Thursday, October 4, 2012

Victoria BC and the Ex-Forestry Service Vessel Rendezvous

Well, it has only taken us two months to post the photos of our time in Victoria. Chalk it up to busily living the dream!

First step was to drop the youngster off at Lang's Horse and Pony Farm for a two-week camping/ horse-riding extravaganza. She was somewhat sad to miss out on the festivities, but the lure of Bailey-the-quarter-horse was far too great. We bid farewell to Juliet and her mount and hit the water: Canada-bound.

The British Columbia Forestry Service Centennial took place on August 3rd-5th in Victoria's Inner Harbour. Eleven vessels total came to be on display and to help celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the Forestry Service. The event coincided with BC Day weekend (something akin to our 4th of July, I suppose). The city was bursting at the seams and we felt pretty special to be awarded dock space at the Ship Point Pier--smack in the middle of all the events! (Even if it meant rafting together two and three deep).

The squadron of privately owned ex-BC Forestry
Vessels lines Ship Point Pier in Victoria. 8/3/12.

Jeff and I motored into Victoria early to clear customs before the masses arrived; good thing too, as the winds began to pick up upon our departure. I watched with baited breath as our single screw, full keel boat was swept toward the Harbour Air seaplane fleet... Jeffery used our windage and the direction of the blow to spin Kwaietek around quite handily. More than a few people on dock and on neighboring vessels shouted out their praises as he maneuvered our 63' boat out of the tight squeeze. Seaplanes (and my nerves),  intact.

Even though I had piloted Kwaietek all the way over from Bellingham, I left the close quarters maneuvering to Jeffery still. My summers on Zodiac leave me little time to familiarize myself with how our own vessel handles in small spaces. I took my place at the foredeck to handle lines and toss fenders. Several Bayliners came cruising by us as we approached our dock and called over things like, "Hi there! Looks like he gave you the tough job!" and "Ahoy Matey! Your Skipper sure has a beautiful boat!".... I found myself gritting my teeth and forcing a wave to the yachties. Oh yeah? I've got your tough job right here, asshole. Fuming as only a true Scottish lass can fume.

It had been a thing with me, ever since we started sailing. I'd always bridled at the stereotypes where men were at the wheel while their wives stood by the dock lines... the rhinestone-encrusted First Mate logo spread across the chest of a blue and white striped blouse--white Capri's and visor over the bleached blond hair-thing. I swore way back then, like with all things I have undertaken, that I would never fall into the "belay babe"/ "ski bunny" / roles. ...and now here I was with my 100-ton captain's license waving to yachties while tossing fenders. Grrrrr.

Eventually I got over my temper tantrum about this perceived slight to my feminine abilities and began to enjoy the show. We were rafted next to Syrene, an 81 foot Edwardian yacht that was built in 1921. Her owner, Robert Boyd, had become an old friend of ours from cruising on the Zodiac and we enjoyed the chance to catch up with him while at dock.

Syrene and Kwaietek (formerly the "BC Forester"), rafted at dock.

The highlight of the festival was hosting the Forest Rangers onboard. The old gentlemen (some of whom could barely make it over the rails), climbed aboard their old vessels and instantly became 30 years younger. They'd tour their old boats, always stopping in the engine room to reminisce about the our case, the "Granny" Gardner, our six-cylinder 105 HP diesel engine. After a time, there would be quite a bottleneck in the engine room passageway. Jeffery held court down below, extolling Granny's virtues and soaking up all of the old stories from the engineers and old timers.

One of our new acquaintances, a BC Forest Ranger
stopped by for coffee and tales on his old boat.

The third day of the event was a much anticipated performance of the Victoria Symphony, playing live on a big barge in the middle of Inner Harbour. The finale was to be the 1812 overture with cannons firing (at us), and fireworks overhead (of us). Crowds began to appear around seven in the morning. I mentioned to Jeffery that it was beginning to resemble a Grateful Dead show what with the blankets and festival chairs springing up all around the harbour. Jeff replied, "Yeah, except for the tempeh burritos and overwhelming essence of patchouli , it might as well be a Dead show." Well, yeah. He had a point. Before the big event occurred, the speakers all around our docks began to pipe out music from the Nutcracker ballet. I followed the gaze of my shipmates and laughed aloud as the tiny "pickle boats"--iconic water taxis that buzzed about the harbour, performed a synchronized water ballet in the center of bay. It was truly hilarious!

Dance of the pickle boats!

That night, we sat on the deckhouse with several of the other forestry boat owners, sipping hard cider and watching the entertainment. When the cannons fired off and the fireworks burst over our heads, we decided that life was pretty durn sweet right then.
Happy hour on Kwaietek prior to the Symphony Splash.

The next morning, we made our preparations to head back home. My time off of the Zodiac was drawing to a close and I needed to be back onboard. We said good bye to our new friends in the Ex-BC Forestry Vessel Squadron and promised to make it to the round up in 2013. Before we cast off from Syrene, Robert leaned over the railing and invited us to buddy-boat back into the San Juan's. "Let's anchor up at West Sound tonight. I'll take you to a restaurant that has the best crab cakes in the islands!"

"Done." Jeff replied.

We spent a gorgeous day crossing Haro Strait, following behind the much faster  Syrene, ( TWO Gardner diesels in her engine room)!... and matched pace with another one of the smaller forestry vessels. By lunch time, we encountered a large pod of killer whales off Battleship Island. We made it into West Sound in time for crab cakes at the Madrona Pub. Robert wasn't exaggerating; they were awesome!

Kwaietek tucked into Pleasant Bay for the evening.

Reluctant to fall right back into our routines at home (yeah, yeah, I expect to get no sympathy from anyone about returning to work on a 160' schooner)!... We anchored our last evening in Pleasant Bay and made a fancy dinner for ourselves. It had been a wonderful weekend and we decided that next year will be all about finding adventures just like it!

Dinner without the kid...hoot hoot!
... except with Juliet along for the trips next time.


  1. I thought the Madrona Pub was in Eastsound, not Westsound???

  2. You are correct. Thank goodness for vehicles that operate on land to get us there. (Robert's dock is in West Sound, that's why we anchored there). ;-)