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Desolation Sound Cruise: Vancouver (northbound)


Salt Spring sunset

Cast off a 0930 to make the transit of Porlier Passage, which needed to be timed to match slack tide because of strong currents. As we approached we spied several vessels of our fleet making the same transit. Once through without incident, we settled in for a long two hour crossing of the Strait of Georgia, with our prow pointed towards a headland behind which lay the city of Vancouver. The Strait is a major commercial waterway, so we kept our eyes on several tankers headed northbound to the same destination.

Vancouver’s skyline rises from behind a large bay, on other side of a high-span bridge, and our particular marina (the docks of the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club at Coal Harbor) lay just shy of the city in a small inlet. The docks were a haphazard collection of slips, metal sheds, and wharfs, seemingly assembled organically over the years without a recognizable plan; so after I turned the helm over to Glenn for close-in work (his name is, after all, on the charter agreement), we poked around trying to find the slip number we had been given. It took some time to realize it was in one of the covered sheds, with a sign so minuscule it couldn’t be seen until you were nearly on top of it. Unfortunately it also put us in a crosswind and cross current to enter, so it took a bit of helmsmanship and some shouting to get inside. Once there, in a ramshackle building of plastic-covered planks and corrugated metal siding, we hunted for fresh water spigots and hosed off the boat.


John Berg (L) and Bob Eichler (R) at the RVYC

1730 sharp we presented ourselves, blazered and tied, at the bus for transport downtown to the proper RVYC clubhouse. Inside we registered, picked up our name tags and canvas cruise bags, and mingled with members of the three participating clubs. I found myself discussing the castle of the Royal Yacht Squadron with a fellow named Doug Adkins, who had written a book on Dorade (now owned by Matt Brooks) and who was scheduled to speak about it to NYYC in October and later to the RYS.

As the sun began to set, two scarlet-jacketed members of the RCMP lowered the Canadian and American colors from the flagstaff outside, as we all stood to attention. We then sat to dinner, and to my surprise the two Mounties were given seats next to me – apparently a long tradition of the Van. I spent the dinner deep in conversation with the two of them, who besides being male and female, turned out to be husband and wife to boot. They were charming and knew nothing about boating, so the chatter revolved around everything but.

After speeches, dinner, and dessert, we broke up, and a fleet of taxis appeared to take us back to our point of origin. I sadly discovered that my magnetic NYYC blazer patch had chosen to remain in Vancouver. We were exhausted, sated, and ready for bed, so instantly we all went below to dream of Desolation Sound and points north.


Mounties – husband and wife