Sail around Cortes

The small entrance into Gorge Harbor.

The small entrance into Gorge Harbor.

Calliste is going to be at Cortes Bay for this whole summer, and we thought circumnavigating the whole Island would be a good way to getting to know it better.

20th July 1000hrs, leaving the McQueen’s dock. We have full water tanks and all provisioned up with fresh meats and vegs from Campbell River with the car. Me thinks this would be a 4 days trip.

Fat ducks doing a gig at our stern... it wants food. :)

Fat ducks doing a gig at our stern… it wants food. ūüôā

1200hrs, swing by the Manson’s Landing public dock. We’ve been on the dock by car and just wanna get a feel about it on the water. It is good that there quite a few public docks on Cortes. Its cheap for long stays, but subject to side tie ups, so we don’t think we’ll ever use one. But its good for loading/unloading, 1st hour free. So who knows…. maybe someday we will need¬†do a quick tie up and go.

Gorge Harbor marina at 8pm in summer. Live band performing in beautiful setting.

Gorge Harbor marina at 8pm in summer. Live band performing in beautiful setting.

1300hrs, entering the Gorge into the Gorge Harbor. Its early and days are long in summer ūüôā , so we do a turn around the Harbor. Its pretty big and sometimes gusty windy, but the waters remain¬†flat.

1500hrs, anchored west of Gorge Harbor marina, amongst the visiting boats. Time for a catnap.

Calliste is among the travelling troupe at Gorge Harbor.

Calliste is among the travelling troupe at Gorge Harbor.

17oohrs,¬†launch kayaks. Paddle to the dinghy dock and check¬†out the marina… nope, we cant afford the marina fees and thankfully the dinghy dock is free.¬†There is the famously expensive restaurant, good laundry and showers, a¬†relatively well stocked store, and beautiful landscaped lawns are well maintained.¬†It sure¬†is nice that rich yachties pay a steep berthing fee to cover the marina’s maintenance, so that¬†the average yachties like us can enjoy the facilities too. We sat at the lawn and watch a live singing band… we¬†don’t expect much from free entertainment :p

A whole oyster bed 1ft under me.

A whole oyster bed 1ft under me.

2100hrs, return to Calliste just before sunset. Isnt it nice to have long days and great weather ūüôā

21th Jul 1000hrs, the sun been out for a long time, and we were just lazing around, being comfy inside the cabin… but I have to go check out the oyster beds and marine aquaculture that is going on in the harbor… I have hopes that I will be able to buy some oysters or clams from one of these.

Small oysters with little limpets stuck on it. And some barnacles.

Small oysters with little limpets stuck on it. And some barnacles.

1200hrs, we paddled a long ways to the other side of the harbor. The sun is really hot and beating down on us, the occasional gust pushed us around, but its not turning me away from my objective. Finally I did get to talk to the guys harvesting mussels. But nope, all the shellfish goes to the processing plant in Campbell River, nothing is for sale here…. so nice of them to just give me 2 for samples.

Steamed open oysters.

Steamed open oysters.

1400hrs, time¬†for lunch on board. Doug is not¬†into shellfish, so I get them both to myself.¬†We don’t carry oyster knives and not sure what to do with¬†it. So¬†I just steam it in pressure cooker and let it open itself.¬†Fried up¬†garlic and Italian herbs in butter, add lots of lime juice. Cut out and cut into small pieces and stir into the fried marinate. Serve on Ritz biscuits with Pepperjack cheese. Taste wonderful ūüôā . I say so myself.

Oysters and biscuits lunch.

Oysters and biscuits lunch.

22th Jul 0800hrs, up anchor. Underway, bound Von Donop inlet. This is timing sensitive, we need to be going in at high slack at 1130hrs. There is a rock in the middle at the narrowest point in the long inlet that we have to watch for. Wagoner wrote up a good detail about going past it. Pretty sure we could make it with no difficulty.

1115hrs, entering the inlet right on time. We have a current carrying us in, so that is nice too. 1130hrs, nearing the underwater rock, sticking Calliste close to the trees on the right. 1200hrs, anchored in the last bay. Beautiful and very calm. Hardly a breeze. Feels almost like Annette inlet, but bigger.

Looking out from the last bay in Von Donop

Looking out from the last bay in Von Donop

1500hrs, Doug launch his kayak, off to walk the trail to Squirrel Cove. I am not keen on thick undergrowth forest trails…. Spend my aft drawing, reading and lazing in this beautiful place ūüôā … Its a long walk and Doug didn’t make it all the way.

23th Jul 1130hrs, up anchor and bound Squirrel Cove. Listening in on the VHF channel 16 for entertainment. Some funny calls, “Still looking, Still looking, Still looking…. Solutions.”. 1300hrs, pass a eye catching sailing boat. Check the laundry and tow. They sure are comfy cruising downwind in summer.

1400hrs, went into the Refuge Cove bay in West Redonda Island, just checking it out. Its busy, lots of boats going in and going out. There’s a general store and public dock and private marina all together. Doug didn’t like the look of things, I don’t think we’ll come here again. Next, Squirrel Cove on Cortes. Its just across the Lewis Channel, less than 3 miles away.

Cruising family. Going downwind with laundry on the lifelines and 2 kayaks in tow.

Cruising family. Going downwind with laundry on the lifelines and 2 kayaks in tow.

1500hrs, winds up, so are waves. No room on the public dock for us and Doug refuse to hang around waiting for someone to leave. So we go deep into the cove and anchored with the rest of the travelling troupe.

1600hrs, being out of contact for 4 days already, I am so eager¬†to check emails that we launch kayaks and paddle out. Inside the cove, its pretty protected, but we didn’t try paddling out thru the narrow entry as it is blowing 20kns and choppy. Tied up to the Indian dock … someone told us they wont mind… Walk/Climb steep hills on the trail to the Squirrel Cove general store. I enjoyed the walk, dirt road¬†going into asphalt… altho strenuous. Almost 2 miles, with Doug its 1hr.

At Squirrel cove, I tried… there the¬†wifi…, but¬†is password protected… Drats! And I came this far!

1730hrs, ate the slow food at Flying Squirrel Takeout. Real meaty burger for me. Taste great! but I don’t look forward to getting another anytime soon. Its just too much hassle.

2000hrs, made it back to Calliste. We both completely pooped.

24th Jul 1100hrs, I am bored with being in nice surrounding with no internet… Nudge Doug to take us back… despite the winds and building seas, he did, figuring out that it was just 8 miles of slop. It was hard going thru the surf at the entrance to Squirrel Cove, we were doing just over 2kns on average. It got better outside, a little less choppy and Cortes island provided some protection from the southwest winds. And there were other sailboats just out there enjoying the great downwind sailing…

1500hrs, turning west at Mary point, just 1.5 mile from Cortes Bay. Exposed and head on into the full 30kns southwest blow. Sloppy it is.

1700hrs, entered the protection of Cortes Bay at last. Still windy, we can hear it and see the¬†white waves crashing on the rocks at the opening,¬†but lucky us not much waves¬†inside the bay. Tie up to the McQueens dock again…. and YES! Back online. Just for a bit, and then it got cut off… Power is out… must be something to do with the winds. Time to rest.




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Sailing 2015: Port Townsend(WA, US) -> Costes Island (BC, Canada)

Sailing 2013: Singapore -> Okinawa -> Kobe

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