Since launching my Kurylko Alaska, “Hornpipe”, last August, I’d only had it out on day sails in protected waters near Victoria, BC. This summer was the first chance to go farther afield, to learn more about the boat and what it was capable of, and to use it more in the way in which I intended when I built it. I decided to enter it in the annual Silva Bay Shipyard RAID http://www.shipyardraid.ca/ . This multi-stage race for rowing and sailing boats starts in Silva Bay on Gabriola Island in British Columbia and ends in Heriot Bay on Quadra Island, some 103 nautical miles (as the crow flies, not as the boat tacks) later. I also decided I would launch the boat 3 days earlier nearer home and row and sail it up to Silva Bay.
Launched at Sidney, BC, on the morning of Wednesday, July 8th, not as soon as I would have liked, in a steady rain and flat calm. The horizon was low and the landmarks like Mt Baker that would be visible on a clear day were invisible. What I could see was the layered effect of a typical rainy west coast day – the nearer landmarks clear, each island or object farther away a little more indistinct until all is lost in the grey. Objective for the first day was Montague Harbour on Galiano Island, 16nm away. Not too many other boaters out that morning except those who had to be because of their work – ferries, tugs and barges, crew boats.
The first test was stemming the ebb tidal current in the “Little Group” Islands just north of Sidney. Couldn’t do it rowing against the current in the first opening I tried and had to find a smaller opening and work the eddies. Finally made it but painfully slowly. Next milestone was getting past Portland Island, which is a marine park. Lots of boats in the favoured anchorage as I rowed past but no one was venturing out in the rain. By this time it was getting on for lunch. Couldn’t afford to stop for long as the tide was still driving me back so grabbed bites of the sandwich between strokes. Saw some Harbour Porpoises as I was eating lunch. They’re shy creatures that spend very little time on the surface and their blow makes very little sound. You have to be up close and it has to be quiet in order to hear it.
The rain finally quit as I started coming abreast of Saltspring Island and the tide was beginning to turn in my favour. Was making better progress but it was nearly 1530 by the time I got to Captain Passage alongside Prevost Island – only 10 miles of the required 16 for the day. But, fortune was in my favour as a light southerly breeze began to rise and within 20 minutes I had all sail set and was broad reaching across the top of Prevost Island and into Trincomali Channel. The wind held right to the dinghy dock at the marine park.
Tied up at the dock for the night as it was just as cheap as picking up a mooring and cheaper than camping ashore. I rigged my tarp-and-batten cover over the boat for the first time and, once the dinghy traffic abated, settled in for the night.