Tuesday, December 29, 2009


I love Ganges. I love Salt Spring Island. I've been coming here for nearly 20 years. I've come over on the ferry, in van, car and on motorcycle. I've stayed ashore at friends and in the fine bed and breakfasts and motels. I've anchored the GIRI in the harbor countless times, fueled up and stayed at the guest wharf or in the Salt Spring Marina. This morning after a night at anchor in the harbor I called up the Salt Spring Island Marina, first on cell phone then on the VHF radio at 66A.

The lovely, helpful and friendly marina manager was there to help me with my lines after I told her I was solo sailing. What luxury to have water and electricity. My electric heater is right now combined with the diesel heater to make the cabin toasty. They've a winter rate special, $15 a night for any boat length. That can't be beat when summer rates are $1.25 to $1.50 a foot a night and Giri is 39.9 feet. She gave me the code for the laundry and showers rooms too.

I talked to Bob at Yanmar and he came by to check my Wagner Autopilot. He bled the system while I tried adding more hydraulic fluid but that didn't solve the problem. "I think the motor is hooped," he said. "That's too bad. I guess I'll take it back to Jastram Engineering in North Vancouver. " After that we talked about boats. He and his wife have a skookum steel boat they're fixing up with the dream of cruising the Polynesian Islands. I told him about cruising Sea of Cortez and sailing to Hawaii. "How'd your cat do?" he asked. "We're thinking of introducing the kitty to sailing." I told him about Angel's love of her sock drawer and warned him about all the tedious vaccination and quarantine issues pets face in the Pacific.

Later I got the dinghy off the deck and in the water. Despite my getting smaller dinghy's and outboards over the years they seem to get heavier. I wanted the dinghy in the water to make setting up the hydrovane self steering system more convenient. Without the autopilot I'll use it on the way back with the weather forecast for more wind. It's easy to mount the Hydrovane hanging over the stern but it's even easier from the dinghy.

I also wanted to motor over to the town. It's about a 2 block walk but why walk when you're boating. The outboard was a hard start but purred once she kicked over. Part of the boatworld is using the toys. Getting in the dinghy brought back memories of the first dinghy, the dinghy I used to stand in and hyrdroplane with the fins on the outboard. That one went like lightning. A 15 hp outboard on a dinghy rated for 9 hp. Now I'm older and sit sedately, this 4 hp Yamaha doing me just fine. There doesn't seem to be the same hurry there once was.

In town I did the standard tour of Mouat's. It's one of those amazing country hardware stores which has everything and then some. I found the unique hooks I needed for hanging lanterns on the boat as well as a replacement mirror for the one in the head that rusted after sea water came through the port hole in big seas. I found another $10 thinsulate togue at Mouat's Clothing. I misplaced the Bluewater Cruising Association togue I have on boat and headgear was critical in the cold wind at sea so I need a spare. I love the sweater I bought at Mouats this summer.

Seeing the Tree House Café outside I was reminded of all the great folk and country music I'd heard there. Being a week day, the market wasn't running as it usually is when I'm over in the summer. I don't know if it goes on in winter. The other place for great entertainment is the bar and grill at Salt Spring Marina, MoBy's. Food's always been great there.

Of course I got to the book store. It's one of my all time favourites. I got a Sam Llewellyn and an Alexander Kent I hope I haven't read. In this one Bolitho is facing Napoleon's forces in the Mediterranean. (There's an automatic 12 guage shot gun with grenade shells that we figure would serve the GIRI well on the foredeck, kind of like one of the swivel guns they had on the old wooden tall ships.)

I avoided the artist shops. The galleries are incredible and I've spent hours in them and come away with affordable prints when I'd loved to have the truly great originals.

There are so many great places to eat out and terrific coffee shops, the island being famous for it's coffee distribution. It's also famous for its lamb.. I got some lamb at Thrifty's that's Canadian produced but I 'm not sure it's Salt Spring Island Lamb. For some reason I had to drive my motorcycle up to a farm to get some Salt Spring Island lamb one year. I tried it out on my Aussie friend John and he said it was as close as he'd tasted to the 'real' thing here.

Harlan's Chocolate kidnapped me in broad daylight. I didn't have time to avert my eyes and I was inside the store jonesing.

Mostly it was fun walking around the town. I love the boardwalk along the harbor. It's a truly beautiful place and the island people are the most pleasant and sophisticated. It was the festive season, too. The days are getting marginally longer. I came home in the dinghy with night falling in the harbor. The sea otters were playing in the water.

Now it's great to be in the warm.

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