This is a traditional Langley Squadron rendezvous weekend, this year meeting up and group rafting together behind Goat Island, in Ganges Harbour on Saltspring Island. Unfortunately, Megan got scheduled to work one shift, right in the middle of the weekend, so she couldn't come along this time. By the time we got the truck loaded up (first cruise of the season, so lots going down) it was 9:30 before we managed to get away. The land crossing we drive through to get to our boat had the longest/slowest line up that I recall ever experiencing that night, and it was after 10:30 by the time we made it to the boat. There were other prep items to take care of, and given it was the first crossing of the season, we had already decided we wouldn't be leaving till mid Sat. morning (to time slack tide at Active Pass). But, we were down on the boat, so all was good.
We set off after final boat prep, topped up the fuel tanks and got away from PRM on schedule. There was a nice 8kt breeze out of the SE, so we set our headsail and began motor-sailing, as we had a fixed arrival time required. I stored the tender off the stern of the boat over the winter, and left it there for this trip. With a building following sea however, the RIBs tube began getting grabbed by the waves and bouncing around on our stern. So midway across the Strait, we spun head to wind, with Lisa at the helm, I secured the dinghy painter line, and deployed it off the stern. Much better. The wind built to 12-14 its, which was great for us; last year, we either had <8kts or >20, so getting everyone aquatinted and comfortable with mid-teen sailing was my early goal for this season.
We were a little behind schedule now, but continued on and called ahead to arrange Customs clearance for Miner's Bay. We could clear at the Ganges Gov't Dock, but with it being a holiday weekend, the Around Saltspring race going on, and building winds, I thought it would be better to avoid having to make a detour into that chaos, and by checking in en route, we could head directly to the raft up when entering the harbour. We were a little behind by now, but were just approaching the Miner's Bay dock when Newfie Bullet radioed us to inform us that the wind was up too much for anchoring and we were now meeting at the Ganges Gov't Dock. Oh well, so much for my great plan! We were now departing Miner's Bay against the tide, so made very slow progress clearing active pass, but once clear, we quickly got the headsail up. I was surprised to find the seas/winds building on the Trincomallii Strait side, and while it would have been better to have both sails up, Elsa was hesitant of doing so (she understands why it would be better, but logic doesn't always overcome emotion), so headsail it was. She actually did great. Sitting on the rail, she was unable to see the increasing wind instrument reading of 15, 16, 17, 18, 19.. 20 kts. I wasn't about to mention the speeds to her until later, but with the increasingly unbalanced helm, I was (literally) just preparing to blow the headsail when Elsa said that she had reached the edge of her comfort zone. So furled was the sail we motored in the rest of the way.
I expect to be pretty comfortable with closed quarter engine maneuvering with Volti by the the end of this season, but this being the first trip of the season, coming into an unfamiliar dock in this much wind, I was concerned where they had spotted us for tie up. As we made our final approach, I spotted a sign that power boaters wouldn't pay much attention to: "under 6' draft at low tide", so before I got myself into difficulty within the alleyway, I bailed and we reset for a different spot with more water below the keel. It was a tight fit with a broadside to wind approach, but lots of bodies on the dock made it both comforting and nerve racking (more witnesses!). Anyways, my ego remained in tact as I put the bow in and spun the stern, with everything going according to plan. Miller time!
We had a wonderful weekend with the Squadron. Although the forecast wasn't great, the actual weather we had was better than expected, and even had some t-shirt temperatures! Sunday all 20+ of us headed up and had a nice brunch on the patio of the restaurant (too bad for the young couple that got planted at a table right in the middle of us all :^). Elsa still had dance class Monday, and with the forecast including strong winds in the late afternoon -and factoring in the transit of Active Pass- the only real choice for us was a 7:00am departure to make morning slack. That did make for light winds on the trip home, but more and more we're using the headsail and motor-sailing to gain a bit of boat speed and reduce fuel use under these situations, so we made good time home. After a bit of a clean up we were heading back home. The only thing missing from this trip was Megan.