Visiting Victoria

We’re tied up on D Dock at the Wharf Street Marina, watching the morning takeoffs and landings of float planes on the Inner Harbour. We had planned on leaving for Sidney Spit early this morning, but changed plans, due to strong winds, which are in the forecast for today. The weather is predicted to settle by tomorrow, so we’ll leave then.

We’ve been in Victoria for two days already, and the stay has been delightful. We got here around 11:30am on Sunday, after a nice passage from Garrison Bay on San Juan Island. We got underway around 8am and cruised along the west shore of San Juan, hoping to spot some orcas. We were unsuccessful, and turned to cross Haro Strait just south of Lime Kiln Lighthouse.P1180741 We were being moderately rocked by a 2 foot southerly swell. The breeze was light and out of the southwest, so I was able to raise the main and the genoa, which steadied the boat and gave us the bonus of an extra push. We motor sailed at around 6 knots.

The steadying effect of the sails was, unfurtunately too little-too late for Cameron. The rolling motion got to him and he succombed to a case of mal de mer. After feeding the fish he felt better. We wove our way inside of Trial Islands, and followed the narrow Enterprise Channel on approach to Victoria Harbour. This route is noted for strong currents and hazard rocks. They are well charted, P1180742 however, and we were arriving near the end of the ebb, so the current wasn’t too strong, while giving us a bit of a push. As we neared Victoria Harbour, we watched the Victoria ferry make her exit, and we were followed in by a pair of wooden masted schooners.

P1180753Our first stop was at the Customs Dock, where we tied up, flying our yellow quarantine flag. I got off and picked up the telephone to call Customs. The official who answered was polite and efficient. He took our information, gave us a clearance number, and we were in. We then went back to the fuel dock where I took on 12 gallons of gas, which worked out to a little over 6 miles per gallon thus far. I’m very pleased with fuel efficiency for the new engine.

After fueling, we headed for the marina. While distracted with looking them up in the cruising guide, I forgot to follow the line of yellow buoys located along the west side of the channel. These buoys are intended to keep smaller vessels out of the main channed, which is heavily used by float planes. My error was pointed out by a marine patrol boat officer, blue light flashing. I apologized, and quickly altered course to the yellow buoys. At the marina, we were directed to an outside tie up along their long D Dock. I walked up to the office to check in while Sandy fixed lunch.

P1180775P1180758We met the captain of a fascinating vessel moored near us. His name is Bruce MacDonald, and he ownes the North Star of Herschel Island, which is the last existing 3 masted square rigged sailing ship in Canada. This vessel was built in 1935 and served an Inuit family who engaged in fur trapping. Bruce is the third owner, and he has raised his 3 kids aboard. They cruise all over the local waters. Cameron bought a Tee shirt with an image of the North Star on front. The back reads “Thou shalt not serve two masters.”

The rest of the day was devoted to visiting the Undersea Gardens, and going on a guided tour of the Parliament Building. The tour included a living history presentation done by professional actors, and it was excellent. We capped things off with a seafood dinner at Nautical Nellies Restaurant. The food and service there was great. After dinner we paid a long overdue visit to the marina showers.

Yesterday morning we trekked 8 blocks to the Thrifty Grocery Store and stocked up on meats, fish, bread and fresh vegetables and fruit. Cameron was a great help in helping pack our load of provisions back to the boat. We packed our lunch and walked over to the park in front of the Parliament building for a picnic. The weather was sunny and pleasant, my favorite kind. We spent our afternoon exploring the Royal Museum and watching an I-Max film on the Arctic. P1180784 On our way back to the boat, Sandy took Cameron souvenier shopping, while I hoofed over to a sporting goods store to get a fishing license for Cameron. It was free, but a license for me would have cost $101, so I opted for just his free license. I’ll let him do the fishing, and I’ll act as guide.

We fixed a great sockeye salmon and corn on the cob dinner back on the boat, and then did a laundry. While putting clean sheets into our sleeping bag, I listened to weather radio, and concluded that it would be best if we headed for Sidney Spit on Wednesday, instead of Tuesday. I’ll try to make up the day by a longer cruise after we leave Buchardt Gardens.

The day didn’t end with dinner on this final day in Victoria. After dinner we decided to go for a final walk around town, while waiting for it to get dark so we could see the Parliament Building with its lights on. P1180830We started off by walking over to the ice cream stand near the marina restrooms. While ordering sundaes we talked with the guy working there, and he told us about the free Jamaican concert just cranking up a short distance away. We took our ice cream in that direction, and sat on a grassy slope where we ate ice cream, watched the sun set, listened to the music, people watched, and chatted with Cameron. We had a great conversation about his Friends Club back in Maryland. After the sun set we got up and walked over to the Carillion and through the Empress Hotel rose garden. By this time the Parliament Building had become illuminated, and we enjoyed the beautifully it building from several waterfront angles. It was a great way to wrap up our visit to Victoria.

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