Greet at the Distillery/Haro’s in Sidney, to the Final Dinner at the Poets Cove Resort on South Pender Island, with lots of fun in between.

Our Flotilla Crew in the 2nd Picture to the Right
Bottom left to right: Ed Lane, Heather and Nate, Melanie and Al MacDonald, Tim and Victoria Kane, Chelly and Joel Larson. Top left to right: Stephanie Giegerich with mascot Sidney, Kelly Kalleen with mascot Caribou, Craig Davis, and Andrea Berndt.

Friday, July 14: At 4 p.m. we all met up for the first time and exchanged greetings, then loaded our gear onto three yachts – Clara Eve a Jeanneau 394, Upendo a Jeanneau 40 (means Love in Swahili), and Rio Dorado a Beneteau 40.  At the same time we stowed away provisions, which had arrived from Thrifty’s. Larry from Island Cruising gave us the tour of the yachts, going over their particulars with each of us.

At 7 p.m. we set off to the Distillery next door to do a tasting of their brews. It was a great way to learn more about each other as we took turns introducing ourselves and our sailing background.  Afterwards we proceeded to Haro’s where we enjoyed a delicious meal. It was a very nice evening. Since many had had a long day of travel, we retired to the boats to get some shut and eye, ready for our first day of sail.

Saturday, July 15:  We left Port Sidney Marina at around 10:45 a.m. Winds were southeast 7-12 knots. We had a beautiful sail out of the bay threading our way between Forest Island and Dock Island, north toward Moresby Island then across Boundary Passage, ending up in a lovely anchorage in Port Browning on North Pender Island.

Our boat invited all the crews to have cocktails aboard the Clara Eve – a lively evening with Dark and Stormy’s and tasty appetizers. Our Canadian contingency gave each of our boats some Canadian “Smarties” for dessert, which were good luck!  Thanks Al. Also there was much ado about our Mascots: Sidney, Caribou and Rio – furry Muppet-like puppets that Kelly Kalleen kindly bought for each boat to be our Mascots, and lots of fun ensued from their presence. After cocktails we had dinner aboard; grilled chicken, roasted garlic potatoes, and sauteed broccoli.

Sunday July 16:  Coffee, bacon and eggs awoke our souls. At 9:30 a.m. the Skippers and Navigators met to go over today’s sail. At 10 a.m. we pulled anchor from Port Browning and sailed downwind, gybing back and forth the whole way through Navy Passage. We enjoyed gorgeous scenery, houses perched high on unlikely precipices, while staying clear of regular ferry passages.

In lighter air, 5-8 knots, we had a relaxed meandering sail past lighted rocks, beautiful homes and craggy harbors to Montague Harbor. Here we picked up moorings and dinghied ashore to check out the area. Some took the magical, musical bus ride to the Hummingbird Restaurant. I heard it was all about the bus. Aboard Clara Eve we prepared grilled halibut, zucchini and rice pilaf. Yum.

Monday July 17: Nate did the navigation meetings, while Al and I refilled water bottles at the scenic Marine Park. We left the mooring at 9:15 a.m. with winds from the north, and sailed towards Ganges Harbor. It was a lively sail across the bay, then heading southwest through Captains Passage, making 7 knots OG. Got to Ganges Harbor around 11 a.m., anchored and went ashore to the bustling town. There were lots of art galleries, local craft stores and other nice shops. We wandered about enjoying an iced coffee and visiting the Tree House Café before heading back to the boat for showers and dinner at 6 p.m. at the Oyster Catcher Restaurant. Our young waiter took good care of us and we enjoyed a good dinner, with lots of local seafood to choose from.  It was a nice group dinner and we had a musician near by to boot.

Tuesday July 18: Early start to refill our water tanks at the town dock, then left the harbor around 8 a.m. along side seaplanes taking off.  No breeze at first as we said goodbye to Ganges and sailed off to Telegraph Harbor. Some of us did a Yoga stretch on the deck while powering out. Sails up and a short sail to Thetis Island Marina, arriving around 1 p.m. where we took a moorage, which in Canada meant a dock.  With the moorage we got showers, a pub, a liquor store and a post office!  So some of us caught up on our letter writing while others hiked across the Island to Preedy Harbor where ferries dock. It was reported to be a beautiful hike. We all settled into a relaxing afternoon. This is where we took our group photo. Some ate dinner ashore at the pub, we grilled our steaks and ate with more garlic potatoes and salad. Next to us at the dock a gentleman played ukulele, very pleasant.

Wednesday July 19: Navigation meeting aboard Upendo then left the dock at 10:15 a.m., late because we were blocked in (I told you so).  En route to Maple Bay winds were southwest 8-10 knots. We sailed for a bit then the wind died, then picked back up again for a brisk sail into Maple Bay. On a whim I radioed into Maple Bay Yacht Club and due to our affiliations with a few yacht clubs back home we were able to secure moorage (dock space). Maple Bay Yacht Club rolled out the red carpet for us and could not have been more welcoming, inviting us to join the club in a dinner and a movie (Casablanca) and kept referring to us as the group from New York. Since we had come all that way, they went out of their way to make us feel at home and very welcome. They even gave each of us a pin with their yacht club burgee on it.

Thursday July 20: We were sad to leave Maple Bay Yacht Club as we made our way through the Samsum Passage ( a narrow passage with high cliffs, deep water and swirling tides). On the other side we set sail and had a good sail to our destination of Tod Inlet. Once our anchors were secure we all went ashore by dinghy to Butchart Gardens. It was really quite something. The crowds were there because it was peak season but the gardens were quite magnificent. I don’t think I have ever seen so many annuals in full bloom at once. Some ate at the gardens others back aboard. There was also an evening concert which some went back to hear, and also to experience the night lighting of the gardens, which was a beautiful sight.

Friday July 21: Navigation meeting aboard at 8:30 a.m., then picked up anchor at 9:10 a.m. Powered up Stannich Inlet, then winds picked up and we set sail tacking through Satellite Channel, north of Portland and Moresby Island, and into Bedwell Harbor and Poets Cove Marine. After refueling all three yachts we pulled into our slips and proceeded to the hot tub and pool at the resort. I heard some hooting and hollering, and most all enjoyed the amenities. We gathered again for a final dinner and birthday celebration for Chelly at the Syren’s Restaurant at Poets Cove Resort.  It was a good meal and a fitting end to our time together.

Saturday July 22: We had a very early start back to Port Sidney Marina before the 10 a.m. boat check out. Good byes all around and a big thank you to all the crew on the Gulf Island Flotilla for being great sports.

We hope you enjoyed the 2017 Gulf Islands flotilla cruise diary. Check our website or give us a call to sign up for 2018 flotilla cruises!

Doris Colgate