Postcard from The Inshore

Captain Jose Maria Narvaez Lunched Here…Maybe!

Narvaez Bay, British Columbia  N48 46.495  W123 06.112

The voyage had been difficult. Rowing the Santa Saturnina was not easy when the crew was stricken with scurvy; many were either dead or nearly dead.

The task of probing and mapping the deeply indented coastline to find the entrance to the fabled Straits of Anian was gruelling. Discovery of the mythical passage from the Pacific to the Atlantic would confer untold power, prestige and authority upon one’s King.

On entering the Juan de Fuca in June 1791, Captain Jose Maria Narvaez stood stunned at the panoramic vista of snow-frosted peaks, cobalt-blue skies and the green, silent islands.

This was a land that surely belonged to Spain! Those seas full of thrashing salmon represented many meals and the crew would eat well tonight. But where were the people of this land?

Fast forward 217 years…Tula rollicked along on both a beam reach and the flood, pushed by a warm 12 to 14 knot northerly.

After passing the Java Islets along the south coast of Saturna Island and abeam of Narvaez Bay, a gourmet lunch and a glass of chilled Pinot Gris beckoned. Maybe Boiling Reef, and those huge, voracious ling cod north of Reef Harbour could wait a few more hours.

Safely anchored within Narvaez at Little Bay, the VHF announced the breeze was to shift to the NNW; Reef promised to be lumpy. Perhaps a night behind the protective hook at Little Bay would provide a calmer anchorage.

And ever consistent with the fluid plans of sailors, one unintended lunch-stop became two memorable nights and three repeat visits later that summer…

Things to See and Do:

Under the watchful eye of Mount Baker, you’ll enjoy armadas of patrolling Canada Geese, otter pups learning from attentive parents, seals galore, raccoon families foraging along rocky shores, bald eagles by the half dozen swooping on the thermals and placid deer at the shoreline.

On their red stilt legs, oyster catchers search for lunch under the rocks. Drop the crab pots and maybe, if you’re lucky, the commercial pirates will not have removed all of the legal males.

Paddle or row ashore and hike up to the point. You can then wander past the walk-in campsites in this newest addition to the Gulf Islands Marine Reserve and continue through the old abandoned farm orchard to Echo Bay.

Getting There:

From Tsehum Harbour, 16 NM bearing 065 degrees true, down Boundary Pass, Stuart Island to starboard, port turn at the south end of Saturna Island. It took 17 minutes for the gentle swells from freighters travelling Boundary Pass to arrive at our anchorage.

While calm in summer, freighter wash at other times could be uncomfortable. Narvaez Bay may be too exposed to roaring easterly winds in the winter, but for much of the year it’s a delightful stopover.

Captain Pedro

March 3, 2011

Tula's Cruising Blog

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