Another course change

After our fabulous trip down the coast to San Francisco, it would be anticipated that we would continue our cruise down the coast. Yet we have been embraced by the kindness of many enthusiastic sailors in the SF Bay. We’ve also been thrilled to introduce the boat to both our Bay Area kids as well as curious grandchildren. So, SF Bay will be LaVie’s home for the winter and then we’ll continue southbound.

Samantha and Emily are learning all about berths and lee cloths

How great is this? More nooks to explore!

We have been able to experience the excitement of sailing underneath the Golden Gate aboard the gorgeous schooner, Elizabeth Muir. With her gifted skipper, Peter Haywood, at the helm, we zipped throughout the Bay in the typical 20 knot breeze. It was terrific to spend the day with our nautical guardian angels, Leighton Richardson and Lynda Martel aboard a classic schooner.

Photo credit: Lynda Martel

So, for now this blog will pause for the cruising season, and resume when we explore points south. Thanks to all of you who have been following us. Stay tuned!

To the Golden Gate!

Fresh from our recent West Coast VI circumnavigation, we were enthused to embrace the next phase of our sailing journey: night sailing. Pumped with enthusiasm (and seasickness meds) we rounded Cape Flattery, only to discover flat seas, a mild swell and little wind. Although we imagined that we would be flying along once we turned the corner southbound, the calm conditions gave us a chance to acclimate to the swells, watch schedules and radar. Here’s our first sunset at sea:

By the second day, we were experiencing “typical” Pacific sailing conditions. Does this look like a content sailor?

151 nautical miles this day!

After we got into the rhythm of the sea, there was time for relaxation and entertainment. (Thank you Alex!)

We even welcomed a visitor to the boat who needed a break from the wind

After cruising over 800 nm from Sidney, BC we zipped under this beautiful entry to the City By the Bay.

This is the crew just after we docked in Sausalito. Pretty happy, eh?

As we looked around our surroundings, we realized we had entered a new world! (Some of us didn’t think it was all that strange…)

Marin County, of course

And we’re off! v2.0

After completing boat maintenance, cleaning and reseating the leaky deck prisms, we left our lovely marina headed to points south. This may be the last photo of LaVieEnRose at Canoe Cove, but then again…

We are joined on this leg of the journey by a good friend, Alex Zimmerman. Dave and he have known each other through the Wooden Boat forum.

Of course, the optimal time for departure from Canoe Cove was dawn. This journey promises plenty of sunrises, just not associated with marinas.

Even the Strait of Juan de Fuca decided not to inflict punishment. Here’s a photo as we left Port Angelas.

After Port Angelas, the next stop is Neah Bay ( where I am furiously typing before we are out of cell coverage) This is the last stop where the crew can all sleep through the night. Then we turn the corner around Cape Flattery! I may post more to Twitter via Iridium Go, but there won’t be any pics uploaded. You can follow our location on the link titled, Where is LaVieEnRose? You can also follow us on Twitter at @LaVieEnRoseYawl. Next post will likely be from SF!

VI Circumnavigation complete!

The last leg of our trip from Bamfield to Sooke began predictably in the fog of early morning. As we cruised through Trevor Channel, around Cape Beale and into Juan de Fuca Strait, we were reminded how much this portion of the journey served as a metaphor for the uncertainty of life ahead.

It gave us a chance to use our recently acquired skills using radar. Truth be told, there was no pondering the sea state in the fog until we were certain we weren’t going to ram a fishing boat!

At the end of this portion of the journey, we were delighted to see the flags of Canoe Cove, the marina where we first launched six years ago.

And we could reflect on how far we had traveled since then.

Next phase: southbound along US West Coast.

Bamfield:Past and Present

It’s impossible to explore the West Coast of Vancouver Island without encountering fascinating aspects of the past. Bamfield is one of those places. All good students of Canadian history know that this is where the transpacific telegraph line terminated. ( This telegraph line connected all the former and current British colonies.)

In addition to learning about recent BC history, we also spent three hours with Wisquii, our tour guide on the Kiixin experience. We hiked through gorgeous old growth forests to the site of the former Kiixin village from the 1800’s Although he was trained as a teacher, our guide was foremost a master storyteller and we were captivated by his tales of the huu ay aht.

Has anyone ever heard of a “culturally modified tree?” Check out this one on the path to the Kiixin village:

A CMT is one that’s been altered by indigenous people as part of their traditional use of the forest. In the case of this tree, it was examined to see if it was worthy to be a canoe, but it didn’t make the cut.

Now, onto modern day Bamfield which is a thriving town, despite its remote location. It is the home to the Bamfield Marine Science Center which is formed by a consortium of five western Canadian Universities. This is a center where research flourishes. Anyone recognize which adorable sea creature inhabited this skeleton? (adorable is the main clue!)

By far, the cultural highlight of the entire trip was attending the MusicByTheSea performances. (Check out their website at After attending one concert, we decided that we should prolong our stay and take in two more. The musicians are world class, and the director is such a visionary.

How’s this for a most spectacular venue? (I think I need help from a thesaurus is that “spectacular ” seems to have become my favorite word during this trip.)

We were also impressed by the simplicity of descriptions in Bamfield. ( Bill and Cathy Norrie told us about this, but we had to see this ourselves!)

So this marks the end of the “touristy” part of the circumnavigation. Next, Juan de Fuca Strait, then back to Sidney. Stay tuned!

The Broken Group

This cluster of islands, islets, rocks and reefs is part of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. To glance at the chart makes you realize that this is an area that requires careful attention for navigation. (Clearly a glance is not enough!) There’s such a variety of experiences that we met boaters who spend all summer here.

In this cruising area, rocks are everywhere: along the coast, at the entrance to anchorages, even in the middle of bays.

Once we were tucked into the anchorage, it was time to explore. Our dinghy, a Portland Pudgy handled the rocks with ease.

The hike across Effingham Island was well marked by past cruisers.

And we were rewarded by a spectacular beach at the end of the trail.

History, hiking and hot springs

As we explore the rugged West Coast of Vancouver Island equipped with accurate charts and modern navigational aids, we are humbled to think of the feats of the early mariners. Nootka Sound marks the site of the first permanent European settlement. Indeed, Esteban Jose Martinez was sent to establish the post because Spain was worried about incursions by the Russians who were in Alaska. Imagine that? Meddling Russians…

Ultimately, Bodega y Quadra and George Vancouver met at Friendly Cove to sort out their territorial differences. This stained glass ( a gift from Spain) illustrates the signing of the Nootka Convention, in which Spain relinquished to England all its claims to the Northwest lands. It baffles me why Spain would give a gift to commemorate their surrender of claim to the land, but here it is:

The church which housed the stained glass was formerly a Catholic Church, however it was deconsecrated in 1994 and native carvings were placed at the former altar.

The village which surrounds Friendly Cove is called Yuquot which translates to “Where the Winds Blow from Many Directions” Good warning for sailors!

After our encounter with a significant site of British Columbia history, we were off to well known Hot Springs Cove. Most people arrive in float planes and speed boats from Tofino, but we were fortunate to share the area with just a few other boaters and campers. The hot springs are located in another beautiful provincial marine park. The walk to the springs is through the temperate rain forest.

Through the years, visiting boaters have replaced the planks with the names of their boat. There were a few marriage proposal planks as well. Lots of great names…my fav is Exit Strategy.

At the end of the 1.2 mile trail was the Hot Springs. It was definitely worth the hike. The lowest pool mixes with the ocean water in a natural jacuzzi with each ingress of water.

A hot springs shower at the end of the day!

No fear explorations of the “wild” West Coast Vancouver Island

After my last post featured unrealized fear and dread, we have come to embrace the variety of conditions along the West Coast. It’s also made us appreciate how much emotional energy goes into fearfulness. Now we have confidently sailed past the next sailing landmark of Cape Cook around the Brooks peninsula.

In addition to embracing the rolling swells of the Pacific, we’ve also loved exploring the inlets along the coast. British Columbia has designated many of these lands as marine parks. Kayakers go to great extremes to get to these destinations. This kayaker is being lowered into Walter’s Cove by the Uchuck III. This ship does triple duty: delivers goods to remote villages without land access, shows tourists this pristine area, and transports kayakers into the wilderness. ( They are conveniently retrieved the following week!)

All of the sounds have isolated anchorages that allow us to be out of the strong winds. This was taken in Dixie Cove, another provincial marine park. The stand up paddle board was even mobilized.

Another great advantage of the inlets is the westerly wind that blows in and allows us to propel LaVieEnRose using only the drifter.

Look who is loving all of this! ( someone had to take the pic…but include both of us in that sentiment)

Nuchatlitz Marine Park

To the West Coast of Vancouver Island: around dreaded Cape Scott

“Chance favors the prepared mind.” Many of you who know me well have heard me utter that phrase. Preparing to cross around Cape Scott, where the waters can be treacherous, filled us with dread. This began the part of our journey into bluewater cruising. We read and reread every guidebook, and double checked the tide charts. Our anchorage at Bull Harbour allowed us to be close to the Nahwitti Bar which is must be crossed in the 12 minutes of high water slack. You would think that this peaceful anchorage would give calm the night before our crossing. But of course, that wasn’t the case.

As we exited Bull Harbour, we noticed this natural sculpture. Smiling or leering?!

After all the anticipation, we realized that we caught the perfect weather window to pass Cape Scott. We raised the all the sails and slid past Cape Scott. Once again, we embraced another valuable lesson in our sailing journey! Now onto Sea Otter Cove.

Cruising the Inside Passage

Since our cruising goal this season is to concentrate on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, we’re quickly ( for a sailboat) moving up the inside passage. Despite this focus, we’ve relished stopping at our favorite anchorages and marinas along the way. Our first day was a brief skip up to Clam Bay, Penelakut Island where we were able to share a lovely evening with Rick Schnurr and Jude Brooks. Boat buddies add so much to the joy of cruising.

After Clam Bay, we sailed from Nanaimo up to Tribune Bay, Hornby Island. For those of you who are BC sailors, you know what a coup it is to get a southerly wind to carry a sailboat northbound. And riding the current made it even better! Love being powered by wind and water. Honestly, this photo was really taken in BC…could be the Caribbean. (Guess the snow-capped mountains in background are a giveaway)

With the prediction of incoming gale force northerlies, we joined many other wise boaters who stopped the next day at the welcoming Comox marina. The stop also allowed us to explore the charming town of Courtenay the following day. It was an added treat to discover the Cake Bread Bakery. As if the bakery didn’t provide enough opportunity for temptation , the adjacent gourmet chocolate shop, Hot Chocolate doubled down on caloric sin.

In the Comox marina our mast was visited by this well known symbol:

Our next stop at Campbell River was purely utilitarian: we were trying to troubleshoot an issue with our radar. After receiving expert advice from SeaCom marine ( Furono dealer) we realized that the problem was that our radar was installed off 180 degrees. Now that we know to alter our perception of reality ( no politics in this blog…) we’re all set. Just look left instead of right! Or vice versa…

Once the gale abated, we coasted through Seymour Narrows at slack, and cruised up Johnstone Strait. (Once again aided by the current push of 2+ knots). All of our previous trips up this strait have been marked by strong winds from the northwest, accompanied by choppy waves. On this trip, the water was so calm that we could enjoy the gorgeous glacier cut mountains along the way.

For our anniversary, we tucked into a lovely little anchorage in Port Harvey and enjoyed the best sunset ever!

So next we are headed to Port McNeill before we position at a Bull Harbour awaiting the weather window to head around Cape Scott and onto the West Coast of Vancouver Island. Once we get to the West Coast, we will be limited to posting pictures to places with cell coverage. We’ll also be able to post more on Twitter through our Iridium Go hotspot, so follow us on Twitter @LaVieEnRoseYawl.