We now have left the good old US of A and hope that you all can play some needed ‘Trump’ card and clean things up by the time we return. After waving goodbye at Turn Point, we over-nighted at Montague Harbor on Galiano Island. Our hoped-for northern trip calmness began with an epic sunset behind a Wharram style catamaran at anchor.
The Waggoner Cruising Guide states; “The Strait of Georgia is not to be trifled with”. Boy, did we find that out today! Our morning started out calmly, motoring away from Nanaimo through Newcastle Island Passage. Upon entering the Strait of Georgia, we found the predicted light winds, so we raised the spinnaker and sailed in a northwesterly direction for almost four hours. Smooth sailing! Then the winds dropped — no problem — we brought down the spinnaker and sailed on northward, wing and wing (the main out on one side and the jib pushed out by a pole on the other side) with the motor helping a bit. Then the winds picked up from the west, so again we were sailing. The wind became stronger and one by one, down came the sails as up, up, up went the Qualicom wind: 22 kts — 24 kts — then 26 kts. What had been 1-2 foot waves rolling by became 5-6 feet tall and unnerving as they were so close together. A half hour into this, Val crept cautiously forward to lower the main and he continued competently handling Cat’s Cradle as she slammed into wave after wave and the wind built and built. It seemed a scary, hair-raising and never-ending hour and a half.
We were most relieved to see the rock breakwater of Ford Cove on Hornby island at about 7 p.m. We anchored inside in 11′ of water with good holding on a rocky bottom. We gave safe sighs of relief and discussed our current epic, just 4 days into our summer trip. Leslie remembered the constant banging inside the salon (thinking the port side was coming dislodged), the waves slamming onto the port window and the starboard window close to the water at times. She also reported that her hands were aching because of strongly gripping the salon table for over an hour! Val checked the gauges: Max boat speed: 9.8 kts and Max wind speed: 36 kts. All this was evidence that we had experienced a Qualicum wind — one that has come through a “notch” in the mountains of Vancouver Island, picking up speed as it comes down and then tears across the Strait of Georgia, giving unsuspecting sailors a reality check and a dose of well-earned caution re. future sailings.