Sucia & Montague – old favorites

After a couple of boat tweaks it was time to get out into the islands and enjoy ourselves. Our first few stops were places we’d been before and enjoyed, so we’ll just summarize our stops this time.

Our departure from Bellingham was delayed by some thick fog and waiting on a last minute bottom cleaning (when we arrived we found quite a bit more growth than we expected – probably time for a bottom job – but Mike at Top to Bottom fit us in on short notice and cleaned the hull). First stop, as it often seems to be, was Sucia Island for a few days of decompressing… due to late departure, the dock was full when we arrived right at 5PM, but conveniently the day use loading area (which you can stay on after 5PM and before 9AM) was open so we tied up there for the first night, figuring on moving in the morning. As luck would have it, just when we were coming off the loading zone the next morning another sailboat was leaving their spot, so we had a secure dock spot for another two nights.

Three total nights on Sucia, very pleasant as always. Mornings were quite foggy making for some cool scenery, and hiding the large bulk of the cruise ship that anchored off Fossil Bay the first morning and shuttled their guests in to play on the island. Between that ship and a smaller cruise ship in Echo Bay the island was a little busy for a while, but we still found plenty of space to hang out just the three of us. One stroll over to Shallow Bay was a truly pleasant afternoon in the sun reading and relaxing, and we even saw another Gulf 32 leaving the anchorage, although did not get to chat with them.

Shallow Bay (30 secs):

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Otters playing in Shallow Bay (42 secs):

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After three at Sucia it was time to get up into the Gulf Islands and keep moving north. Under some rainy, cloudy skies we had good wind to sail most of the way from Sucia to Port Browning Marina on North Pender Island, using our Nexus cards and cell phone call in to transit into Canada with ease. Port Browning was fine, although the docks are quite old (but apparently being renovated this winter) and, more importantly for us, there’s no water on the docks so we couldn’t fill our tanks. The water had already been turned off at Sucia when we were there, so we’d been hoping to fill up, but we’re now finding that most of the Gulf Islands don’t have enough water available to let transient boaters fill their tanks (all the marinas in Ganges, as well as the one in Montague, also had no water available… we didn’t check on Poet’s Cove on South Pender but that’s about your only other option)… in the future we will have to plan on filling our water tanks either in the US or on Vancouver Island proper.

Sailing to Port Browning, North Pender Island (45 secs):

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After a night at Port Browning we spent two nights at Montague Harbor, on the dock at the state park, one of our favorite spots. Great walking (other than one menace of an off leash dog that another sailing family refused to control), beautiful quiet harbor and a comfy dock. Surprisingly, the water in the campground here had neither run out nor been turned off for the season, so we hauled 20 gallons by hand from the spigot and poured it into our tanks to try to extend our range as we were still a few days from a marina with a spigot. Fortunately we’re used to traveling with 25 gallons of water at a time in the Sportsmobile, so we can make our ~70 gallons on Boundary last a long time.

We also continued our luck with talking to people on the dock and getting recommendations of other places to go… it’s a cycle that’s been feeding on itself for a while. Last year on Stuart we spoke with a couple that said we HAD to go to Montague Harbor… and they were right, as it’s now one of our favorites. And now here we were in Montague with two women telling us we HAD to go to Ladysmith, so we’ll just keep riding the wave of recommendations to more and more places. Pretty inspiring women, too… they sail out of Vancouver, have owned their boat since the 70’s, and while the younger one (late seventies) has a floating house near Vancouver, the older one (84!) still lives aboard in their marina on the Fraser River outside Vancouver. The next morning we watched them leave, rather casually, to cross the Strait of Georgia to Vancouver and then time the tide right to get up the Fraser to their marina… cool!

As we were leaving Montague we spied yet another Gulf 32 (popular boats around here), this one with a swim step added on… after two seasons of slinging the 100 pound hound dog in and out of the dinghy, something close to this is in our future when budget allows.

Up next, unknown territory (for us)… Wallace Island…

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