Comox to Gorge Harbor
Updated: Aug 19, 2019
Desolation Sound Vacation 07/26/2019 - 07/29/2019 🍒
Nanaimo --> Comox 🌛 --> Gorge Harbor Marina 🌛
The Ranger Tug and Cutwater (RT) factories invite their owners on a few cruises every year. A cruise to Desolation Sound is always a very popular one. We couldn't make it with them last year, but we made it a priority for this year!
On Friday morning, we pulled out of the Nanaimo Marina about 6:00 am. I was able to be pretty quiet by not using the thrusters. I hope we didn’t wake our neighbors. We left that early to take advantage of the typically smooth water in the morning. We weren’t disappointed. The sun was shining off of glassy smooth water in front of us. It was also the day we were to meet up with the Ranger Tug flotilla that left Anacortes a day behind us. The plan was to meet them in Comox B.C. That plan changed shortly after we turned north coming out of the harbor at Nanaimo. We were getting settled into our cruise to Comox when we noticed a Ranger Tug 31 at our 7 o’ clock position about half a mile behind us. After looking a little closer, that boat was being followed by several other Ranger Tugs. Our tribe had found us. I contacted them on the radio, said hello and made pleasantries and fell into position behind the lead factory boat and continued our cruise northbound.
A few minutes later, we saw several other Ranger Tug outboards passing us about a half mile to the east. For those that don’t know, RT makes a 23 ft boat and a 27 ft. boat in an outboard model. These smaller boats are much faster than the inboard diesel boats. Because of this, when traveling in a group, we typically break into 2 groups – affectionally known as the slow boat group (ours) and the fast boat group. The reason that they were so close together at this point was because they all had to transit Dodd Narrows about the same time.
The water stayed smooth as we continued on our way to Comox. There is a lot of beautiful scenery up here. We passed miles of tree covered hillsides dotted with only a house or two.
We did get to stop and watch a couple Humpback whales for a few minutes just before we passed the beautiful Light House at Chrome Island. We also got a red light at the Denman Island cable ferry. This is a ferry that is attached to a cable underwater. While the Ferry is moving, the big light is “Red” due to the fact that there is a big cable at the surface. Once the Ferry stops, the cable drops to a safe depth and the light turns “Green” so that boats can pass. The light is visible from a good distance away, so when we saw Red, the group just slowed way down until it turned Green again. This was the first time I had ever seen a cable ferry.
Comox BC has a very nice marina on the edge of what seems to be a friendly little town. The marina has showers and laundry. There are several restaurants, shops and cafes within a few minutes walk from the marina. Next to the marina parking lot is a nice park. On the weekend, it looks like a popular place especially for families with kids. Kids were running on the big grass field, playing in the water at the fountain playground. Yet, in the park, there are a ice cream truck and a couple food trucks where Tracy found a tasty fish taco!
Friday evening was the group happy hour. Everyone brings a chair and some food to contribute to the potluck and your own drinks. This is how we have gotten to know several of the other RT owners. We met a few more tonight as well. There are about 40 boats in our group, so there are plenty to folks to visit with, all with at least one thing in common. As expected, there was a lot of good food and good conversation. Next morning, we made a list and went to the store. This was our 3rd Canadian city, and our 3rd trip to the grocery store. We will not go hungry.
Saturday evening was another get together, this one was a Salmon BBQ sponsored by Port Boat House (PBH). They are the RT/Cutwater dealer in Port Alberni, BC. They are the largest RT/CW dealer in the world. The salmon was great! PBH also brought some great prizes to give away to the winner of a Trivia Contest. This was fun and everyone got very involved. First place was won outright, but there was a 9 way tie for second and third place. We were in the tie. They had a tie breaker trivia contest and we came in 4th – just out of the prizes.
We are leaving the next morning for Gorge Harbor on Cortes Island in Desolation Sound. This is about 32 miles and includes crossing the Straight of Georgia. The weather shows that leaving about 11 am should give us the best weather for the crossing. The slow boats left first and the fast boats will follow about an hour later. The first hour was pretty bumpy. We were in honest 3 foot waves with some 4 footers thrown in for fun. After that hour, the water smoothed out quickly. Just in time to watch more Humpback whales about 5 miles from our destination.
Arriving at Gorge Harbor is beautiful. There is a narrow opening that opens up into a large harbor. It truly is impressive. The marina is a very short distance from the opening. We got tied up and checked in and set out to explore.
Gorge Harbor Marina is top notch. There is fuel and water, a store, a very nice restaurant and a pool. They also have a very steep hill to get to any of those amenities (except the fuel). On the other side of stores, it is a camp ground.
Video: coming into Gorge Harbor
Today is Sunday, and tonight there is another happy hour!! It was excellent, again. After happy hour we went up to the restaurant for a late dinner with some friends we had just met the night before. Before we left the restaurant, we were chatting with other RT owners. Tracy saw a waitress deliver a beautiful plate of oysters on the half shell. She immediately said we will have to come back again!
Gorge Harbor also has music by the water every night. After dinner we sat and watched local bluegrass band playing some old country songs. These guys were great. we both enjoyed the music and wish they would have played longer.
On Monday, we did the laundry here. We are impressed how clean the laundry and shower are at this marina. There are always staff cleaning the facility. We took a short walk down the road and then explored a trail that seemed to go in the direction of back to the marina. We walked down this well-worn trail. It was a very nice walk through the forest. After maybe half a mile, this trail seemed to come to an end. Right in someone’s back yard! We followed their driveway to the road and found our way back to the marina – laughing about the trail all the way.
Tonight was another sponsored BBQ. This was sponsored by Volvo-Penta. The company that made the engine in Cerise. They provided a really good BBQ of Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, Polish Sausages, and all the trimmings. We were so full after the dinner but guess what, we had a reservation at the restaurant for oysters. We had a drink and Tracy got to enjoy the delicious oysters as her dessert after burgers! ;-)
That was the last night with the RT group. Beginning tomorrow, we are on our own. We have some idea about what we are planning to do, like most of the other boats, but there is a lot of discussion amongst the captains and 1st mates about what to do tomorrow. We were involved with several of those discussions. Tomorrow begins the next chapter of our Desolation Sound vacation!
More pictures of Comox:
More pictures of Gorge Harbor: