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  • Mark

Orcas, Sea Snakes, and Stern ties

There was a porpoise too, but meh. 😂

So in a fit of mega creativity we went Gambier Island again, choosing to settle on Halkett Bay this time. It ended up being a very light wind day. We did some sailing but ended up motoring into the bay.

Halkett bay is a bay on the Eastern edge of Gambier with a marine park. There’s a small anchorage at the head of the bay, with room to anchor traditionally as well as some stern tie options on both the East and West sides. We chose the quieter East side since we were still anchoring novices.

Not a bad spot for the weekend.

This trip’s goal was stern tying, I was told by my research assistant, Jaclyn, that this is a must learn skill for BC cruising. To the internet for some stern tying research and Sailing Virgins for the win again! I mean they got to use a Palm tree, but it’s basically the same.

okay, back to the trip. Here’s how it went: I scaled up a muscle-encrusted beach, forgot how to tie knots, looked embarrassed and then dinghyed back to the boat….I then spent the next hour wondering if my neighbour was uncomfortable with my knot tying. I did consult my knot book and head back to fix the mess…It only took three trie to sort the right knot out.


We bought some stand up paddleboards earlier that week and the warm water made the perfect practice ground. After a couple spins around the anchorage, it was time to see if the dogs wanted in on the fun. After lots of coaxing and cheering from the other cruisers, Sprockett begrudgingly got on the board. He didn’t like it. Taj preferred to stay deep in the V berth sleeping over risking a ride on the paddleboard.

This is Sprocket’s “Why did you put me on this you thing you asshole?” face. I was fully prepared to be revenge kicked in the back all night by that little guy.

The anchorage was nice and calm, there was hardly any boat traffic and very little in the way of wake from boats in the channel. Although it was a hot weekend, the anchorage itself was pretty quiet. The campround, however, was full all weekend. The water was warm and we enjoyed some great sunset swims.

Speaking of the maring park, there was a great little dinghy dock that always had room to park on. The dogs are becoming quite the dinghy dogs, they jump in and out from the boat and the dock. Exploring the beach and hiking trail got them some excellent exercise. Our only wish was that there was more hiking in the park. There was only one trail and it was pretty short.

The sealife around the bay was plentiful this weekend. Jaclyn found an otter eating crabs on the back of someone’s boat one morning. There were seals cruising around all weekend. We could have gone without seeing the sea snake though. Seriously we saw a snake swim up to the boat. No one seems to believe me but it happened, I was worried he was going to get into the exhaust pipe. This link is for the people who doubted us.

The best sea life sighting were the orcas. No biggie. I was minding my business paddling around when I noticed people starting to stare across the water. I figured they were looking at the girls on the party boat that had pulled in but then I saw something. It was like the first time I saw a Moose in the woods at night. It was so strange, oddly shiny and big I wasn’t able to comprehend what I was looking at. An orca’s dorsal fin had popped up about 50 meters front of me. It was huge!!! I immediately started paddling to get closer, yelling to Jaclyn to come with me. There was no way Jaclyn was getting closer and I’m pretty sure I heard “F**** NO” as she went in the other direction. It was pretty cool, we saw mom and baby swim around for about 10 minutes before heading back out.

Halkett Bay Anchorage


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