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  • Jaclyn

The Nanaimo Curse Strikes Again

July 16, 2022

We’ve got a weird draw that keeps us returning to Nanaimo. Neither of us particularly like the city, and the anchorage is just ok. But here we are again on the way over for the weekend on a last-minute trip.

We weren’t planning on going out this weekend but got a message from our American buddies who would be passing by with their sailboat. We figured it’s a short(ish) sail, so we might as well head over for the weekend and see them on their stop up North. It was agreed to meet in Nanaimo...Great.

Again, we left pretty early (not early enough) and thought we’d get to Nanaimo at a reasonable hour knowing it’s about 7 hours to sail over. Except there wasn’t much wind, and we didn’t want to motor over, so we sailed. Very slowly. Our friends once called us to see if we were still coming. We were, just slowly.


About halfway across, while I was totally (not) paying attention, I heard a loud ”pfft.” It scared the shit out of me, and I was sure something just broke on the boat. Then I heard it again. Shit. We’re sinking; I know it!!!! ….okay, we weren’t. I happened to look over the side of the boat, and there was a porpoise swimming beside the ship. Phew, we weren’t sinking. Instead, I yelled for Mark (sleeping) to get up here ASAP. He comes running up, thinking something’s wrong. Nope. Just a lonely porpoise swimming around the back of the boat. The little guy must have felt bad for how slow we were going and thought we needed a show. Eventually, he got bored and moved on. I can’t say how the rest of the sail was because this was the highlight.

We finally made it to Nanaimo, and the anchorage was a bit fuller than last. Since we aren’t the best at anchoring, we wanted lots of room, and that wasn’t going to happen. Once we found a suitable spot, we went to drop the anchor and....nothing happened. The chain was tangled up in the locker. Mark tried to untangle it on the fly, but it would need a couple of hands to get it sorted. We motored over to the moorings and just grabbed whatever was open. Our friends came over to help sort out the chain. We stayed on the mooring because moving at this point just seemed like a hassle.


Cue the curse of Nanaimo about now. We put the dinghy in the water, visited our pals, and headed to the brewery. Remember that brand-new outboard we bought? Yeah. It died. They ended up towing us over to Nanaimo. By the time we were heading back to the boat, the engine had started again (we should have known better than it fixing itself), and we zipped back to the ship.


Our Friends were heading to the Sunshine Coast the next day, but we opted to stay in Nanaimo before returning to the city on Tuesday.

Disclaimer on the next part: We should know better.

The, and by the mean all, forecasts looked great. Enough wind in the right direction was forecast, and we likely could sail the entire way to the mouth of the river. So did we get fuel? We thought about it, but the fuel dock had a lineup, so we didn’t. You can probably guess where this story is going by now.

We motored out to the straight, and the water was flat. So flat we might as well have been floating in a pool. Oh, and there was no wind. Not even a puff of it. No big deal, there will be wind somewhere, we were sure, so we kept motoring towards home.

After about 2 hours in, things weren’t looking good. There was still no wind, and the fuel gauge rapidly went down. By this point, we were worried. We figured we might make it home. We toyed with the idea of detouring to Gabriola for fuel but decided against that option. So we motored on. We were halfway across now. No wind. I had the binoculars out, looking for any signs of wind. Nothing. Not a ripple could be seen anywhere in our vicinity.

Another hour went by, and we were down to less than a quarter of the tank left (keep in mind we don’t know if that’s 15 or 8 gals). We did some quick calculations and might squeak into the marina or false creek for fuel.

Finally, we got some wind. Enough to slowly push the boat along. But by the time we got to the mouth of the river, the fuel gauge was bouncing between 10% and 2%. We figured the waves were just the problem, and we probably had the 10%. So we motored on and up the river. Thankfully the tide was going in, so we weren’t fighting the current. We sputtered into the marina on 0% fuel. Phew.

We should have just waited in line for the fuel.


NM Sailed: 70

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