On June 28 it felt good to get underway. Compared to other summers my cruising plans were scheduled much later, and I did not lead a flotilla this year, which would have put me out on the water sooner. In mid-June, my daughter graduated (who was class president at Anacortes High School) and that brought a flurry of activity and family events I could not miss.
The extra did give me more time to spend working on Searaven, my 30’ Tollycraft, before the trip, but there were still a few last minute glitches. Let’s just say a good sea trial is well worth it to find problems before you leave on your trip.
Now that I’m officially out on the water here is my first “Cruise Report” from Anacortes to Lund.
Blakely Island Store in the San Juan Islands.
First up, we stopped at Blakely Island Store to meet the new manager, Neil Krivonak and his family. They are doing a superb job with the store, gas dock, and marina. And… they are making Blakely Island donuts fresh every morning. The Krivonak’s are a local family that has lived on nearby Obstruction Island for the past 12 years and hope to be working at the store for some time to come. Stop by and say hello, and try the donuts.
The historic Moran Mansion at Rosario Resort.
One of my favorite destination resorts is Rosario Resort & Spa. Every year I make sure to spend time catching up with the resort manager Christopher Peacock. My admiration for all he and his family do for the resort goes back over 30 years when I first visited and attended one of his recitals and slide shows on the mansion organ. At the time, he was the artist in residence; now he runs the place. His wife manages the spa, and his daughter manages the Cascade Grill area. The resort has gone through many stages of life, and it is getting back to a new high point thanks to the ownership of Jerry Bartow.
New Dock at Rosario Resort and Spa.
The big surprise this year is a new 240’ concrete dock and breakwater in front of the marina. Now large vessels can stay on a dock at Rosario. The end of the dock is reserved for Kenmore Air floatplane service. We will be updating the diagram for the marina at Rosario for the 2017 Waggoner Guide. On Wednesdays through Saturday, Christopher showcases the colorful history of Rosario with a slide show and gives organ recitals. If you have not seen the show or listened to the room-sized pipe organ – it is a must-see.
The historic mansion is marvelous, and The Mansion Restaurant has a new chef this season who is dazzling patrons with an innovative menu. For my short stay, we dined on the outdoor patio at Cascade Bay Grill. Very good. Last year we reported the new Rosario Yacht Club room and bar in the Cascade Bay Grill and store building. This small, cozy bar, off the gift shop, was erroneously reported by me as private and requiring the purchase of a burgee to join. Christopher advised us that joining is much easier, buy a burgee, buy someone a beer, give the secret handshake… just show up and you are in!
West Sound Marina & Deer Harbor Marina
The yard at the West Sound Marina is busy, and the schedule for the travel lift is out a couple of weeks. Emergency repairs can be squeezed in.
Deer Harbor is in the construction phase of their restaurant Buck & Doe. You’ll see it when you walk up to the top of the dock and the road on the way to the pool. The building goes back to the 1800s and was the Buck & Doe restaurant a long time ago. While it won’t be ready for this season, this will be a fun pub to visit next year with a sunny deck, and a warm wood paneled interior. The pizza oven had just been delivered when we were there. We can’t wait.
Bedwell Harbour and Canadian Customs
We never quite know what to expect when entering Canada. We were over the liquor limit with a few open bottles of wine and rum. The Customs agent on the phone asked if we had liquor, I said yes. She said “Bar stock?” I said yes. No more questions. Welcome to Canada.
Poets Cove Resort & Spa has new management, and they are working to bring back the quality this resort has had in the past. The Aurora restaurant has a new chef with dinner nightly (except Tuesday for now) and a breakfast brunch on weekends. You can also dine for lunch and dinner in the pub. The spa is still outstanding. My favorite feature is the pool above the marina docks where you can wash your clothes in the laundry 10 feet from your pool chair.
They still have breakfast items and lunch in the store. In the past this has been called a Bistro and going forward, we will be calling it more of a cafe. This is a slight change, but better identifies the meal service. With two pools, Otter Bay Marina is still very inviting on the sunny days we have been having this summer.
We made a quick stop in Ganges to provision and see some of our customers. Black Sheep Books is our place to stock up on reading material. Thrifty Foods market and “The Local” liquor store above was a stop to provision those things that we could not bring across the border. We stopped in Mouat’s Trading Co. for a few hardware items we needed and had dinner at The Tree House Cafe. The food is always good, and on top of that, the atmosphere under the trees is so inviting and when you pair that with the live music it made for a perfect summer night. Mark and his crew do an excellent job.
Nanaimo Harbour Marina as night falls
We took Dodd Narrows an hour early to be able to make a meeting in Nanaimo. It was on the flood, and we peaked at 13 knots of boat speed going through the narrow cut. Challenging the rapids is not recommended for everyone. We steered to the port side of the cut away from the boiling turbulence on the starboard. I would not have gone through any earlier and would not have done this on the ebb.
We learned a few things about the Nanaimo Port Authority and the Cameron Island dock. First, it has been officially renamed as the W. E. Mills Landing, though many and the dock staff will continue to call it the Cameron Island docks. It is the primary transient space and the space for larger vessels. Smaller vessels, 45’ and under can request moorage space in the inner marina if they want to be closer to the floating restaurants or the washrooms and showers and the downtown area. We always thought they spread transient moorage between the two. Not always so, unless requested. There are no washrooms or showers for the Cameron Island facility. The Cameron Island moorage has its own dock staff and often when you call on the VHF, you will be handed off to the dock staff there for moorage instructions.
Crossing the Strait of Georgia
Being Canada Day weekend, the military area of Whiskey Golf was not active. The winds were almost non-existent, and the waters were reported as “rippled.” Halibut Bank reported the seas as .2 meters. It was almost glassy, and in the 6 am sun, beautiful. One of our nicest crossings ever – and it matched the forecast, straight across through area WG. The wind did pick up later in the day quite significantly. The early morning strategy for crossing worked.
The marina was buzzing with activity on this busy Canada Day weekend. There is a new chef at The Upper Deck Cafe, and the new menu looks interesting. Early reports from our readers say it’s pretty good. The store continues to amaze, and how they pack so much in there is hard to believe. Helly Hansen gear, Secret Cove tee-shirts with their distinctive designs, tasteful nautical decor items, and an array of liquor, dairy, fruit and vegetables, snacks, staples, bakery and food items, books, cruising guides, maps, fishing gear and even boat hardware. They seem to have it all. When I asked owner/manager Scott Hagedorn about this, he quipped “Yup, someday were are going to sink the float with our inventory.”
We have reported the changes and renovations at John Henry’s Resort & Marina, but now we had a chance to see them for ourselves. Bob Hale reported on John Henry’s in his “Cruising Report No. 2” and I will add the change is shocking when you walk through the front door. The store is now bright and updated with lots of new items in stock. The liquor and wine department is open, brightly lit and has new selections. In addition to the many food items, there are books, gift items, fishing tackle and boating supplies – all attractively displayed. As Bob reported, the Cafe is very good with a menu that was a bit longer than expected. The portions were oversized and a good value. Owner Allyson Nelson has a few more plans in store as she molds John Henry’s into an upper scale marina resort destination.
Kids love the pool at Pender Harbour Marina and Resort.
Tucked away in Duncan Cove, on the north side of the Pender Harbour complex of bays, this marina resort is primarily permanent moorage. Owner Jeff Peifer works to fit transient moorage into open slips. The resort has a small store and an outdoor pool. The grounds are part of an RV park with young families around. You can also rent cabins or yurts. Kayaks and stand-up paddleboards are available too. We will be reporting a new trend we are seeing where you can boat from resort to resort with extended family. They can stay ashore, and you can treat them to boating experience by day. Grandparents love this option.
If you will be in the area, Pender Harbour Days is July 8-10. It’s an annual celebration of the area’s marine heritage with historical boats, land-based heritage displays, sailing competitions, a boat parade, kid’s events, combined with an art fair and entertainment.
We are sitting in Lund this morning, and very excited about entering beautiful the Desolation Sound Marine Park. The Lund moorage is packed with boats. Some are moored on the breakwater docks and rafting is offered as an option. Just a reminder if you plan to spend the night in Lund, plan to arrive early. Nancy’s Bakery continues to be the place to be for morning coffee, and they have a wide assortment of bakery items, bread, and excellent WiFi. For this reason alone, Lund is hard to pass by.
Do you have observations, comments or questions during your summer time cruising? Let us know at waggtalk@WaggonerGuide.com.
We hope to see you on the water.
~ Mark Bunzel