Life after Tofino…after we bid farewell to our Belgian clowns*…went by fast.

First we continued to the Broken Group where we enjoyed three anchorages in six days. Then we sailed our longest day yet; 75.4 miles in the infamous Juan de Fuca Strait. It took us 14 hours; 13 of those were in dense fog. The last hour before anchoring in Sooke Inlet we finally could see land and everything else only our radar detected beforehand. The next day we finished our final leg of the west coast of Vancouver Island: Sooke to Victoria.


Looking out from a sea cave on Effingham Island.


The beautiful Broken Group


Paddling around Turtle Island


Our re-entry into civilization really began to take place when we went to the popular Hot Springs Cove just north of Tofino. The farther south we traveled, the more people we saw, but arriving in Victoria and docking directly in front of The Empress Hotel was a bit over the top. The place crawled with tourists. City sights, sounds and smells caused a sensory overload. The first siren we heard nearly made me jump out of my skin. In spite of it all, Clay and I had fun exploring the capital of British Columbia.



Front row parking in front of The Empress

From Victoria, we rounded the bottom of Vancouver Island, past Sidney to Russel Island where we rendezvoused with our friends Ruth and Harold and Harold’s family from Holland. What a fun group! On their recommendation, we went to Clam Bay by Thetus Island, and then over to Irish Bay by Saturna Island.


Alas, we could postpone the inevitable no longer and made the leap across Boundary Pass and checked into U.S. customs in Roche Harbor, San Juan Island. From there we enjoyed a good sail to to Deer Harbor on Orcas Island to visit our friends Bob and Sandy.

A couple days later, we hopped back over to San Juan Island to pick up our son, Chad, and his girlfriend, Ryann. They flew to Seattle, took a shuttle bus to Anacortes, then traveled by ferry to Friday Harbor. We had a blast showing them around Jones and Matia Islands, Mackaye Bay on Lopez Island, Deception Pass State Park on Whidbey Island and then Anacortes.

After logging 2,211.5 miles since May 12 (112 days), Sundown is now tucked back into her slip in the Anacortes Marina, and we’re preparing to fly home to Colorado to visit more family and hopefully a few friends. Of course, I’ll be regrouping with clients, too, as my fall work schedule will ramp up fast.

But don’t think our sailing season is over! My mom is returning to Washington with us and we hope to show her a good time on the water. Then a couple of friends will be aboard for a few days of sailing fun in early October. And who knows? Maybe this winter will be a bit milder and more conducive to getting off the dock. Stay tuned!

*The clowns, Amandine and Quentin, are hitchhiking in the states now bound for Cuba! They stayed with our sons in Fort Collins when they passed through Colorado. We’re glad they could meet the guys they heard so much about. Follow their blog here

by Clay

The west coast of Vancouver Island. I have read about the challenges, remoteness and solitude to be experienced. So far it has been a walk in the park (although we have had excellent weather) and if you like the scenery of logging’s desecration of vast swaths of forest, then the west coast is for you.g


Cape Scott

We rounded Cape Scott and anchored in the northeast section of Winter Harbour, then went around Brooks Peninsula and stopped in Columbia Cove where we found very beautiful sand beaches sprinkled with lots of commercial fishing trash. 


The  forecasted weather called for several days of gales, so we moved to a quaint little anchorage in the Bunsby Islands that we felt would offer better protection. We were welcomed by a wolf family complete with a litter of pups and a bear. We also shared a beach dinner of lingcod and roasted vegetables with our cove neighbors Bob and Dina of s/v Silverado (a scaled down Slocum Spray made famous for the first solo circumnavigation by Joshua Slocum in the late 1800s). Bob is an over achiever who not only learned how to weld so he could build his own aluminum sailboat, but taught himself how to sail as he singlehanded his vessel from Mexico to Hawaii and then Hawaii to Alaska! It was fun spending time with Bob and Dina, and hearing of their adventures.


Quentin, one of our clowns from Belgium, and I fished hard for two days in the wind and sun. We filled the freezer with lingcod. Amandine and Quentin made a video of my fishing exploits. Check it out here.



Next, we went in search of food, fuel and water in Tahsis, BC. Unfortunately, the smoke from mainland wild fires was so thick that it obscured the view of the surrounding mountains.


Smoke in Tasis Inlet

We choose Tahsis due to the high praise given to its Westview Marina by Waggoner’s Cruising guide. We won’t go there again. First, as we approached the fuel dock, the waiting attendant said she’d been trying to hail us on VHF06 to see if we had a reservation and wondered why we didn’t answer. Kim replied that we monitor VHF16, as all mariners are required to do. That seemed like news to the attendant.

Next, after spending nearly $150.00 for fuel and fishing gear, Kim was told by the owner that she couldn’t fill our water tanks at the dock because there was a small power boat waiting (which pulled in behind us and filled up without a problem). Kim replied that she was handed the water hose by his attendant, at which point the owner went inside and chewed out the staff who then came back outside to Kim and said we needed to move to a different dock to complete filling up with water. Apparently our spending $150.00 didn’t qualify us as elite paying customers. So while Waggoner’s touts Westview Marina as being cruiser friendly, I would guess any vessel longer than our 41’ boat better have bow thrusters to maneuver inside of their breakwater. We backed out without an issue, but I would not recommend this marina to anyone but recreational fisherman and small fishing boats. Waggoner’s has let us down in the past with information that supported their advertisers over unbiased accuracy; they failed us this time also.


Next stop: Hot Springs Cove and its popular hot springs which provided a welcome warm bath and our first encounter with real civilization again since leaving Nanaimo back in May. The down side is there are a lot of fast boats and planes coming in and out of the cove during the daylight hours hauling crowds of tourists. So if you want to bathe with at least a couple dozen of your closest friends, you’ll enjoy that spot.

From there, we bumped over to Tofino to celebrate BC Day with the locals. We made some repairs to the autopilot and cleaned house. We also say goodbye to our friends Amandine and Quentin who took to the road again to hitchhike to Cuba. We will miss their company, but will also enjoy our first real time together all summer!DSCN3735

Next up: the south end of Vancouver Island, Juan de Fuca Strait and Victoria!



He says: So…I saw a flyer down by the dock about a couple of clowns from Belgium who are looking for a ride south on a boat.

She says: Yea, I saw the same flyer in the laundry mat. What do you want for dinner? I’m hungry.

He says: I met and talked with them for about 40 seconds. What do you think?

She says: I think a salad would taste good.

He says: No. About giving them a ride.

She says: What? Are you serious? That would be kind of CRAZY! We don’t know these people. They could be drug addicts or worse. And the boat is small. What about everyone’s hygiene habits and needs?

He says: Yea and we couldn’t exactly kick them off the boat if it doesn’t work out; we’ll be in the middle of nowhere for days. 

She says: Well…God knows we have enough food aboard; we won’t run out of that.

He says: And this could be another opportunity to share what God’s blessed us with.

She says: Okay, at the very least, let’s buy these kids dinner and get to know them a bit.

Thus began the latest leg of our adventure with two clowns aboard Sundown. Continue Reading »

So before this season’s adventure began, a friend of mine said, “Why do you want to go cruising? You will get bored.” Ha! I am neither bored nor tired of living on a sailboat and cruising! What a life! We make day-to-day travel decisions based on the weather, which is always exciting. And given we travel on a sailboat, we strive to move with the wind to save on fuel and to reduce our carbon footprint. Continue Reading »


Look at our route through Haida Gwaii.

The rain beating on Sundown’s canvas biminy sounds like a rolling snare drum. As gale and storm force winds blow through Hecate Strait, we’re nestled in Gordon Cove on Moresby Island surrounded by forests and snowcapped peaks. A curious seal pops up to look around at visiting boats—ours, Chris’ (our boating buddy) and a couple others, also here to hide from the weather outside, I’m sure. Continue Reading »


Haida (hI-duh) = the people
Gwaii (gw-eye) = islands
Haanas (hah-nus) = beautiful

Heck, Hecate Strait in the right conditions is a piece of cake! Using all the navigation and weather tools at our disposal, we timed our crossing of this infamous piece of water perfectly. Continue Reading »


Where in the world are we? Look here.

With weather still in our favor, we left Shearwater on Sunday, May 28, for “The Outside” (a.k.a. the eastern edge of the north Pacific Ocean). We sailed across Milbanke Sound and up the west side of Price Island (we’re pretty sure it was named for our friends Larissa and Jim). Along the way, we passed McInnes Island, a weather reporting station we hear about on VHF; it’s fun to see the places named on the radio. Continue Reading »

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