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La Conner to Nanaimo

Updated: Aug 20, 2019

Desolation Sound Vacation 7/23/2019 - 7/25/2019 🍒

La Conner --> Deer Harbor🌛--> Poets cove (Customs) -->Ganges🌛--> Nanaimo🌛

Swinomish Tribe celebration

We left the slip in La Conner at 10:00 am on Tuesday. The Swinomish Tribe was celebrating a festival. There were several traditional native American boats paddling through the channel and Padilla Bay.

There were also many sailboats out playing in the wind. Our first stop is Deer Harbor Marina on Orcas Island. Deer Harbor is a very fun place. The people are great, they have a nice little store, pool and great Ice Cream.

Bus stop

There are a couple restaurants and hotels near by. We were surprised to see there is a shuttle bus that goes around the Island and the bus stop is right at the marina. We think it would fun to stay a couple nights here and take the bus to see the other side of Island next time.

After docking, our 25 foot power cord was too short and we had to borrow a 30 amp power cord from the office. The reason that we planned a stop at Deer Harbor was to top off with fuel, taking advantage of the lower U.S. prices before going into Canada. We spent one night there and headed to clear customs in Bedwell Harbor on South Pender Island when we left on Wednesday morning.

Poets Cove Customs Dock

The trip to Bedwell Harbor was quite smooth and we had the simplest customs clearance ever. It was over after a 45 second phone call. I put up our courtesy Canadian flag on the mast and we pulled away from the customs dock looking toward Ganges, BC on Salt Spring Island.

The trip up to Ganges was a little bumpy. 15-20 mph winds had created 2-3 foot waves for most of the 2 hour trip through the islands. Neither of us had ever been to Ganges. It has good reputation as a nice place to visit when boating in the southern gulf islands. I hailed the marina for our slip assignment. A nice young man waved at s from the dock so I knew where to go. The waterfront looks different from the water than the aerial pictures in the chart plotter. Once at the dock, again we had to ask to borrow a 30 amp shore power cable.  It is a securely gated marina and offers good showers which are powered by Loonies.

Overview of Ganges Marina

We got all settled in and went for a walk. Right outside the marina was an ice cream stand and a small fish market. What luck! It was sunny and warm and an ice cream cone sounded great to me. Tracy just rolled her eyes as I ordered it. Within a couple blocks there is a marine park, a pretty nice grocery/liquor store, several restaurants and shops. We stopped at the store, Thrifty Foods, which is equivalent to Safeway at home. It was a great place for us to stock up on some fresh meat and vegetables. Of course, we didn't forget to stop at the liquor store too! :-)

In the afternoon walking in the town, we found a cute local restaurant called the Treehouse. It is quite small, but the open air seating area has a big tree as the centerpiece. The tree made a great atmosphere. It also kept the waitstaff busy sweeping up leaves. The beer was cold and the food and wine were good. We liked this place so much that we came back later for snacks and live music. It seems the Treehouse has music 7 days a week during the summer to promote local entertainers. The singer who performed that night is Sarah Osborne. Her music (she plays guitar) and her voice sounded like they are perfectly bonded between the Treehouse atmosphere and the small town. We decided to stay longer so we ordered more food and had a couple drinks. The first night in BC on the trip was very pleasant and laid back.

After a good night’s sleep, we had to leave about 8:00 am to catch the slack tide at Dodd Narrows, just south of Nanaimo. Wednesday morning weather was much better. The seas were flat all the way to Dodd Narrows. We arrived about 20 minutes before the predicted slack, and my app said that the current was running less than 2 knots, so we didn’t wait. There were plenty of boats, but all was orderly and we went through without an issue.

Nanaimo, BC

North of Dodd Narrows (see the video below) is less protected than the gulf islands and there was a little more wind as we got to Nanaimo. I wanted to get fuel before we tied up to the dock. While getting fuel, one of the dock hands pointed at a hair comb lying on the dock, and asked me if I lost it. I acted very happy and told him I lost my comb in about 1988 and haven’t needed it since…..but that I was sure happy to have found it here on the fuel dock in Nanaimo! We both laughed once he noticed my hairstyle. Once docked, guess what – my shore power cord was too short!!! I wasn’t going to borrow one again. (the 3rd time on the trip so far!) Nanaimo is a big town. There has to be a chandlery close….and there was. We walked to the store and bought a 50-foot 30-amp shore power cord. I did feel a little conspicuous carrying this 20 lb., bright yellow, cord every place we went on the way back to the boat.

We were lucky enough to be in Nanaimo on Thursday.

Every Thursday during the summer they have a nice little street fair in the evening. We walked through that and ate some great street tacos and tamales. The gentleman selling them off the cart told us that he had some frozen as well. We bought half a dozen and ate them later in the trip.

The first 2 days have gone well. We are scheduled to meet the RT group in Comox BC the next day. Comox is about a 50-mile run north of Nanaimo. We will be leaving early to take advantage of the fair-weather predictions for early in the morning.


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