The sun burst through the clouds as we motor-sailed into a strong current between tiny islets in the Gulf Islands. Once clear of the islands and out in Boundary Pass, the wind started pipping up and we easily made the decision to fly our spinnaker. There’s nothing like a good spinnaker run and we always tell ourselves that the sail is onboard for a reason — it does no good stored down below.
With the big blue sail rigged and flying, Yahtzee took off like a shot and we hugged the Canadian side of the Pass heading eastward towards the corner of Saturna Island. After an hour or so of smooth sailing, the clouds behind us turned dark and we could sense a squall was building that would soon overrun us. It did, but we were able to pull the spinnaker down and stow it before the majority of the wind and rain hit.
After rounding East Point on Saturna and turning into Tumbo Channel, we fought the last of the ebb while watching bald eagles soar overhead. A few miles up the channel, we made our turn through a reef and came into a small bay between Cabbage and Tumbo Islands, which are part of Canada’s Gulf Islands National Park. Ten empty mooring buoys awaited and we had our pick of the litter.
We spent the better part of two days moored between the islands and Cabbage quickly became one of our favorites in all of the Gulf Islands. Small and low-lying, the island is ringed by diverse beaches that range from fine sand to small pebbles and hard sandstone. The sand, of course, was perfect for the boys beach toys and we spent a gloriously sunny morning digging and then hiking around the island.
There are no true hiking trails on Cabbage Island, so the best way to explore it is to walk around the perimeter. This walk is best done at low tide, as there is more beach exposed, but we did it at both high and low tides and felt that each offered a completely different experience.
The middle of the island is made up of marshes with stands of Madrona (Arbutus), Garry Oak and Douglas Fir trees interspersed throughout. And the island’s flora is an important nesting site for black oystercatchers and bald eagles — we saw many of the latter, and even woke up to them chattering in the trees above us. Except for the birds, seals and an occasional freighter passing in the distance, there were no other signs of life on or around Cabbage Island, which was mainly due to the time of year. But with 10 mooring buoys and space to anchor, I’m betting this place would be a zoo at the height of summer.
Exploring new places is one of our favorite parts of cruising, and we’re typically happy to intentionally bypass a spot so that we can come back to discover it later. Cabbage Island was one of those locales, and it is certainly a place that we’ll return to again and again — especially in the offseason.