Monday, November 11, 2013

Smugglers Cove to Snug Harbor

It's good to properly plan out times and distances when picking a departure time on a sailboat, especially when a storm is looming in the forecast...and normally we do properly plan this, but this time...well.....maybe not-so-much. At this point we were feeling maybe a little exhausted and maybe a little tired of the rain (which had started back up) so we were a bit lazy and complacent about getting out since we thought our destination was only three hours away. We raised our anchor around 1:00 and set sail in the Strait of Georgia towards Snug Cove on Bowen Island. We beat into the south wind only making about six knots. Progress was slow and we began to fret about our arrival time. When Jason studied the charts closer he discovered that, at eight knots, we would arrive at our destination in five hours which put us in after dark. At this point it became painfully clear that we would not reach our destination if we continued under sail (and we definitely needed to make it to Bowen Island to take refuge from the storm that was due to hit the following day) so we reluctantly turned on the motor and tucked away the sails. After a long day on the water, we watched the sun set as we motored towards Snug Cove just across Howe Sound from the city of Vancouver. By the time we reached our cove, it was pitch black. Following our GPS we inched our way through the dark into the tiny cove. As we entered the harbor we put Isaac on the bow with a big flashlight to help light the way and navigate us to our spot on the dock. We successfully landed without incident and tied up. Though nerve-wracking, it was utterly magical coming in to this aptly named "snug" cove at night. Low-lying clouds shrouded the mountains that marched up from the water and lights from houses on the hillside twinkled through the blanket of fog.

With most of its land set aside as park, Bowen Island is a haven across the water from Vancouver. Our original plan was to spend time hiking the trails that cross the island but, with an overexposure to sogginess in the recent past, the the sirens of the warm coffee shop emerged triumphant and we spent the day snuggled in warm places trying to stay dry. The following day we felt compelled to take a ferry across the sound to Vancouver to explore the city though none of us were too enthusiastic given the wind and the rain. What we really wanted to do was stay in the boat and play Isaac's new board game with mugs of hot cocoa. But....since we were there...we reluctantly left the warmth of the boat to board the ferry. As the ferry pulled away from the terminal we watched Marinero with the chihuahua nestled inside grow smaller and I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. The wind howled, waves crashed and the boys' coats flapped violently as we crossed the water. When we got to the other side we boarded a bus and 45 minutes later were deposited in downtown Vancouver. Our goal was to eat at a yummy Chinese food restaurant and then hit a museum. We walked a half mile through pouring rain and sat down to eat, soaked to our skin. We noticed the conversations around us centered around the storm and overheard one man say that the ferries may stop running. Upon further investigation we found out that, indeed, the ferries were poised to close in the afternoon as the storm ramped up. Doh! We were a ferry ride away from the boat and our chihuahua! We finished lunch as quickly as possible as tears ran down the boys' face from the onion-chopping action in the kitchen and hustled to the nearest bus stop. We arrived to the ferry ticket office in time to get back to Bowen and as I was line-hopping for the best position, I turned around to see Jason with a news camera in his face. I watched as he told the newscaster that we needed to make it back to our boat on Bowen Island to rescue our chihuahua. A super-hero, with a super-story indeed! Luckily we were not stranded, made it back safely to Pika and now have a story about the most-expensive, most-difficult lunch ever. As we ate dinner at a restaurant that evening the wind and rain lashed the winds and the walls shook. On the walk back to marina I watched as a wooden shed was lifted by the wind and thrown over a fence. The slippery docks lurched and rocked under our feet but Marinero kept us safe as the wind howled at thirty knots in our snug little cove. Out in the Strait of Georgia, just a short distance away, the winds were raging at seventy knots. Thank goodness we were not out in that.

Click here for photos.

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