SAIL - - Features - Story and pho­tos by Bas Suck­ling

When cir­cum­nav­i­gat­ing Vancouver Is­land, surf­ing, whale en­coun­ters and end­less wilder­ness are all part of the fun

Acir­cum­nav­i­ga­tion of Vancouver Is­land? That sounded like a great idea, so af­ter a few months of plan­ning, my friends Brid­get, Jel­ski, Jonty and I quit our jobs in Auck­land, New Zealand, and flew to Canada, where we joined Harry Miller and Sarah White aboard their 1983 Cana­dian Sail­craft 36, Ma­maku. We were fired up about the 800-mile voy­age and ready for some ad­ven­ture.

The first day out from Oak Bay marina in Vic­to­ria, Bri­tish Columbia, saw us cov­er­ing a lot of ocean, fly­ing through the beau­ti­ful Gulf Is­lands on a mighty spin­naker run. The day was also a great op­por­tu­nity for us to get used to each other and the boat. To that end, the sleep­ing quar­ters in the quar­ter­berth were im­proved sig­nif­i­cantly with the re­moval of a pro­trud­ing fire ex­tin­guisher bracket. We also quickly fig­ured out the op­ti­mum sleep­ing ar­range­ment in­volved at least one cou­ple camp­ing out on the clos­est avail­able beach.

Af­ter en­joy­ing the beau­ti­ful an­chor­ages at Pen­der, Ruxton and Savary is­lands, we made our way up through Deso­la­tion Sound. Here we stopped at the ma­jes­tic an­chor­age of Teak­erne Arm on West Re­donda Is­land, where a large wa­ter­fall thun­ders down into the in­let, fed by nearby Cas­sell Lake. Be­cause the wa­ter is very deep close to shore, we had to tie up stern-to us­ing a rusty shackle bolted into the rock, left be­hind by log­gers gen­er­a­tions ago.

While at Teak­erne Arm we were joined by Sarah’s fa­ther, Chris, and her Un­cle Don in their boat Clair de Lune, af­ter which we all spent a few days to­gether ex­plor­ing. We also made the most of swim­ming with­out wet­suits af­ter dis­cov­er­ing that the wa­ter in this part of the in­side pas­sage was a warm 72 de­grees, com­pared to the 50 de­gree wa­ter ev­ery­where else. Through­out, Don re­galed us with var­i­ous salty tales, re­mind­ing us to take our night watches se­ri­ously af­ter an in­ci­dent he ex­pe­ri­enced in the 1970s that left him with­out a mast in the mid­dle of the Pa­cific Ocean.

Af­ter that, our next spot was Cortes Is­land, fa­mous in this part of the world for its oys­ters. For­tu­nately for us, there were no blooms of PSP (par­a­lytic shell­fish poi­son­ing) caus­ing al­gae, and we ate more oys­ters than I would have thought pos­si­ble. It was here we also had our first close whale en­counter. Mul­ti­ple pods of hump­backs were cruis­ing up and down the chan­nel, and we took the dinghy out for a closer look. That night we fell asleep to the sound of them lazily feed­ing.

Af­ter ex­plor­ing a num­ber of long-aban­doned log­ging camps and com­man­deer­ing a ca­noe for a pad­dle up Robert­son Lake, it was time to head north to­ward the Broughton Ar­chi­pel­ago. As we were set­ting off,

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