Five day mini-cruise

So it was just a long weekend here, and  I decided to take the opportunity to take off an extra two days, turning it into a 5 day weekend!

And, I can’t remember if I mentioned this but I plan to sail round Vancouver Island this August. This isn’t a small undertaking, especially for someone with as little as experience as me, so I am taking a buddy, the always-willing Emma. Long story short, this would be an ideal test trip to do the following

  • See how the newly installed solar-power held up under our power consumption
  • Practice stern-tying, as it’s very common around here and I hadn’t done it before
  • Most importantly, make sure Emma and I can spend 5 days on a boat without murdering each other.

The trip got off to a good start with us being able to sail all the way out of the harbour basically, and emma taking The Best Photo Of Me Ever (which was immediately plastered all over my facebook before she could finish saying ‘that’s a nice photo’)


Thanks Emma!


Once we got to Cadboro Bay we were greeted by the sail training ships from SALTsPacific Swift and the Pacific Grace


Tall ships are pretty.

The next morning we attempted to sail away in 3 knots of wind, slowly tacking from side to side. After an hour, we’d just made it out the bay so were forced to turn on the engine in order to get to the next anchorage by next week.

Now, the next anchorage was Royal Cover at Portland Island, a place I’d been meaning to go for some time. It’s a pretty little cove that is small, so you need to stern tie. This involves setting an anchor towards the center of the bay, and then backing up until your stern is close to the shore and then running a line to it. Not too complicated in THEORY, but in practice, a lot can go wrong. Also I’m still not super keen on backing towards some close rocks! A funny story of how it can go wrong is here

Backing up and watching the shore get closer is definitely scary. Emma volunteered to row ashore with the line while I tried to hold the stern in position and stop it wiggling everywhere

We originally had to tie two lines together to get back to the boat as it had drifted, but once we straightened out could get away with just one. Fortunately, as the two lines were tied together with a ‘Slippedy-Do-Da’ knot, which I am sure Emma made up and looked like a giant hairball.

Once we got all sorted out, it was rather nice.


And the solar panels worked a treat – generating power for ‘free’ is really awesome.


Portland is a park, with some trails so we went for a wander around to get off the boat



Lovely area. And a pretty nice sunset! (Of note – look how ugly the porta-bote is in the above shot. A stallion it ain’t)


The next day we nipped off fairly early and went off to Saltspring Island. On approach down the long channel we FINALLY flew the spinnaker the correct way around….


…. and discovered it’s really way too small for the boat. Oh well. I’ll Add It To The List.

It was going great until we noticed a LOT of sails ahead…


I’d forgotten it was the Round-Saltspring-Race, so there were over 100 sailboats in it! As they all started to head towards us, I hurriedly furled the spinnaker and switched the motor on and started dodging.


It was like that old PC game frogger, except the cars are shithot racing sailors who go faster under sail than we did under engine.

Eventually, we made it into the channel beside Ganges Harbour. While there we decided to row over for toilet paper, and on the way back to the boat (the row is over a mile) the wind picked up and we had 15 knots against us for most of the way. Emma rowed like a champ while I said encouraging things and we eventually got back. After that, we stuck on the outboard (first time doing it from the boat) using a halyard and lots of swearing. But once it was on, we were zipping around. So much fun!

We stayed there two nights and on the second night our friends Nancy and Matt came for a visit, and we cooked steaks and caught seriously the largest Dungeness crab I’ve ever seen! AND it was a male, so a keeper! To top it off, the sunset was a lovely one


However, during the first night we noticed the wind had changed and we were a mere 50 feet or so to the nearest boat. Now, I’m not sure that WE dragged, but I think that he had an all chain rode, and when we originally dropped our anchor I presumed he was at the edge of his swing, when in fact he was sat right over his anchor. Upshot being, I dropped closer than I would have done. Added to the fact we have a combo chain/line rode and so moved a lot more than he did and you have us getting close. It probably would have been fine, but better safe than sorry right? We pulled up anchor and redropped further away, an operation that went really well. Teamwork!

On to the Monday, and it was time to head out and back South.

There was a good wind so we sail most of the way, tacking back and forth. There was another boat going the same direction as us, so of course it turned into a race! We were gaining on him, messed up two tacks in a row (well, I say ‘we’, both mistakes were my fault, including the tablet almost falling in the water) so dropped back a bit, and then caught up again at the end


Exciting stuff!

We spent the night at Sidney Spit, and then the next morning flew home on a strong ebb, making 8 to 11 knots.

Some things to take away

  • Emma and I make a great team. Also we didn’t kill each other. This will be important
  • I need to bring more books
  • Stern tying is not as hard as you think at first, but I need to set the anchor further out to allow more scope
  • I NEED TO RIG A SHOWER. 5 days was enough for me. Grubby is how I’d describe both of us
  • Those solar panels should be able to last us around the island
  • I can’t wait for August!


Here is the trip map





  1. We love Portland Island. When we were there we anchored in the largish area north of the stern tie area (~50′ depth) – didn’t bother stern tieing because it looked crowded.

    The Porta-bote doesn’t look ugly! We get a lot of comments that it’s cute / neat, and we added her name to it for about $50 in nice looking decals.

    Are you sure your spinnaker is a symmetrical one? It looks kind of like an asym (asymmetrical spinnaker) to me. Or perhaps it’s a gennaker, which is in between a genoa and a spinnaker.

    • Yah it’s a lovely spot!

      I’m pretty sure its a sym – it looks symmetrical… just undersized. I’m sure it’s not a gennaker – it’s got no hanks on it.

Leave a Reply