We left Sucia early, around 7AM, as we had to be off the dock long before the minus three tide began to take affect, and to try to time the currents a bit. Our plan was to head for Tumbo and Cabbage islands, as we liked Cabbage so much last fall and wanted to see it again and explore Tumbo. Just before reaching Patos, however, we watched a power boat come cruising out of the cove… hmm, we thinks, could there be an open ball? Sticking our nose into the cove, at all of 8:30AM, there was a free mooring ball, and our “day” of travel was over just like that.
Why the fixation on the mooring ball? Well, from everything we read in our various guidebooks, anchoring in Active Cove (aptly named, for sure, with both NW winds funneling into it and the fact that it’s not a cove at all but a narrow strait between Patos and Little Patos islands with strong currents) is strongly discouraged… along with the wind and currents, the holding on the bottom is poor, and if you do drag you have very little time before you’re on the rocks (most boats, or at least sailboats, can’t exit the eastern side of the cove). Patos has been a bit of a white whale for us… we have wanted to stop there multiple times but have never gotten the opportunity, as there are only two parks mooring balls (and we had been told recently that it was down to one, which turned out to be untrue). So, whenever we’re heading by Patos, we take a peak in Active Cove to see if there is a mooring ball available, but this was the first time we got lucky.
Once the surprise wore off at actually scoring a mooring ball at Patos in mid summer, and once we’d made sure we were good through the minus tide (we were on the deeper – western – mooring ball and it was 7-8′ deep at a -3′ tide), we went ashore to explore, and what a great time we had. Our first lucky break was running into a volunteer docent who took us out to the lighthouse and showed us around the inside; apparently they try their best to have someone there to open up the lighthouse on weekends during high season. We had a fun tour and bought a copy of Once Upon an Island about a couple that settles on Wallace Island in the Gulf Islands in the ’40s… it’s a book we’d wanted to read for a while but much more fun to buy at the Patos lighthouse then just clicking on Amazon. After the tour, we spent a few lazy hours out by the point watching the giant ships in the Boundary Pass and the Strait of Georgia, and watching the currents off the edge of the island turn into true rippers… looks like a whitewater rapid to me!
Strong Tidal Flows (17secs):
(Use arrows in lower right corner to go full screen if you want)
Evening brought the downside of a Patos experience… two smaller boats with very minimal ground tackle trying to raft up at anchor. Multiple (loud) attempts ended in dragging anchors, trying to reset kelp covered anchors, and general mayhem in the tight anchorage. We spent probably 2 hours on deck just keeping an eye on the proceedings and watching out for ourselves and our boat. Fortunately, just before sunset the boat behind us dropped the other mooring and headed out, leaving an open mooring for the rafted folks and keeping them out of our hair.
An extremely pleasant evening ended with dinner, a quick walk on shore for the Hobie hound dog, and a beautiful sunset from the cockpit. The next morning the tug anchored behind us even told us they’d gotten sunset pictures of Boundary, and true to their word they were in my in box no more than an hour after we dropped our mooring ball and headed for Roche for some showers and a small resupply.