A sunny, breezy morning greeted us in Ganges Harbour. All of our crews on this trip are well experienced boaters. Many have completed the Great American Loop and others have cruised extensively in the Pacific Northwest. Their experience was obvious this morning as they readied their boats for departure, and we were underway by 7am.
With the southern breeze behind us, we had a comfortable cruise through the Canadian gulf Islands and up through Gabriola Pass. As we cruised we marveled at the sandstone cliffs, water sculpted shoreline, nesting cormorants and guillemots. We also passed a large Stellar sea lion haul out. Male sea lions go to great lengths to defend their breeding territories; during the breeding season they will not leave the territory to feed and have been known to go without eating for multiple months.
Just before we began our crossing of the Strait of Georgia, a mechanical issue arose on Arctic Star that could not be fixed underway. Only an hour out from Nanaimo, we diverted our route for the day. Once at the dock, Brodie our marine technician on board, and Captain Jordan got straight to work diagnosing the issue. The rest of us explored downtown Nanaimo, picked up forgotten provisions at the store, and took the dinghy over to Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park. The park has nice walking trails shaded by old Madrone and Cedar trees with beautiful views of the straight and the Canadian Coastal mountain range.
The Bonum Vitae crew graciously offered to host a happy hour gathering for the group this evening. We gathered on board in the warm evening air and shared drinks, snacks and great company. This has been a very fun group to get to know and it feels like we’ve been cruising together for much longer than just two days. Spirits were high even though we’ll have to stay an extra day in Nanaimo to sort out the mechanical issue.
While flotilla trips are great for many reasons, it is really in times like this when things aren’t going to plan that you see the value in group cruising. Traveling with professional technicians who can quickly hop on board and address an issue makes a potentially very stressful situation feel manageable. The flotilla creates a built-in support network that comes from not just the lead boat but also the larger network of suppliers and specialists along the coast all the way to Alaska that we have worked with for the past 15 years. We are grateful to everyone for their quick responses and to the positive attitude of the Arctic Star crew.