Monday, August 28, 2017

Steveston Rediscovered

Quaint fishing village of Steveston and Harbour Authority Docks
After a few days editing for the Waggoner Guide and other computer work, we departed North Vancouver for Steveston, rounding Point Grey in a northwesterly wind with 4-foot swells.  Numerous commercial and sport fishing boats were off-shore near the North, Middle, and South Arms of the Fraser River.  Winding our way through the fishing fleet, we turned east and followed the marked channel along the Steveston Jetty and entered this charming fishing community.  Steveston looks like a movie set with its prominent wharf filled with shops and eateries, and is a delightful place to visit possesing historic significance.  The community was named in honor of Manoah Steves, who arrived here with his family around 1877.  It was his son William who developed the townsite, becoming Steveston in 1889.  Today Steveston is one of several communities within the City of Richmond.  Salmon canning began here in 1871 and by the late 1800’s, there were 15 canneries operating along the Steveston waterfront. 
The historic Britannia Shipyard
Located east of today’s public wharf, is the oldest surviving building on the waterfront, the Britannia Shipyard, a timber framed structure built on pilings in 1889.  This traditional L-shaped building first served as a cannery; but when the salmon stocks hit a downturn, canneries closed including the Britannia Cannery which stopped operation in 1917.  The Britannia shipyard maintained the cannery's fleet of boats for many years and constructed new boats. 
Shipyard with Chinese Bunkhouse in distance
During the height of cannery operations of the late 1800’s, Chinese, Japanese, First Nations, and Europeans came to work in the canneries.  Single men of minority descent, lived in barn-like barracks and made up 90 percent of the work force but were paid half that earned by their white counterpart. 
Homes on pilings connect to a main boardwalk at the old cannery site
Europeans lived in relative comfort in homes along a boardwalk which connected to other buildings that stretched over the tidal land.  Homes, canneries, and net sheds were constructed on pilings with the boardwalk serving as main street.  As the cannery became a shipyard, some people stayed and others moved to the site.  One well known Japanese family, the Murakami family, lived in House #40. 
The Murakami Home and Boatworks building
Otokichi Murakami built a boatworks in 1929 next to his home.  Today the boatworks building is used for boat building programs and maritime demonstrations.  Otokichi and his wife Asayo lived in the small house on the boardwalk with their ten children until interned in 1942 during WWII. The Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site is within easy walking distance from the Steveston Public Wharf along a new, wide promenade overlooking the channel.  New condos, with businesses on the lower level, have recently been constructed along the promenade and a new moorage facility now provides visiting boaters another viable option when staying at Steveson.  Located east of the Public Wharf down the channel is the new City of Richmond Parks dock (604-244-1208) offering 600 feet of moorage with side-tie on both sides of this substantial concrete dock. 
The new City of Richmond 'Imperial Landing' facility
First 3-hours are free.  Rates for stays over 3-hours are posted at the automated pay-station at the head of the ramp.  30amp power on the dock, no water or shower facilities.  The village of Steveston to the west, and the National Historical site located to the east are within walking distance from this new dock named Imperial Landing. 
A wide promonade with new condos extends between Steveston village and the National Historic Site
Steveston is a wonderful destination for boaters looking for a village experience with good eateries, fun shops, character, and opportunities for hiking to several points of interest. 
Interesting Shopping at Steveston Harbour Authority Wharf
In addition to the historic cannery/shipyard site, visitors will find a trail leading west from the village out to Garry Point with views of the Strait of Georgia. Don't forget to visit the impressive Gulf of Georgia Cannery Museum on the west end of the public wharf. The community of Steveston is definitely worth a stop especially if you haven't visited here recently.
Good eateries are found on the Wharf and in the Village

Friday, August 25, 2017

‘Day Tripper’

Mosquito Creek Marina in North Vancouver served us well as a base of operations for a planned day-trip to Indian Arm.  A local’s favorite cruising ground, Indian Arm is one of the most scenic areas in Greater Vancouver.  The Coast Range Mountains rise 5,000 feet over the inlet.  From Vancouver Harbour, we passed through the ‘Second Narrows’ along an industrial area; but once we turned the corner northward up Indian Arm, we found a scenic playground. 
The Village of Deep Cove in Indian Arm
Although relatively close to Vancouver, there is a remote feeling in this fjord-like inlet.  The village of Deep Cove is the only substantial settlement in Indian Arm and is literally at the end of the road from North Vancouver.  The first permanent residents in Deep Cove were John and Rhoda Moore who settled here with their five children in 1919.  They opened the first store in the area in 1927 at the corner of what is now Panorama Drive and Gallant Avenue. 
Nice eateries and shops are found in Deep Cove
Deep Cove is a delightful place to visit offering cute shops and eateries. 
Deep Cove Public Wharf and Deep Cove Yacht Club
A public wharf (for boats up to 36 feet) is available for day-use while visiting the village.  No overnight stays on the wharf but the adjacent Deep Cove Yacht Club has a reciprocal program with other yacht clubs; and Deep Cove North Shore Marina, located nearby, offers transient moorage in unoccupied slips.  Anchorage is possible south of the public wharf but is often full during the peak season.  Motoring to the public wharf can get exciting, as we soon discovered. 
Future generation taking kayak lessons at Deep Cove
Deep Cove is a popular location for youth summer programs for kayak and day-sailor lessons.  These future boaters crisscross back and forth around the anchorage area and public wharf, creating an interesting obstacle course for others to maneuver around. 
Deep Cove Yacht Club with North Shore Marina in the distance
Views from Deep Cove North Shore Marina
If anchorage in the area is not available or space at the North Shore Marina is full, Bedwell Bay, located two and a half nautical miles from Deep Cove on the east shore of Indian Arm, is a good choice.  Continuing northward, Indian Arm becomes more isolated with only a few homes along the shore and tucked along the banks. 
One home we spotted near Lone Point has an elevator down a rock face in order to reach the home below.  Completing our day-tour of Indian Arm, we headed back through ‘Second Narrows’ on a 3-knot flood, skirting around a large yacht that was waiting for the bridge to open.  As we approached Mosquito Creek Marina, several tug boats were bearing down on us while making their way into a nearby port.  This time we knew where we were going and slipped through the unmarked narrow entrance to Mosquito Creek Marina; however, we still needed to turn our 46-foot vessel inside a 36-foot fairway for slip moorage.  We decided it might be easier to back in.  With fenders and lines ready and a hand-held radio for communication, we began the tight maneuver.  Three guys were standing on the dock across the fairway and I heard one of them exclaim, “he’s going to have a heck-of-a-time getting that boat in there!”  Leonard skillfully made two or three maneuvers and we were easily inside the slip, a roar of cheers and clapping erupted as they said “well done.”  It was a nice ending to a day of constant vigilance and dodging traffic on a busy summer’s day.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Budget Conscious Option

Lions Gate Bridge with West Vancouver in the background
Entering the narrow fairways at Mosquito Creek Marina
With more to explore in Greater Vancouver, we exited False Creek into English Bay and circled around the west side of Stanley Park to pass through ‘First Narrows’ under the Lions Gate Bridge.  The narrows were running at just under 4 knots, we were pushing against an ebb tide but able to stay out of the main current by hugging the shoreline.  Arriving in the body of water called Vancouver Harbour, we made our way to the north shore in search of Mosquito Creek Marina, locally referred to as ‘The Creek.’  This marina is almost totally hidden from view and has no signage marking the entrance.  We found a small gap between some floats and barges which appeared to serve as a breakwater and proceeded through.  Carefully making our way down the very narrow passageways and around boat sheds, we found a series of docks.  Neither the docks nor the slips were clearly marked with letters, making it difficult to find our assigned slip.  Not able to raise anyone on the radio or by telephone at the time, we stopped at the fuel dock and asked for a dock diagram showing the location of C Dock and the numbering system.  Proceeding down the appropriate fairway, we found our assigned 50-foot slip, and somehow managed to turn our 46 foot vessel 90 degrees in the 35-foot wide fairway, easing Got d’ Fever into the slip.
A beautiful mountain backdrop at Mosquito Creek Marina
Once settled in, we could admire the lovely new floating homes and backdrop of impressive mountain peaks.  It’s a nice setting, but getting into the marina can be a challenge as some of the fairways are narrow and may be limiting for larger boats.  It does have its advantages, however, like cheaper moorage rates and a nearby IGA for grocery shopping. 
It's a short walk to Lonsdale Quay along a promenade
A short walk along a promenade, with expansive views of Vancouver, takes you to the Lonsdale Quay Market, a collection of shops and services with a Saturday Farmers Market.  The lively Tap & Barrel pub in a refurbished warehouse and the excellent Gusto di Quattro Ristorante Italiano are in the Lonsdale area.  A SeaBus departs every 15 minutes from Lonsdale for easy access to downtown Vancouver, arriving near the cruise ship terminal just east of Coal Harbour. 
The Lonsdale Quay Market
Mosquito Creek Marina can also serve as a home base while visiting the Capilano Bridge, a popular tourist destination with a pedestrian suspension bridge crossing over a canyon, extensive boardwalks through tree tops, and suspended boardwalks around the faces of rock cliffs.  North Shore Bus stops are near Mosquito Creek Marina on Esplanade Avenue, just two blocks upland.  Mosquito Creek Marina is operated by the Squamish Nation with an ongoing effort to replace finger piers and decking boards, which have deteriorated.  Future plans include the removal of one of the older docks extending from shore and the addition of new floating homes, allowing for a wider entrance into the marina. 
North Vancouver and the Lonsdale Quay
If you are looking for a budget conscious option to tour greater Vancouver, Mosquito Creek Marina may be a good choice.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

World Class

We departed Point Roberts for the city of Vancouver on August 21, the day of the eclipse.  Around 10 am the sky turned to dusk and about 11:30 am the sky returned to its normal pretty blue daylight colors.
Craft of all sorts are found in False Creek
As we approached Vancouver, boats of every sort from yachts to sport fishermen and commercial vessels were prevalent in English Bay and became increasingly dense as we entered False Creek; numerous paddle and peddle craft, water taxis, and yachts filled this busy harbour.  Having stayed at Coal Harbour near Stanley Park in previous years, we chose to stay in False Creek this year to enjoy Granville Island and the easy access to metropolitan downtown. 
Metropolitan Vancouver seen from False Creek
Vancouver is among the most beautiful cities in the world, surrounded by water and towering glass buildings with numerous parks and bike baths that encircle the city.  Multiple water-taxi stops on both sides of False Creek make it easy to see all the sights in downtown as well as a visit to Granville Island.  Man-made Granville Island was created around 1917 to house heavy industry.  During the Depression, hundreds of families lived there in a shantytown settlement.  These families sold salmon and buckets of smelt door to door or operated small boats to earn a living.  Today, Granville Island is a fun and exciting place to spend time walking among the many boutiques, art galleries and art schools; dine at several different restaurants or attend live theatre. 
The Public Market on Granville Island
The fabulous Public Market on Granville Island is the main draw and shouldn’t be missed.  One could spend an entire afternoon in the market alone finding special treasures and specialty produce.  Although there are a few artisan craft stalls, the market mainly consists of a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, and cuts of meats and sausages.  It’s always a treat visiting the market and we never go away empty-handed. 
Quality Meats and Sausages at the Granville Public Market
Boaters have several options for moorage located on both sides of False Creek, most marinas take reservations, others may have limited space or operate on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Details for moorage options can be found in the Waggoner Cruising Guide.  Anchorage is available in False Creek with a permit obtained at Heather Civic Marina or you can get the free anchor permit online.  The customs dock is located at Fishermen’s Wharf (on the T-portion of the dock, marked in yellow).  We cleared customs quickly by telephone, the only challenge was negotiating around boat traffic and some commercial fishing boats at the wharf. 
Docks at Quayside Marina
After clearing customs, we slowly made our way to the north side of False Creek and into our assigned slip at Quayside Marina.  Quayside Marina is the most modern and secure marina in the area and is most likely to have available space, but reservations are highly recommended during the peak season.  Fishermen’s Wharf is also a good choice and often has available space. 
Fishermen's Wharf and Custom Clearance Dock
It’s hard not to enjoy yourself in this beautiful city with chic restaurants, classy bars, museums, and endless shopping and entertainment.  The best part is the convenience of getting around town by bus or across the harbours by water taxi. 
Water-taxis are a great way to get around on False Creek
Two operators in False Creek provide foot ferry service.  Aquabus (604-689-5858) which can accommodate bicycles, wheelchairs, and pets; and the False Creek Ferries (604-684-7781) which offers a day-pass for easy hop-on, hop-off at all stops.  Both water taxi services stop at all the major destinations in False Creek.  The more time we spend in Vancouver, the more we come to cherish this world class city.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

‘The Point’

The large area making up Birch Bay sees lots of activity during settled weather
After our visit to Eastsound, the Landon’s returned to Anacortes for another week of work on the Waggoner Guide, ‘burning the candle at both ends’ as they say.  Perhaps our blog readers wondered what happened to us.  We’re happy to report that we are back burning engine hours instead.  It’s all part of the on-going combination of work and play.  Heading north, we passed Lummi Island transiting Hale Passage and pulled into Birch Bay to take a look.  Finding anchorage in Birch Bay is not a problem due to its huge size, nearly 2 nautical miles across.  Excellent anchorage depths vary from 50 feet to 12 feet with a drying tidal area at the head of the bay.  Crabbing is also good, evidenced by the numerous crab pots in the area.  This grand bay, which includes a protected private marina and the town of Birch Bay, is exposed to the Strait of Georgia and northwest, west, and southwest winds.  This is one of those places to anchor and enjoy only in settled weather.  Continuing on, we arrived at Point Roberts, a fascinating place with a unique history.  Point Roberts, just south of Vancouver B.C., lies at the southern end of a Peninsula. 
Point Roberts Marina
When the negotiated border between Canada and the United States was established in 1846 at the 49th Parallel, a small piece of land on the tip of the peninsula fell below this line, becoming part of the U.S.  This small piece, 4.9 square miles to be exact, extends into the Strait of Georgia, isolated from the lower 48 states. Prospectors headed north during the Fraser River Gold Rush; but when that ended, ‘The Point’ was made a military reserve and later became a popular hiding place for smugglers.  In 1894, a group of Icelandic families came to the area to clear land for farming and build log homes.  The military reserve was canceled in the early 1900’s.  These farmers, no longer considered squatters, were given homesteader rights. 
Remains of a previous cannery on Point Roberts (looking north)
Others soon came here to work and live, including fishermen and workers for the canneries that sprang up.  Today, mostly retirees live at Point Roberts enjoying an island-like life style.  Although residents must endure the inconvenience of crossing the check point at the Boundary Bay Border between Point Roberts, WA and Tsawwassen, B.C., they cherish this unique seaside setting with sandy beaches and four different ocean-side parks.  There’s even an award-winning golf course. 
Looking south across the Strait of Georgia, San Juan's in the distance
The various parks can be reached easily by bicycle.  Bicycle rentals are available through Pedal Pushers Bike Rentals who will deliver bikes to the marina.  Boaters find Point Roberts to be a unique destination within easy reach from the San Juan’s, weather permitting.  The well protected marina basin offers transient moorage in unoccupied slips, reservations are required.  Boaters should be aware that silting has occurred over the years near the ends of the breakwaters; swing wide around the breakwaters, keeping a mid-channel course. 
Breakwater entrance leading to the marina basin at Point Roberts
When entering through the breakwater, we calculated 5 feet of water at zero tide.  As reported by the Point Roberts Marina, the entrance will be dredged starting in October of 2017 and will be less of a concern for boaters in the 2018 boating season.
The large man-made marina basin at Point Roberts
Point Roberts Marina was the vision of Egidio Trasolini, who began the process of dredging out a basin in 1976 which is still one of the largest man-made marinas in the Pacific Northwest. 
Compass Rose Bar & Grill at Point Roberts Marina
In addition to enjoying the lovely nearby parks, boaters won’t want to miss the cute Compass Rose Bar & Grill at the marina, open from 11 am to 9 pm (closed on Tuesdays).  We chose the eggplant-cheese sandwich and a refreshing glass of lemonade while watching all the harbor activity from the restaurant patio. 
Seaside homes at Point Roberts, marina entrance in distance

Friday, August 11, 2017

Don’t Forget Eastsound

The charming Village of Eastsound, overlooking East Sound
Settled weather is a prerequisite for an overnight anchorage when visiting the village of Eastsound.  Wind from the southeast has a long fetch before reaching the head of the body of water named East Sound, bringing with it some uncomfortable rollers.  But the village at the head of this Sound shouldn’t be missed, it’s one of those special places unique to the San Juan Islands. 
40-foot Day-use Dock at Eastsound
Anchorage is doable in settled weather just south of the day-use dock in 40-50 feet of water, keep seaward of the dock to avoid any eel grass.  Anchorage can also be found along the western shore in Fishing Bay and Judd Bay in 40-45 feet of water over a mud bottom, Judd Bay offers the best protection from south winds but does have a few hazards.  North winds are less likely to pose any problems while anchored in the area.
There are numerous interesting shops in Eastsound
We decided on Fishing Bay and had a comfortable night’s stay.  Taking our dinghy to the public day-use dock on the eastern shore, we made the short walk into the village and enjoyed this charming community. 
It's hard to choose from the many excellent cafes in Eastsound
The village is filled with wonderful boutiques and excellent cafes; sidewalks and pathways lined with flowering shrubs and trees create a private garden appeal.  The town bakery and the ice cream shop are favorites as is the Saturday Farmers Market held in the Village Green, May through September. 
Orcas Island Historical Museum at Eastsound
A collection of log cabins from the late 1800’s makes up the Orcas Island Historical Museum.  Located in the center of town, the museum includes the history of early pioneers who first came to the area.  One of the first European settlers to Eastsound was Charles Shattuck, who built a log cabin and operated a store in the late 1850’s. 
Eastsound is a delightful garden town experience
Many of the early pioneers were employees of the Hudson's Bay Company sent from Fort Victoria to hunt deer.  Other pioneers were prospectors and trappers. 
The Historic Emmanuel Episcopal Church
Some of the town's early buildings still remain in Eastsound, including the Emmanuel Episcopal Church built in 1885 which overlooks the Sound.  While the right sea conditions are often required for a visit to Eastsound, this special community shouldn’t be forgotten when planning a trip through the San Juan Islands.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

At Sea Again

Scenic Lopez Sound
After working at the Waggoner Office in Anacortes, it’s back to work again on the boat and out to sea.  Departing in the late afternoon, we made the short one-hour cruise to Lopez Sound.  Although nearby, it seems a world away.  The large body of water between Decatur Island and Lopez Island, known as Lopez Sound, has a variety of scenery that captures the soul, everything from wind-swept slopes and rocky beaches, to tree-covered hillsides and open pastures. 
Boats at anchor in Hunter Bay
This broad area has easy anchoring depths and several coves with differing orientations for protection from most winds.  Hunter Bay and Mud Bay at the south end of Lopez Sound are two favorites.  Apply named, Mud Bay has good holding in 12-15 feet over a mud bottom.  The small Mud Bay County Park, located on the southeast side of the bay, provides access to shore and is a popular departure point for kayakers. 
A lovely Sunset at Mud Bay
Neighboring Hunter Bay has consistent 15-foot depths over a mud bottom and is protected from all but northeast winds.  We saw several boats anchored in Hunter, while finding ourselves anchored alone in Mud Bay.  The numerous mooring buoys in both bays and throughout Lopez Sound belong to area residents.  Although homes are plentiful in Lopez Sound, most are tucked among the hills behind trees providing a sense of privacy.  Crabbing and clamming appears to be a popular local past-time. 

Morning Fog greets us in Mud Bay
A blanket of fog greeted us in the morning and didn’t burn off until 11am.  A haze due to the forest fires in Canada still lingered in the air.  Undeterred, we continued to our next stop at Blakely Island Marina.  Approaching the fuel dock and the marina docks is best accomplished at slack water.  
Combination Day-use Moorage and 24-hour Fuel Dock at Blakely Island
It can be a challenge approaching the outside dock or heading down the narrow channel into the marina when the current is running.  However, fresh made donuts, delicious ice cream, and other goodies found at the store are worth the effort. 
Lovely Grounds and Outdoor Seating at Blakely Island Marina
The grounds are lovely and the views are striking on a clear day.  Those interested in flying always appreciate watching small planes depart and arrive at the adjacent community airstrip. 
Sweets and Other Treats at Blakely Island Store & Marina
After our sweet indulgence at the Blakely Island Store & Marina, we made our way to Obstruction Pass State Park on the southeast tip of Orcas Island.  We confirmed that the three mooring buoys at the park are still in place and available for boats 45 feet and under for overnight moorage, fees are paid ashore.  Families appeared to be having a great time playing on the beach and cooling off in the water; campers had pitched their tents and were seen hiking along the trails. 
Obstruction Pass State Park
It turned out to be a lovely day despite the dull-colored sky.  We continued our journey along Orcas Island and turned north into East Sound, reaching the village of Eastsound where we anchored for the night in Fishing Bay.