Thursday, April 22
Okay, so 06:00, inverter on, coffee started, out of bed, and yet another beautiful blue sky developing. There was no time to waste because nothing was going to stop us from getting out of here today. By 09:00 almost everything was taken care of except for showers, checking out, and hopefully picking up the barometric damper that we had ordered at the chandlery. While Wendi went for her shower, I warmed up the Garth Monster and fine-tuned the idle speed. I was just finishing up when she got back, and then away I went for mine. Shortly after 10:00 o’clock, we walked into the chandlery to inquire about the damper, but we were too early. “No problem”, we said. “We’ll go to the grubbery store for a few things and come back in a while”. By the time we returned, their morning delivery had been sorted, and our damper was there waiting for us.
As much as we were chomping at the bit to get out of there, we were also purposely dragging our heels as we had tides to consider. It was about 11:45 when we dropped the lines and made for the fuel dock, and 12:15 when we pulled away. There was a bit of a breeze from the north, so as we came out of the marina, while Wendi was still retrieving dock lines and stowing fenders, I was rolling out the heads’l and killing Garth. On the last of the flood tide and with about 10 knots of wind on the stern, we made for Cape Mudge and rounded right on time to catch the ebb to Gorge Harbour. Unfortunately, at the cape, our little breeze faded to under 5 knots, so we fired up the engine and motored around the cape. Once past the cape, the wind, as light as it was, came around onto the stern. “Wanna play with the spinnaker?”, I said. “Sure”, said Wendi. I left Otto to muck about with the rudder in the glassy seas while we attempted to set our spinnaker for the very first time. We had difficulty releasing it from the sock as it was all twisted inside. Once we finally got it out, the wind was even lighter. The sail did sort of fill, though, and we were moving in the right direction as we ploughed through the stillness with our hair straight back at 0.2 knots. The excitement was short-lived, though, and we began to drift aimlessly, so we put it away and called on good old Garth once again.
As non-exhilarating as that was, we can now at least say that we have flown our spinnaker and that we now know that it is bagged correctly and that it is straight in the sock. Next time, we shouldn’t have any trouble.
We motored slowly towards Cortes Island, unsure about passing through the gorge before slack water. We were very early for low tide, so we killed Garth just off Marina Island and drifted while Wendi BBQ’d some steaks and then had dinner. Another sailboat arrived on the scene and also came to a stop. We never spoke with them, but we assumed they were stopping for the same reason as we had. After a while, they began to move very slowly towards the gorge. This provocative move was a clear signal, and I was not about to let it go unchecked. I followed suit, idling towards the gorge. They came to a stop across from us, short of Manson’s landing. Cleverly, I continued to motor slowly, watching their every move. They never moved.
I took the opportunity to make a brief check of the tide tables. For some strange reason, I had it stuck in my head that the tide change would be at 19:02, and the clock was presently reading just after 18:00. When I double checked the tide table, though, I saw that in actuality it wouldn’t be until 21:02. To hell with that! Hammer time! I revved up the old Garth Monster to 1800, and we were off towards the gorge at about four and a half knots. Our nemesis remained still, as though anchored and facing out towards the Strait. I became suspicious of their intent. Just what exactly was their game? I shoulder-checked periodically as though they’d somehow jump us or, worse, beat us to the gorge!
As we neared the gorge, I kept a close eye on our speed over ground, fully expecting to be losing speed. Wendi had checked the Sailing Directions book and found that the current in the gorge runs at 4 knots, and we would be fighting that four-knot current. We approached by keeping Guide Islets to port and giving it a fairly wide berth. My escape plan, in case the current was strong enough to push us back towards the islets, was to run past the islets and out the northwest side of them, then go anchor and wait for slack water. Alas, the gorge was a piece of cake, as I kind of expected, because it’s fairly deep, straight, and short.
We glided up to the dock to see the friendly face of Captain Ev. He and I began chatting as we watched Wendi tie up.
This was our first visit to Cortes Island, and we were very excited to finally be here. Not only have we heard only the very best things about Gorge Harbour over the years, but we have also been Facebook friends for a couple of years with two people there: Captain Ev of YouTube channel “Sailing Morningstar” fame and, through the Corbin39 Facebook group, the manager of Gorge Harbour Marina, Bill, who also has a Corbin 39.
Roughly a half an hour after tying up, while still sitting on the dock talking with Captain Ev and the couple on the boat across from us, our nemesis motored in and tied up on the far end of the dock—where all the losers go.
SAILING INFIDEL: Def. An unbeliever, heathen, pagan, heretic, agnostic, atheist, non-theist, freethinker, libertine, dissenter, or nonconformist of the sailing variety