Fall Cruising in the Gulf Islands

Last week I had the pleasure of teaching a father and his adult daughter both the Basic and Intermediate Powerboat Standards.

The family has chartered a 43′ power catamaran in the British Virgin Islands next month.  Although they have some experience, the charter operator wanted them to have certification.

I arranged a charter of a Carver 404 in Sidney.  On Monday morning, I picked up the boat and took it to their home in Mill Bay.  We proceeded to Genoa Bay for some docking practice and then went to the Government dock at Musgrave Landing on Saltspring Island where we had lunch aboard.  We returned to Mill Bay late in the afternoon where they went home and I stayed aboard at the dock.

Tuesday morning we headed around the northern tip of Saltspring Island and anchored for lunch in Princess Bay on Wallace Island.  The whole island is a marine park.  We were the only boat in the bay.  There were two smaller vessels tied to the dock in Conover Cove.  In the afternoon we headed south to Montague Harbour and picked up a mooring for the night.  There were only two other boats in the harbour, much different that in the summer with 125+ boats.

Wednesday morning we got underway just as a light rain began.  We proceeded down Trincomali Channel, doing a timed run from Ben Mohr Rock towards Enterprise Reef light.  From Enterprise Reef light we changed course to head towards Mouat Point on North Pender Island.  We had plotted these courses and calculated the time on each leg before we left.  This gave both students a chance to steer a compass course for an extended time.  We cruised at 6 knots to make the calculations easy and to conserve fuel.  The students had some practice using the radar to track the ferries and be sure we were safe.  We arrived in Bedwell Harbour and picked up a mooring for a late lunch.  After lunch, we did more docking exercises at Poet’s Cove Resort where the docks were almost empty.

At the end of the day we anchored and the first time we tried to set the anchor, it did not hold.  A great lesson!  The second time it set firmly and we had a safe sleep.

The next morning we did more docking exercises, getting in and out of tight places safely.  We also taught the proper use of spring lines.  We left Bedwell Harbour and headed past Swartz Bay ferry terminal back to the dock at Mill Bay.  They went home and I spent the night aboard.

Friday morning we launched the dinghy with the “SeaWise” system which works well.  We then towed the dinghy behind as we proceeded to Tod Inlet.  We anchored with a stern line to shore for lunch.  After lunch we retrieved the stern line and loaded the dinghy back on the swim platform.  We went to the dock at Brentwood Lodge to pick up our son Steven.  We dropped the students off at Mill Bay late that afternoon and Steven and I took the  boat back.  Because the fuel dock closes at 1600 in the winter, we picked up a mooring at Sidney Spit and spent the night aboard.  Next morning we were up early to be back to Tsehum Harbour and refuel the boat and have it back at the marina by 1000.  Total fuel for the five days was 355 litres or just over 15 gallons per day.  Two of the days we operated at 12 knots, the rest we cruised at 6 knots.  The engine is rated to burn almost 17 US gallons/hr at full throttle so by running slower we cut the fuel cost by a huge amount.

I will be meeting the students this week when they will write the exams to complete the certification.

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Update:  Both students passed with excellent marks!

 

 

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