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October 2004
Lin and Richard Blag on the fore deck of Marie Rose

Dear Friends,

What a wonderful playground for the folks of Vancouver and Seattle. Long twisting fiords that run for miles, literally thousands of islands, pristine feeling mountain lakes only five or ten minutes walk from safe anchorages, Jervis Inlets, Desolation Sounds and the islands to the northwest of them could take a life time to explore. In fact, we met several dozen folks who have done just that, coming back every year to re-visit favorite anchorages and discover new ones.

Tony Latimer - in dark shirt with guitar - built 50 foot Forbes and Cameron

We arrived in Desolation sound at the height of the season, during one of the driest, warmest summers in memory. That meant favorite anchorages were, by local standards, crowded. What this means to the rest of us is that where, during June or May, you might find one or two boats, in the height of summer there were often twenty. We were not looking for complete solitude and in fact really enjoyed seeing several youngsters sailing dinghies around the rocks of Tenedos Inlet, or chatting to other cruisers as we rowed Cheeky past an international array of anchored yachts on our way to the boat house bakery at the edge of Cortez Harbor, or laughing with half a dozen sailors as we swam in the cool clear waters of Unwin lake to break the heat of the summer days.

That is Marie Rose with the Spinnaker in the background.

We rendezvoused with the Bushnell fleet, Winston and Carol on their 35-foot Dove IV, and Kim with her two youngsters on 28-foot Puna. Winston built the hulls for both of these boats with Kim assisting on her own. The Bushnells are originally from the Toronto area and back in the 80's set off down the Mississippi with two young daughters, Kim and Leslie on a 31-foot ferro-cement cutter they built in their back yard. During a 7-year circumnavigation the girls grew up and one returned home from South Africa to finish school, the other Kim, married a single-handed sailor and set off with him. The Bushnells said the boat felt empty without children aboard and purposely set to work creating new crew - having a son in Cape Town South Africa. Steve sailed with them for the last four years of their voyage back to Canada where they settled 30 miles south of Nanaimo. Since then Winston and Carol have built three more boats for themselves and sailed to all parts of the Pacific. So as you can imagine, we have a lot to talk about when ever we rendezvous, and there was something very special about doing it while we are at anchor in a lovely quiet cove.


Because it was a festival and almost like a big party - Larry invited five extra people to sail with us. Meant for a bit of extra confusion but grand singing when we got back to anchor.

There are some down sides to cruising in the sounds - the winds are often light and fickle, there are some mosquitoes and grizzly bears ashore meant taking care on any walks in the woods. There is very little sea life or birdlife in this area. Might be the reason Captain Vancouver named it Desolation Sound. Seems the convergence of currents, the very warm water (compared to 40 miles south or north) create a climate that is not conducive to crabs or many species of fish. There is almost no original growth left in the Sounds, as all of this area was owned by logging companies so you will not find any original growth to admire. Also, the steep tree covered nature of this area means there are few landing places and even fewer protected anchorages unless you are willing to anchor in 150 feet of water with dicey holding ground. Glad we saw it, but in fact we really preferred the Gulf Islands, and the small towns south of the sounds, where we met old friends and new. Guess we have had the privilege of spending lots of time in quiet isolated places and prefer getting to know Canada and its people. But, we are in the definite minority as the majority of people we meet up here feel this area is the finest cruising in the world.

If you sail up to this area, plan a stop at Pender Harbour and go for a meal at the Garden Bay pub. Gourmet food in a beautiful setting at reasonable prices. Take some time to get to know Gibson's Landing along the way.


That is the city of Vancouver behind us, in fact Larry worked in one of those buildings when he was 21 years old. So this visit is a lot like homecoming for him.

The month of August had a special ending for us, we sailed into False Creek, right in the center of the city of Vancouver to take part in the Vancouver Wooden Boat Festival. Grand shanty music, lots of interesting boats, all secured next to a wonderful farmers market and excellent craftsmen's shops. Larry got in touch with several of his old high school buddies and I met several more of the girls he used to date and came to know even more about the mischief he got up to as a youngster. Then during the middle of the festival one of his oldest sailing buddies, Richard Blagbourne, came to lie alongside us in the boat Larry's father built for his retirement. Marie Rose is a wooden 28 footer designed by Stan Huntingford. Unfortunately it is exceptionally fast in very, very light breezes, and we had to put up with a lot of teasing when Richard finished just ahead of us in the 6 mile long regatta that ended the festival. At the prize giving that evening we found out we had beat him on handicap to win the Spruce Cup. Seemed fair to us as we have all our belongings on board Taleisin and Marie Rose is used only for local cruising. But we accepted when Richard challenged us to a re-match which he scheduled at the island he lives on, so we agreed to sail from Vancouver to the Saturna Island Regatta at the close of the festivities. With so many potential destinations to choose from in these islands, it was fun to have our route planned by old friends.

As you can see, there was some serious rivalry between Richard, Larry and I as the wooden boat festival coordinator, Jan Bellamy presented us the cup for first on handicap.

Hope your summer has held some great sailing,

Lin and Larry

Pat Thomson and Tony Latimer are grand shanty singers. Here were at anchor in a raft-up after the regatta.



POSTCARDS FROM VANCOUVER, BC









Watercolor postcards by Phil Jones
N.W. Marine Watercolors
philjonesgallery.com
(206) 715-6705





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