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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Day 5: Dodd Narrows, Milltown Sailing’s Rocking Reciprocals & Midnight Marauders


July 4th: Thetis Island to Nanaimo
Sailing through Dodd Narrows, just outside Nanaimo


We took leave from Thetis at 9:30 am, in plenty of time to queue up to pass through Dodd Narrows at the 11 am “slack tide.”  Slack tide is that brief mellow period in between when the current is neither coming in, nor going out, so the boat is neither pushed nor pulled by the current.  This brief, twice-a-day window is the time when boats take turns passing through the narrow opening where the (non-slack) current normally makes boat control challenging.  Before each boat passes, they radio ahead to the Coast Guard “traffic control” for permission.


Nanaimo Yacht Club's marina
We landed in Nanaimo at half past noon.   Showers! Laundry! Provisioning! Internet access (too much, but it was good)!  Nanaimo offered it all!  Best of all, mooring at the Nanaimo Yacht Club was free, thanks to our Milltown Sailing Club membership and a reciprocal agreement between the clubs. 

A Shameless Plug for Sailing Clubs
For anyone either interested in learning sailing or in cruising, sailing clubs rock!  Club members are often looking for crew to help out on races, and many boat captains eagerly embrace folks who don’t own a boat and even those who’ve never sailed before.  If you’re a warm body, willing to show up with a good attitude, listen, and learn, you’ll most likely be welcomed with open arms.

Why “My” Milltown Sailing Club Rocks
We attended a couple Milltown Sailing club meetings at the Milltown clubhouse even before we bought our boat.  We really appreciated how friendly, safety conscious and generous with excellent information everyone was.  Membership was very affordable ~$250 / year, and it also enabled us to moor for free at a number of nice places, like Nanaimo Yacht Club, thanks to mutual agreements between clubs.  To my surprise, Milltown’s Rick Hunter not only invited me to crew his boat on a race, he even invited me back!  Linda Albert graciously drove when we attended the Seattle Women’s Seminar together.  Her husband, Grant, taught the LifeSling class for free to anyone interested.  Tony Sitz, with over 40 years sailing experience, currently adding sailmaking to his already extensive skill set, came by our boat and told us what we needed to make her more ship-shape.  On another occasion, Tony spent a couple hours checking out a local potential cruising boat and afterward reviewing with us what to look for in our cruising boat.  Another club member, Slavek Michalowski loaned us 500 feet of ½” floating line for our stern tie (more about that in a later post).  When we went on a club weekend cruise to nearby Hat Island (private island, but a hosting club member’s ownership of island property made it possible), another club couple, Dave and Laurie Motter, loaned us hundreds of dollars worth of charts and guidebooks for our Desolation Sound trip.  “We loved it, and aren’t making it there this summer.  Have a great time, and just return this when you come back and tell us about your trip,” they said, handing over a foot-tall stack of invaluable information. 

Bottom line:  Milltown Sailing Club and our fellow members have been very, very good to us.  We feel honored to be allowed to hoist our Milltown bergie (membership flag) when we set sail in St. Lucia and look forward to finding ways to pay the club’s kindness to us, forward.

Midnight Marauders
sailing to desolation sound nanaimo canada
There were two of these "masked men"
at the Nanaimo marina
On my way back from my late-night Nanaimo Clubhouse internet session, I stumbled across a pair of well-fed, bright-eyed raccoons (this is an iStock photo – I was not that quick with my camera!).  When I got back to our boat, I pulled Wayne out of the salon to check out the gorgeous near-full harvest moon.  Fresh provisions, clean laundry, showers, catching up on email and a marvelous moonlight night.  Good way to end the day, and our Nanaimo stay, even if it was a little weird to spend Independence Day in another country, without any fireworks fanfare.