AROUND THE ISLAND
SIX FRIENDS EMBARK ON AN EPIC 800-MILE JOURNEY
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,