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.

Away we go!

Just as in life, our plans for this adventure have taken different shapes along the way. But now it’s time to cast off the lines. As much as we eagerly await to see what unfolds next, we also cherish the friendships and time we have spent at Canoe Cove Marina in Sidney, BC. We will certainly miss Bryan and Bonita Elliott of S/V Magellan II who convinced us in 2012 that this was the place we should stay. They welcomed us the day our boat launched and were there to see us off at our departure. They have represented the best of Canadian hospitality, even including us in their Canada Day block party and Thanksgiving. Farewell also to Rick Schnurr and Jude Brooks whose generosity, kindness and friendship has been most appreciated.

And of course we will miss our marina neighbor to the port side, Paul Switlyk of M/V Taliesin II with whom we have shared many lovely adventures both at sea and on land. Fortunately, through his daughter and son in law, he’s got some solid Utah connections, so we know our farewell is limited.

Nonetheless, this photo sent by Paul the night of our departure really tugged at our hearts.

Altering course

Many of you may have heard of our ambitious plan to sail across the Pacific this summer. After delays out of control of any one individual, it became clear that we just didn’t have enough time to make it safely across the Pacific. We listened to the wisdom of experienced sailors. ( Many thanks to our nautical guardian angels: Garry and Ticki MacKenzie of S/V Thistle, Bill and Cathy Norrie of S/V Pixie, Leighton Richardson and Lynda Martel of S/V Morningstar, Bruce Halabisky of S/V Vixen, and Pamela Bendall of S/V Precious Metal.) Our new plan holds plenty of sailing challenges and beautiful areas to explore. Thank you for following our sailing journey. Here’s the latest iteration of our planned journey:

Where we’ve sailed so far

Since the launch of the boat in 2012, we’ve explored just a fraction of the waterways in the Pacific Northwest. Rather than citing a list of stops, here’s some of our favorite sites along the way.

Princess Louisa Inlet, British Columbia

The water looks like the Caribbean, but in this case the color of the water is due to glacial silt. Another glorious day in Desolation Sound

Toba Inlet Desolation Sound.  (Towing the dinghy Dave built)

Last summer we explored further points north to Haida Gwai. Thanks to Paul Switlyk on Taliesen II for inviting us to share the journey into Fjiordland and Haida Gwai.

SGang Gwaay, Haida Gwai
Dawn departure from anchorage in Haida Gwai

We also explored both small towns and cities along the way:

Victoria Harbor – Classic Boat Show
Sullivan Bay in the Broughtons Archipelago

About the boat


Designer: Paul Gartside   Builder: Jespersen Boat Builders

Year built/launched: 2012   Place built: Sidney, BC, Canada

Hull type: Monohull   Style of boat: Sailing boat

Sails: Hasse & Co Port Townsend Sails

Description of boat: Cruising yawl La Vie en Rose is a double-ended cruising sailboat, inspired by the canoe yawls of the 19th century, but capable of coastal and offshore cruising.

Between 2005 and 2008, we collaborated with designer Paul Gartside to develop our ideal cruising sailboat. Six sets of preliminary sketches passes back and forth until we settled on the current design. In 2010, Eric Jespersen of Sidney, BC, Canada began construction, and we launched her in September 2012.

The hull is cold molded of Western Red Cedar over a Douglas Fir backbone. Decks are marine plywood. The yawl rig with double headsails provides a flexible, easily handled sail plan. Since bulkheads are not required structurally, we chose an open, single cabin layout below. The interior is designed to maximize livability and storage space rather than the number of berths.

Le Vie En Rose

Auxiliary power is provided by a 55-hp Volvo diesel 4 cylinder engine

We attempted to maintain simple systems. Heating and cooking are fueled by diesel. Electrical requirements are minimal – there is no mechanical refrigeration, only an ice box. A composting head eliminates the need for holding tanks and thru-hulls. Generous tankage (140 gallons of water and 140 gallons of fuel) has allowed us to explore remote areas for prolonged periods without outside support.

Le Vie En Rose

An article about the creative process and our collaboration with the designer and builder appeared in the January/February 2018 issue of WoodenBoat Magazine (#260)