A Travellerspoint blog

Gorge Harbour

sunny 60 °F

50 05.983N
125 01.440W


Leaving Grace Harbour was not a difficult decision. There was little to compel our remaining there. When we were getting things sorted out to get underway, I again saw jellyfish, so many that, had they any substance, they would have made a carpet on which to walk. Carol thinks that these are lion’s mane jellyfish; I’m going with moon jellyfish. The latter seems more likely. They do not have much stinging potency, but you will feel them.

Most of the trip, generally north and west, was unremarkable. The usual currents in the Malaspina Inlet, dodge a few islands, skirt a few rocks, and just motor onward. We saw another boat that had its sails out and the windex was showing action off the beam. So out go the sails, a fair amount of work. We might as well have been hanging laundry from the line. There was not even enough wind to move the mainsail and boom to the lee side. In go the sails, even more work than taking them out.

We headed to Gorge Harbour on west side of Cortes Island. The only thing I noted was that along the way, for a while, we had these mountains to starboard and these mountains to port. A pretty nice corridor for a nonce. Of course, we were probably 50 miles or more from either crest line.



In the trip’s early days, I had noted many arrowhead shaped figures on the chart plotter. I didn’t know what they were and was not concerned, I only thought them odd. One day, we were in a remote area there was just us and one of the BC ferries. While watching the ferry, the dawn finally arrived, banishing my benighted ignorance: the arrowhead was the ferry’s AIS, Automatic Identification System. This was just getting more widely used when we sold our boat; we had never encountered it before because our chart plotter was ancient and did not incorporate this feature. This is almost better than radar. You can have your navigation information showing and see most of the boat traffic in your area. I suppose as old units get replaced this service will become universal.

Sunday, June 16th was Father’s Day. While cruising through the Baker Passage, not particularly close to anything at all, Sean called from Chicago and we were able to take the call. I like technology; I like the connected world or most of it anyway. Robo calls I hate. It has seemed bizarre that I am here in Canada, in the outback of the country, and my cell phone has several calls every day from numbers not in my contact list. Carol, however, has not had a similar problem.


A few miles south of Gorge Harbour we saw this distinctive craft. It was about a mile away. It was either a very old boat, close to a century old by design, lovingly restored or, a very new boat custom built to resemble a very old boat and costing multiples more that any similarly sized new boat. All I can say with certainty is that it had AIS which means that its electronics were new.


The area that we are now could easily be the Gulf or San Juan Islands, more than 100 miles south; or, it could be Maine, several thousand miles east. I have a problem, probably not unique, when viewing islands like these. They seem to form a seamless front, the gaps and passages between not apparent to me at the level of the helm. Gorge Harbour is completely behind the land arms that form it; you cannot see any hint of civilization, just a wall of rocky shoreline and green pine trees. Had I not had a specific lon/lat for a waypoint, I most likely would not have found the entrance. The harbour is named for the eponymous entrance, which is called, no surprise, the Gorge, another one of those narrow, high sided passages in which currents play havoc with light, under powered craft, i.e. a sailboat. This picture shows what we saw approaching the entrance. It's like, : "Where's Waldo?" The entrance is there if you can see it.

The Gorge Harbour Marina and Resort is the only thing here, besides a few private homes and a few derelict boats in the harbour. We first went to the fuel dock first to ensure that we have enough diesel fuel for the return trip to Nanaimo, then moored at the marina. Carol wanted a shower to wash her hair. The reason that could not be done on the boat is red-headed logic, not understandable by a regular guy, me for instance. There is a restaurant here after many nights of eating on the boat; a small store to replace the razor I dropped off the stern in Prideaux Haven and for Carol to find many “necessary” things; places where Carol can walk around and meet people; and a laundry. But, wait, There’s more! Carol said that there is a hot tub by the pool. This has my complete attention. I wonder about the logic of some things, though. We are on the marina dock and can fill our water tanks with however much water they can hold; they have a swimming pool and a hot tub, free to guests, which we are. But a guest shower costs $2 Canadian. Go figure!.


This is a wonderful, natural harbor. Were it to be in the Bahamas, or some similar place, it would be rated a primo grade hurricane hole. Here, with a keyhole entrance, not so much of a chance.

Joshua Slocum was the first solo-sailor to circumnavigate the globe and he did it in a boat he built himself. I'm just guessing here but I doubt that Joshua stopped in, say, Cape Town to find a marina with a hot tub. Of course, back then Cape Town actually had water, so he could have and he should have. It is almost impossible not to be relieved of burdens and cares, at least for a while, after a good soaking. Carol had her shower, washed her hair so, she is good. Did laundry, which she hates, but does it anyway. We can go home without looking like homeless people.

I have been working on our route south, putting us on the dock in Nanaimo Thursday evening. There are options, but the forecast is for weather to come through, which, may complicate route planning. Fortunately, the wind will have a north component and we are headed south, so the lament about not enough sailing may prove to be false. One of several issues is that there is only one useful harbor onthe east side of Vancouver Island, Comox, and it is more than 50 nm to Nanaimo, doable, but a very hard day for us.

Posted by sailziveli 16:44 Archived in Canada Tagged boats sea canada cruising sailboats salish

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