July 3rd: Roche Harbor to Bedwell, Pender Island to Telegraph Harbour, Thetis Island
The Good: Sunshine and Easygoing Customs Agents
Rested and more relaxed, we left not just the country, but also the bad weather as we entered Canada. Satisfied kitties, we basked in the sunshine and clear skies at Poet’s Cove, Bedwell Harbor, Pender Island.
Bedwell Harbour, Pender Island, Canada
Bedwell is a Canadian customs check-in point. It’s not a face-to-face checkpoint; Wayne had a pleasant conversation with the customs folks over their phone. While he let them know we did indeed have more than the 2 liters / person allowed for duty-free alcohol, they didn’t seem to mind, and opted to neither inspect us nor levy any payment to make up for the overage. Had we known that even cheap store-bought Canadian beer was $2/can, we would’ve brought more!
Bedwell’s a pleasant place, with attractive shops, restaurants and a resort hotel, but our plans beaconed us North, onward to Desolation Sound.
Anchoring & Other Alternatives
Eventually, we were done for the day; we pulled into Thetis Island’s Telegraph Harbour. We had to decide whether to tie off at the dock at one of the two marinas, tie off at a mooring ball, or anchor. When a boat stops off for a rest, there are generally three options on how to secure the boat, so it stays put, rather than drift aimlessly or crash into another boat or equally damaging object. Otherwise, it would be like shifting your car into neutral, taking your hands off the wheel, and not applying the brakes, only unlike when you’re on terra firma, the water, moves – a lot! For non-boaties, here’s how the boat “time outs” work:
1.Tie off at a dock. From there, boaters just step off the boat onto the dock. Usually cruisers (boaters using the boats like a mobile home or camper to travel from) dock at marinas, where the docks attach to the shore, and there’s all kinds of conveniences… toilets, showers, gas for the boat, a local grocery store, a laundymat…. Some docks function more like a transit centers. There, boaters get onto a smaller boat, to get to a place their boat might be too big to get to, or board a bigger ship, like a ferry. The more wealthy or lucky, might instead tie off at a private dock near their own special home, vacation home, resort, etc.
2.Tie off on a mooring ball. A mooring ball is kind a big buoy, but designed specifically for boats to tether themselves to by attaching a rope (“line”) from one part of the boat, running the line through a ring at the top of the mooring ball, then back to the boat to tie off.
3.Anchor by dropping one or more anchors, attached to the boat by line made of rope and / or chain, then lowered into the water until the anchor hits and attaches to the bottom. Some extra line or chain is let out before the final anchor tie at the boat. This extra line, about 3x or more of the length it took for the anchor to reach bottom, accommodates some natural expected movement of the boat while at anchor. That way, when tides, winds, waves or current move the boat, the anchor doesn’t become so taunt it yanks up from the bottom. The trick is finding an anchorage deep enough so the boat won’t run aground or get landlocked at low tide, yet isn’t so deep that it takes more line or chain than the boat has to safely secure the anchor. Also, it’s important that the anchor settles bottom material is anchor-friendly, like soft mud rather than impenetrable rock or fragile coral, and that we don’t anchor too close to another boat or other hard surface.
The Bad: Bathroom? That will be $1.30/foot
Telegraph Harbour dock, Thetis Island
We opted for low-budget, and tied off at a mooring ball, a short dinghy paddle to Telegraph Harbour’s conveniences. A regular toilet (versus our “marine head” more about that in a future post) and a shower (not an option on our boat – sponge baths or wipees are our strategy for smelling fresh for those days between showers) sounded great! Using the bathroom is free at most marinas, and showers are typically $1-3 for each 3-5 minutes. At Telegraph Harbour, however, making money is clearly more important than making nice.
We paddled our dinghy up to the dock to find out where the bathrooms were and what we owned for the mooring ball and what it would cost to tie off at the dock. “Bathrooms are for marina guests only,” the 20-something year-old kid at the marina informed us. “Showers are for marina guests only. Mooring costs $1.30/foot. We don’t own the mooring ball you’re tied off to.” Any question we asked thereafter was answered with “Mooring costs $1.30/foot,” whether the answer was relevant or not, such as “Is it high or low tide?” We might have opted to tie off at the dock, but dislike like being treated like a wallet. Instead took the risk that the owner of the private mooring ball we tied off at would not show up and kick us off.
Corny or not, we love walking hand in hand
Wayne knows it’s a good idea to make sure I get my daily “walkies” in, and it was a beautiful eve for it. From the marina, we walked a couple miles in gently rolling hills, enjoying the lovely mix of woods, coast and rural neighborhoods. We found out the other marina also restricted the use of its bathrooms and showers to paying marina guests, too, though at $1.15 / foot mooring was a little less. Still, we were pleased with our free mooring. We did, however, enjoy a beer and learned about a local artery-hardening dish of french fries, topped with gravy and cheese. We opted out, deciding instead to hang in there and eat our own stuff. As I at last explosively released my torrent of liquid relief in the pub bathroom, I realized there was no toilet paper! I could’ve gone in the woods much earlier for the same amenities. At my prompting, the roll was refilled before Wayne used the facilities. Added to my list: bring wipees on walkies and add a “she pee” system to our future supplies list.
Sunset from our mooring ball in Telegraph Harbour Canada
We enjoyed a lovely sunset, and a good night’s sleep.We wanted to be ready to tackle the carefully timed passage through “Dodd Narrows” en route to our next day’s destination, Nanaimo.
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