We teamed up with Jim and Tami on SV Symoon, last year we made some loose plans to circumnavigate Vancouver Island, and we wanted to try it again. SV Dakota did it 2 years ago, but Symoon has never gone around, so with some vague plan and 1 month to make it around, we set off from Pender Harbour. First Jim and Tami, very important farmers from Sask/Alta, had to get out of farmer mode and into boat mode. So while I assisted Tami to clean and reprovision, Dave assisted Jim with replacing the batteries, solar and fixing a leaky dinghy. So on June 25th we set out across the Strait in the perfect conditions and sailed all the way to Nanaimo.
Once in Nanaimo- SV Symoon had a haul out booked for a insurance survey and to paint the bottom. Of course, Western Canada happened to have a heat wave roll through at this time, and we had lots of swims off Dakota and hikes on NewCastle Island, while Symoon slaved away in the heat to get their boat done. They got back in the water the the 30th and off to Comox we went. We had a quick stop in Tribune Bay before heading to Comox, where we saw a pod of killer whales. Then we headed north to anchor across from Campbell River in Gowlland Harbour. We now had to plan our way to the north part of Johnston Strait.
There were huge winds forecasted for the Strait so we made our way around by going through the Octopus Islands, then we timed our way though many rapids including Yulculta and Dent. By the time we went though Dent it was getting to be 3-5 against us. Dakota went through first and a 40 foot whirlpool started to form beside us….Symoon, only 5 minutes behind us, couldn’t get through. So while Dave and I fished in Mermaid Bay, Symoon slummed it on the docks in Big Bay. The next day, we timed it way better and got through Devils Hole at slack and headed to Johnston Strait…. and all the way up to Port Harvey. On our way to Port MacNeil, Dakota was having a great motor sail and spotted dolphins and humpback whales, but unfortunately, Symoon was getting a rather loud knocking noise from their engine area. So, when we docked in Port MacNeil, Jim dove on their boat and found out the rubber part of the cutlass bearing had fallen out.
Jim booked an emergency haul out in Sointula but not for a couple day from then so we went to Waddington Bay for a couple days to wait. Got the prawn trap down and got out fishing- so a fish taco dinner was in order. We encountered many Humpback whales of Malcolm Island when we returned to Sointula. Great place to get stuck for a few days- but this really is cutting into our circumnavigation time. We finally got to Bull Harbour at the north end of the Island on the 14th (2 weeks to get this far). There were a few other boats here and we started to buddy boat with SV Naida (Ken and Anne). We all headed to out in the wee hours to get over Nahwitti Bar and we all headed to Winter Harbour.
From there we headed further into the Sound to introduce Symoon to Varney Bay and the Marble River.
Next big adventure was to go around Brook Peninsula, but with a good weather window, we all got around with very little drama. We came across a large pod of Humpback whales, loads of California Seal Lions, and got to see a few puffins along the way….oh, and the rafts and rafts of the ever cute sea otters.
We spent a few days in the Bundsby Islands and this is where we parted ways with SV Naida. Off to Zebellos and Tahsis- where we met up with Scott and Kat on their little sail boat. They were having engine problems and got stuck in Tahsis for 3 weeks. We stopped for a couple days in St Gertrudis Cove and while Dave and I did a couple boat projects, Jim and Tami went to Friendly Cove and got a tour of the light house.
We hit Hot Springs Cove on the way south, but of course the springs were closed due to Covid but not all was lost, we had a birthday party on SV Symoon with Scott and Kat attending. Then we headed to Tofino- Symoon booked themselves on the dock and we anchored in Browning Passage- very comfortable as long as you time the currents to get around the little islands. Then while Symoon spent a few extra days in Tofino, we headed down to Ucluelet and walked around the little town.
We met up with Symoon again in Broken Group- Dakota sailed most of the way and even got the spinniker up for a while. We spied a black bear on our way in (our only bear on this cruise) and waited for Symoon to show up- which they finally did later in the evening. More fishing was done here and some ocean swimming. Our time was drawing short so off the Bamfield and explored the board walk then to Port Renfrew, where we decided to anchor in Thrasher Cove- there was some swell but the fish boats created a lot of wake. We had the last supper on Dakota with a very nice bottle of bottle of champagne.
We left really early after not having much sleep. We had a whale surface 10 feet off out starboard side while we were sailing to Victoria. Finally, we all made it to Victoria and got a spot at the dock. Now it’s time to relax and plan a dinner out.
We spent a day doing laundry, cleaning and visiting then started to make some loose plans for our next adventure….Mexico anyone?