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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Up North

Apologies to our regular readers, but we've been a bit quiet on the blog. As usual this reflects the opposite in daily life - things are getting busy as we begin to reattach ourselves to the land. We did, though, have a great trip across to Vancouver where we met up with friends and had a great afternoon and evening with Gesa's sister. It was very good to catch up with everyone, and the anchorage was perfect. We stayed in False Creek, near a place called Granville Island, which is a pretty big tourist and artist place, with markets, studios, playgrounds and other attractions. We had a lot of fun, especially on the hot day when the kids found the water park, and spent too much money - but the food from the market was superb and shows that you really do get what you pay for.

On the way back we stopped for a couple of nights at a nice place called Plumper Cove, a little park accessible only by water about twenty miles north of Vancouver. It was a nice quiet stop and some good walks in the forest and on the coastline.

Back to Nanaimo we made a trip up to Cumberland and Comox to check mail and see that our house is still there - it is and it looks like it will be ready for us in a few weeks time. WE sorted out gas, power, internet and phone - the usual necessities of modern life, although we have eschewed cable TV and will try to get by on dvd's and video over the internet for now. We've also been thinking about stuff we want to have for furnishings and houseware. We have ended up finding pretty much every thrift (charity) store in Nanaimo and Courteny, and there's a superb selection of second hand stuff. In most cases, this ticks the boxes of being more environmentally friendly as well as much cheaper. For example, we all have cycle helmets now, four of them cost us twelve dollars. One new one would be thirty, and have a load of cardboard and plastic packing. So it's thrift stores for most stuff, then if we buy new we buy high quality so that we only buy it once, hopefully.

We then spent time preparing for my parent's arrival on Friday. They are with us for two weeks sailing then another week as we move into the new house, so they will see some of our new life too. We found that the marina has some small storage cages up in the underground carpark, so we rented on for a month and took loads of stuff off the boat - mostly books and clothes - as well as storing our new houseware purchases. There is a lot more space on board right now, many lockers are not even close to full. It's amazing how much can be accumulated even on a small boat.

Mum and Dad's arrival coincided with the start of some superb weather, and we have had a great trip up the coast. Apart from motoring everywhere because of light or northerly winds, it's been a really good trip so far. We've had a couple of quiet coves all to ourself - rare at this time of the year when everyone is on vacation - and are now in the famous Desolation Sound. Poor old George Vancouver was pretty down by the time he got here, and it was raining too, so the area gained it's undeserved name from that. In reality, it is majestic, and, like Princess Louisa Sound, defies description or photography in it's grandeur. Massive mountains rise behind the shore line, and sheltered coves make perfect anchorages. It is a deservedly popular place, and sadly it has some of the features of beautiful places in the Caribbean or Bahamas, it is a spot where the rich gather to burn gasoline. There are quite a few big motor yachts, with powerful dinghies to zoom around the area and even a float plane anchored just next to us, probably to ferry guests in and out and avoid the need to spend a day or two on the water traveling here. Of course, I might argue that when it's so easy to get here, the experience is dimmed and just becomes another neat place you flew to once.

Thankfully, this place overwhelms even the most vulgar attempts to show off. The best anchorages are too small for the big yachts, who anchor outside in the deep water and all their toys don't buzz around where we are. Next to these mountains, even the biggest boat is just a dot on the water and we can all admire and enjoy these surroundings together. It really is fabulous, especially when the sun shines!

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