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  • Writer's pictureJaclyn

The Best and Worst Sail of the Summer

...depending on who you asked.

August 25

We left Hornby a little later than anticipated with plans to go to Nanaimo and maybe further to Montague if we could time the pass through Dodd Narrows.

There was enough wind to have the sails up, and we were sailing before we left the bay...still not sailing off the anchor, but we were getting closer. Once we got into the straight, the waves picked up and rolled the boat from side to side. The dogs were less than impressed with this and stayed below in with the blankets piled on the floor. It was tricky to make food, but we had some snacks to hold us over.

Eventually, the wind picked up enough to speed us through the chunky waves and smooth out the ride. We cruised to Nanaimo and decided to call it a night since we wouldn't make it through Dodd Narrows until the morning.

The dogs and their sailing set up. Blankets everywhere.

We had an uneventful night on the edge of the anchorage in Mark Bay and had an early start to make it to Montague to meet our friends.

The following day we got up early to make slack tide at Dodd Narrows. These narrows can run upwards of 8 knots in either direction, and we can only cross them at slack or near slack tide. On top of the current, a narrow dog leg space between two cliffs makes it tough to go through with opposing traffic. By the time we got there, we weren't the only ones waiting to go through. So we slotted in behind some big boats and followed through. Even though we've been through a couple of times, it's still nerve-wracking.

Once through the narrows, we started down Trincomali Channel towards Montague. The winds were picking up and coming straight out of the direction we needed to go. So we close hauled our way onwards. At one point, we had a choice to duck behind Salt Spring Island or head out further into the channel; we (wrongly or rightly, depending on the person) chose the channel. Although we remember this differently, Mark claims I agreed to take the channel instead of the "no wind" option behind Salt Spring. This is where it turns into the best/worst sail of the year.

Mark couldn't be happier at 18 knots, gusting to 26 (33km/hr to 48 km/hr) and bashing into waves. Oh, wait! He could be happier...There's a giant container ship smack dab in the way. Great. We will now spend the next 15 minutes tacking (changing direction by moving all of the sails from one side to the other) in high winds just to get around it. Each time we tacked, the boat leaned from one side to the other speedily, and everything (dogs included) flew from one side to the other. While Mark helms the boat around something 300 times bigger than us, I just death grip the side of the boat and wait for imminent death.

To be clear, I hate sailing upwind. I very much prescribe to the motto "gentlemen (in this case, women) don't sail to weather," meaning I don't want to sail in the direction the wind is coming from. It's uncomfortable and noisy, and the boat leans too far over. I realize the boat can do a total 360 roll, but that doesn't mean I want to experience it.

Anyways, back to the worst sail of the summer. We weren't making much forward progress (remember the whole sailing directly into the wind thing?); we were going back and forth across the channel and maybe gaining a couple hundred meters each time. Mark begrudgingly agreed that he'd just turn on the engine after another hour, and we could motor the rest of the way. I was sent down below because I was ruining his fun with my death gripping of anything on the boat's high side and telling him how we were clearly going to lose the mast and die.

This is the only photo from the sail.

This is where Mark would like to address all the readers to let them know the boat was only heeling to 8 degrees (max 10), and we were perfectly safe the entire time.

After a painfully long 2 hours, the engine was on, and we were finally making progress toward the anchorage. Once there, we put down the anchor and took some time away from the boat to enjoy hearing about our friend's sail back from Hawaii.

The weekend went by quickly, and before we knew it, we were heading back to Vancouver. Before we left Montague Harbour, we swapped the big genoa for our new jib.

Calm after the wind.

There wasn't much wind heading to Porlier Pass, which after the other day, I was okay with. We had a toilet problem, so Mark was busy down below while we went through the pass into the Straight.

Once in the Straight, there was barely enough wind to sail, but we put the sails up anyways. I adjusted our course, so it was an excellent beam reach. Mark decided he was going to "do some work inside"...about 20 minutes later, I peeked down below to find him asleep with the dogs.

Mark doing work.

Oh well, I continued on with the audiobook I was listening to and sailed us home. For me, it was one of the best sails of the summer.

Oh. Another boat! It’s a race! …that Mark slept through.

So it was a win-win for everyone on this trip.

NM sailed: 117



Feb 13, 2023

UGH. Way exaggerated! The only way to learn to sail is to actually sail.


Feb 13, 2023

Funny to read after the fact. But scary at the time❤️

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