When I woke in the five o’clock hour, my head stayed on the pillow but my mind was on deck — already out on the Pacific. I listened for a few minutes, opened my eyes and looked out of the port above my head. The sky was gray and rainy, our fifth day in a row. I envisioned climbing out of Yahtzee’s companionway, starting the engine, weighing anchor and setting the sails in the soggy morning to head out on the ocean. And just like that, I was up.
No matter what the weather is, though, I approach each day with the same amount of optimism and zeal as the next. You can’t change it, so why worry and complain about it? But on this morning, I was sure that as we set out to sail around the Brooks Peninsula and for points farther south, we’d be in for sunshine and a taste of glorious Pacific Northwest summer weather.
How sweet it was for that to come true … mostly.
Round the Brooks
When we cleared the reef and rock strewn mouth of Quatsino Sound, the Pacific Ocean sprawled out before us and a moderate northwesterly breeze had Yahtzee bounding south with the swell. We soon had the spinnaker up and, just I’d hoped, patches of blue sky began to break through ahead of us near the peninsula. The closer we got to Cape Cook, Solander Island and the Brooks, the more the clouds were ripped apart by the peninsula’s tall green mountains, as if to welcome us on around.
Sunshine washed over the deck as we sailed in company of all manner of sea birds, including beautiful Tufted Puffins, and when we dropped the anchor in Columbia Cove on the southeast corner of the peninsula, we basked in the warm air and beautiful azure sky. Ashore we found a sandy beach to plunge our toes into and took a dip in the warm, clear water. This was the weather we’d been waiting for, but a falling barometer warned that we’d have one more test before getting it back in earnest.
That night the wind switched to the south and picked up. Clouds soon moved in and with them came the rain. By morning a deluge was upon us that lasted throughout the day, washing Yahtzee’s decks and keeping the crew below. We made the best of our time by cooking, doing art and then getting out for a quick romp ashore towards the end of the day. And as we did, the barometer began rise, signaling the passage of the quick-moving low and the arrival of sunnier, settled weather over the next few days.
Endless Summer in the Bunsbys
Sure enough, when it was time to move on from Columbia Cove to the nearby Bunsby Islands, the sun was again breaking through the clouds. After a brief stint of fishing but no catching, we wove our way through tiny islets, rocky outcroppings and tree-covered islands to find a perfect spot to tuck in and enjoy summer. With the anchor and stern tie set in our own secluded cove, we flung open Yahtzee’s hatches and lockers, brought out wet gear, clothes and sails to dry and all of us seemed to take a great big sigh of relief at the glorious sun-filled day.
To continue the warm up and dry out, we opted for a beach fire that evening on the banks of a nearby lagoon. Aside from devouring s’mores, the boys played in the water, paddled around in the kayak and threw rocks as Jill and I relaxed and chatted, reveling in the moment.
On our way into the islands, we noticed a beach set among the rocks that we were determined to find, so the following morning we set out in the kayak and dinghy to do just that. Weaving our way back out through the islands over waving forests of kelp and reefs teeming with sea life, we came upon a beautiful white sand and shell beach protected from the nearby ocean swell.
Strung between rocks and islets like a pearl necklace and backed by tall, green mountains on one side and the expansive, blue Pacific Ocean on the other, the beach was exactly what we were looking for and more. A beachcomber’s paradise was there to explore and we spent the morning tromping through tide pools immensely full of life, enjoying a snack on our beach blanket, climbing over rock formations, swimming in the gin clear water, and picking mussels and nodding onion (similar to green onion) to add to our dinner menu.
We didn’t want to leave, but needing to commence with the boys’ naps and lunch, we rowed and paddled for home. Along the way we decided that the beach was too good to enjoy just once and that we’d come back in the afternoon to continue the fun. When we returned, the sun was higher overhead and it lit up the water in a way that was reminiscent of places we’d cruised to in the Bahamas and Caribbean. The mountains, too, reminded us of the Caribbean or Hawaii and we had to pinch ourselves for a moment to come back to reality. This was truly one of the most beautiful places we’ve been on our journey around Vancouver Island.
Our time in the Bunsby Islands was like one of those perfect summer days that you don’t want to end. But as it goes in cruising, the tide and weather were forcing our hand, and we reluctantly needed to move on.