Night Sails, City Life, and Bye
May 24, 2023
After leaving Pender, we started making our way back to the City. My last days of work were coming up, and then I had a flight to catch back to New Brunswick for a quick visit. Mark wasn't finishing work for another couple of weeks, but he wanted to be in the City to see friends and coworkers. So off we were headed.
We made a couple of stops - one really - to Montague for a night. We were heading to Decourcy for a night before crossing the Straight to False Creek. When we got to Decourcy, it was just a bit too full. We looked at each other and said, "Why don't we just go to the Sunshine Coast now?".
Okay. There were several reasons not to go to the Sunshine Coast. It was already dinner time, and we'd need to wait for slacktide to cross into the straight. We'd be sailing through the night. There was a decent wind forecast. So weighing all the reasons not to go, we decided to go for it.
So we floated around for an hour, waiting for slack tide at Gabriola. By the time we crossed into the Straight, the wind had died completely, and the sun was starting to set. It was pretty, but the forecast wind wasn't showing up. So we motored on.
It got darker and darker and darker. The wind just never materialized. So we motored on.
Being out in pitch black with nothing but the moon, the glow from Vancouver, and the occasional ferry was pretty cool. I swear I heard some whales, but I can't confirm that there were any.
We started seeing more debris in the water when we were getting close to Gibsons. I watched as best I could at the bow, and we dodged several trees. We did take a hit from a log. At the time, it sounded like we hit a massive tree. Afterwards, we checked the bottom of the boat and couldn't see any damage or marks. It was likely reasonably small.
Coming into the anchorage at Keats was hard. It was dark and clouded over. We thought the mooring balls had reflective tape like the others we'd recently been to. Nope. Not in the least. They are little yellow lumps that barely poke out of the water. We could hardly see them until we were on top of one.
Additionally, most boats didn't have anchor lights on, so it was hard to see them. Did I mention our light was running out of power? Cool cool cool.
At about 2 AM, we got tied up, took the dog to shore and went to bed. We were both glad to have sailed in the dark. The conditions were benign, so it wasn't scary. Check that one off the list.
The downside of the late-night sail was how tired we were the next day. It was like being hungover. We were grouchy and just wanted a burger. So off to Gibsons, we went. Had some burgers and then went back to the boat for a nap (or several). I don't think we left the boat much that day other than taking Sprocket to shore.
But our ultimate destination was False Creek. So off we went again. False Creek is the anchorage we'd avoided since owning a boat. The novelty of anchoring downtown seemed exciting, but we just kept hearing that it was too crowded with derelict boats and crime-y. Just generally gross. Ultimately it was going to be the most convenient place to be. We agreed we'd give it a go. If it was too full or we didn't like it, we'd stay overnight and retreat back to the Sunshine Coast.
Finally, after the no-wind-a-palooza that was the night sail, we had 10 knots to get us back to the City. It was coming from the wrong direction, which told us we needed to tack back and forth for 8 hours just to go the 4-hour trip. But it was worth it.
Coming into False Creek is a bit of a gong show. Jet skis and little speedboats are zipping around English Bay. Paddleboarders and kayakers, oblivious to everything, are leisurely floating along in the traffic channels. Mega yachts are making their way into Coal Harbour. It is just a lot.
We passed by the first anchoring area to find boats rafted up. The critics were right; it was a derelict City anchorage. There were a couple of nice ships, but the overwhelming majority looked abandoned, or like they'd seen better days. We kept going. Ultimately we squeezed ourselves in by the Spyglass dock. A handful of boats were in the area, most were liveaboards, and the other two looked to be in decent condition. Besides the fact that they were a close 14 meters away, we felt okay...as long as the wind didn't get too crazy. We did it. We were anchored in the City. And it wasn't bad.... okay. We did have to re-anchor, and when the anchor came up, it was full of garbage. So basically, the boat was held down by some plastic bags and an old shoe. But it held through the gales that Mark sat through over the next two weeks.
I must admit that being in the middle of the City has its perks. All the tasty food was within walking distance, work was close, and I had the added benefit of having showers (unlimited water!). We spent the week before I left enjoying all of the city things. Sprocket didn't mind it either; lots of dogs to bark at, and visiting his pal, Milo, was an added treat.
Fast forward another week. Even though it rained nearly every day, I had a great time in New Brunswick. Mark spent a sweltering and windy week in False Creek....maybe at some point, he'll recap what it's like being the largest boat in a tiny anchorage in consecutive gales.
Once I was back onboard, all we had left was to load the boat with food and fuel and then say goodbye to our friends. We booked a few nights at a marina to make getting everything done easier and having people visit.
We said our goodbyes and had one last "Vancouver dinner", as Cindi would put it, and motored away from the City for the last time.
NM sailed: 75