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Featured

ADVENTURES

ALASKA: LEG 1 – GANGES TO MADEIRA PARK

May 9, 2016

Bluebird skies greeted us this morning as we left the dock at Ganges and carefully squeezed our way out past Money Maker Rock just off the end of the pier, which has kept the local shipwrights and boatyards in business for years replacing countless props and repairing countless hulls. Having escaped unscathed, we resumed yesterday’s northward trajectory after a brief jaunt through scenic Montague Harbour on Galiano Island.

Trincomali Channel is gorgeous evidence of the vast ice sheets that have periodically gouged and scoured this land for millions of years. A flooded glacial valley, it is bordered on the east by a steep ridge of sandstone and basalt which resisted the ice’s erosive force but has since broken in two, forming Galiano and Valdes Islands. The gap between them is called Porlier Pass, and the tide boils through four times a day at up to nine knots. Today we skirt its roiling waters, but even from a mile’s distance the ebbing tide sets us strongly to the west.

On the northern tip of Valdes Island, we pass vast rafts of freshly cut logs which sit chained to the sheer cliffs. They are bound for the sawmills of Ladysmith and Chemainus on Vancouver Island, and then on to the cargo ships that will bear them around the world and into the waiting hands of carpenters and builders.

The windswept Flat Top Islands greeted us as we came through Gabriola Pass and out into the Strait of Georgia. Dividing the mainland from Vancouver Island, it is a long north to south body of water with a well-deserved and fearsome reputation. Storms scream through here on a regular basis, lifting up steep tight packed chop that has spelled disaster for many ships.  For today at least however, John Paul’s blessing back on the dock in Bellingham seems to have done the trick and we are greeted by nothing more than a fresh breeze and a two-foot chop that sends spray shooting off the bow that spatters the window with glittering droplets. We make good time across the long open water and soon slide into the calm waters behind Thormanby Island. An hour more puts us at the entrance to Pender Harbour and Madeira Park, where beautiful vacation homes sit perched on the hills above the many coves that make up the anchorage.

With the fleet riding safely at anchor, the combined crews convene on Deception for a happy hour get-together. Anchor lights flick on as the sun dips below the horizon and a deep silence falls over the bay. Tomorrow will take us north into the heart of Desolation Sound, but for now we are all more than happy to be nestled in the foothills here in Madeira Park.

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