It’s been quite a few months since we posted anything new on what we’ve been up too, and we have a few things up our sleeve to let you know about. Last fall we drove our car out to Vancouver Island to vacation with friends. On one of our day trips we stopped in at the Ladysmith (home to Pamela Anderson) marina. We love checking out boats in marina’s when they let us and this marina was public, so we could walk around. Todd struck up a conversation with a gentleman who was on his boat. Let’s just say fast forward two months later…. we bought a boat!

While Todd was working this winter, he signed up for the Canadian Power Squadron boating level 2 & 3 virtual course so he could understand navigation and ocean tides and currents. He completed and passed the course on New Years Day and was eager to get onboard to learn his new skills. We planned to head out to Van Island before peak boating season, so Todd could get some additional training. The boat is named “Grand Adventure”, which is moored just outside of Duncan, BC. It’s a 1979 Grand Mariner – so she has decades of great stories to tell! Here is a tour of her: Grand Adventure (

On day 1 of training, we walked into fuel pump issues, so Todd was elbows deep in the boat engine, pulling wrenches. There was a new fuel pump and fuel filters installed prior to us getting there but the boat wouldn’t stay running. They yanked the pump out, replaced it with the old one and then replaced the fuel filters with a different brand and this made all the difference. On day 2, we got out for some training in the bay practicing how to disembark from the boat slip and make tight 180 turns in the marina. Then Day 3, more practice on disembarking, dropping and pulling the anchor, cruising and parking the boat back in the slip.

On Day 4, we took a small crew out with us and moored at Musgrave Landing on Salt Spring Island, had lunch and then off to Genoa Bay for some anchoring practice. By day 5 our final challenges were Todd lowering the anchor while I was behind the wheel and then Todd backing up down a long fetch in tight, tighter and tightest situations. He did pretty well; there is a lot of physics involved, which I did NOT take in high school! I don’t know how he knows what to do, but he does. At the end of day 5, Todd was officially granted a certified skipper!

We reviewed and devised our first solo voyage taking into consideration wind and tide schedules and where we were going to anchor which added two other factors like wind direction and length of fetch. We departed at 10 am and headed back to Musgrave Landing so we could get some more practice docking the boat on a linear dock AND to go check out the waterfall. But first priority was cooking brunch and having celebratory mimosa’s for the win!

A short 2 hour stop and then headed over to Russell Island. We practiced our anchoring here and then took the dingy into dock and took the 2 km hike around the island during low tide.  This was a cute little 1 km island that was an old homestead on its own island, but now an official historical BC park. We talked to a few other boaters here and they were all staying for the night. So we also decided this was a good anchor as well and stayed put.

The next day we toured to Fulford Harbour to check it out, then headed down to Mill Bay for some diesel and a walk around town. We had planned to anchor overnight at Coles Bay, but when we arrived, Captain Todd determined that it was too wide open and the fetch was way too long. So he consulted his charts and we had to go with Option B. Another 45 minutes later we ended up at Tod Inlet, on the back side of Butchart Gardens. It’s a narrow and more protected inlet. Apparently in the summer months it gets crazy busy AND every Saturday they shoot fireworks here. After an assessment of the land to sea ratio, we dropped anchor here on the bend and enjoyed the view. Took the dingy out again, this time with the little electric trolling engine (reminded us of speedy in Texas) over to the small beach at the end of the inlet. There was a lovely 3 km walk/hike down to the waterfall and creek and back.  Dingy’d back to the boat and watched the thousands of fried egg jellyfish do their thing in the water all around the boat, it was so bizarre to see!

Now that we have been aboard and on our own for 2 days and 2 nights – our 5-day training program has come in very handy for so many reasons.

  • Turning the boat on a 180 to line up to the linear diesel dock is not as easy as you think, and it took more than one try at Mill Bay (day 1, 2 & 5 of training)
  • Asking other boaters their advice on anchoring locations is always a good idea. This came in handy at Russell Island. (day 1-5 of training)
  • Having a backup plan when we arrived at Coles Bay was necessary (day 4,5 of training)

Our last day on our own we toured back up towards Genoa Bay for lunch and then on to Burgoyne Bay for an overnight anchor. It took about 2 hours from Tod Inlet to Genoa Bay. We called the marina so we could dock the boat (we were assigned to dock A) and head in for lunch for a few hours at the Genoa Bay Café. If you are ever in the area, this café was amazing! They have a tone of GF food options including GF coconut shrimp and GF Fish and Chips! Delish. It was pouring rain when we got back to the boat and we had to assist another sailor having a hard time keeping his 70’ tall ship close enough to the dock to tie off. We looked kind of like we knew what we were doing when he threw us the ropes!

We continued on to Burgoyne Bay and arrived around 3 and it was windy and tide was making it very rolly for anchoring, but we managed anyway. The rule of thumb for anchor use is 5 times the depth – if 20 feet of water, then 100 feet of anchor and rope. The wind and tide increased over the next few hours which had its own aspect of concern, but we didn’t go to land until the next day. We were able to skiff over to Saltspring Island to find a hike the next morning; the sun was out; wind was gone and tide was minimal. The view on the hike was pretty awesome! After lunch we headed back over to Maple Bay to get the boat back in the slip, cleaned up, sorted organized for our departure back to Calgary. (How impressed are you with some of my seaman terminology?!)

Here are a few pics of our week: First yacht week (

Here are some things we have learned from yachting:

  • Always use the Douglas Hitch when tying the boat (over, under and through) You can see proof here that Jill, at one time, knew how to tie knots –
  • Wind and tide is so important to assess at all times. Just when you think you know the wind or tide, it changes!
  • We made mistakes everyday, that could have been catastrophic but at least one of us saw the issue and saved the day
  • We are very thankful that we already live in a bus and manage the bus with pretty good communication and if we didn’t have that as a starting point, yachting would have been harder
  • Its more work than the bus – the environment is always moving and you are always figuring out your next move
  • We are no longer looking at the water / marina from the highway, now we are in the water / marina looking at the land and enjoying the beauty from a different angle
  • The boating community is small, unique, friendly and inviting. It can be very social and it can be very quiet.
  • Meeting new people and within minutes they have their hand out with “My name is….”

We really enjoyed this time yachting and can’t believe we get to experience this! We will be back in the fall for another Grand Adventure.