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Riding the ebb to someplace new

Last night while I was tucking Holly into bed she asked me: “Where are we going to be after breakfast?” She was referring to the fact that nearly every morning for the past week she’s woken up while we’ve been underway and eaten her breakfast in the cockpit while we’ve made our way to someplace new.

Michael and I have been getting up at the crack of dawn each morning to travel north. It’s definitely not my preferred hour of waking but the tides are calling the shots. We’ve been riding the ebb north, through rapids and channels 600 feet deep flanked by peaks thousands of feet tall, making our way to the northern tip of Vancouver Island. Weather permitting, we’ll round Cape Scott this weekend and point our bow south for a good long time.

While we thought that sailing these long stretches (well, truth be told, motoring) would be tedious we’ve all quickly fallen into a comfortable routine. Michael and I wake with the sunrise, have a cup of coffee, haul anchor, then get underway. We get a few hours of traveling in before the girls wake (usually around 9 – the engine is a wonderful white noise generator!) The girls have breakfast and play in the cockpit with us or down below for a few hours and we usually reach our next anchorage by noon and have the afternoon to play and explore. We’ve swam in Pender Harbour, eaten ice-cream in the sunshine in Squirrel Cove in Desolation Sound, hiked around Big Bay singing loudly in case any bears were nearby, visited the 100+ year old store/post office (now museum) in Port Neville and now we are in Alert Bay absorbing thousands of years of Northwest Native culture and history.

Michael and I have been savoring this trip down memory lane. We’ve sailed this way three times now and it’s even more magnificent up here than we remember. Along the way, we came to see it was necessary for us to make this trip around the island after all. We have been getting used to our boat and her routines, learning to work together onboard again, and the girls have been learning what it means to sail full time. We are challenged each and every day by wind, weather, rocks, tides, currents, emotions.

Most of all, each day is absolutely filled with wonder, as we hoped it would be.


  1. Chris W says:

    Enjoying the updates and pictures! Our quick charter in April to the SJI’s reminded us that we’re due to get back and get aboard again, someday soon, but we’re enjoying now, too :).

    1. Sara says:

      Hi Chris! I have really enjoyed reading your updates on FB. Sounds like you are having adventures aplenty!!

  2. Are those Orcas? Awesome post. Glad you’re enjoying your shakedown. The way things are going here we’ll be just about ready to kick back when you glide under the gate.

    1. Sara says:

      That was a school of about 20 dolphins that came to play with our boat for a few minutes. Our first dolphin visit, just awesome!

      You guys are getting so close!! We are getting more excited each day to sail under the gate and meet up with you.

  3. Ingrid Bennett says:

    What an amazing adventure!! I have so been enjoying your stories and pictures. I feel as though I get to know you and your family better with each post. Thanks for sharing this with us- your “step-extended-family-in-law”. 🙂

  4. Paul says:

    Great stuff! Just curious how you are posting? While underway? When you head to shore and use Wifi?

    1. Sara says:

      Hi Paul~ We have been able to connect to open wifi signals from the boat (we bought a super antenna from Amazon that works great, this one: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0000DIET2). We’ve gotten connections from over 2 miles away! However, I’ve done most of our postings (text-only) from our HAM radio onboard via Winlink email.

  5. Walt says:

    I’m so much enjoying your posts, especially since you write (so well) with reflection/insight about cruising with young’uns, and the flexibility that turns ‘surprises’ into yet more adventures. looking forward to hearing (and seeing) posts about your time on Vancouver’s West Coast!

  6. Mike & Jessica Doyle says:

    Dang!!! Look at that, that’s amazing!!!! You’re site is great!!! Jessica and I enjoy going through your site and dreaming about our possible future trip. Congrats to you guys for really doing it!!!!
    Mike, Jessica & Mary 🙂

  7. Tom says:

    We will sail the San Juans in 2 weeks, first timers. You mention sailing north on the ebb, which seems the opposite from what I would have expected.

    You must know something I don’t. Please explain.


    1. Sara says:

      Hi Tom~ inside Van Island north of Desolation the ebb flows north, south of Desolation it flows south. Enjoy your trip!! Beautiful time of year.