Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Well, Canadian customs sure enjoyed our request for one year in the country. They must still be laughing about it.

Strike number one came when the officer on duty asked the make of our boat. The conversation went like this.

"There has to be some make besides 'Saturna'."

"Well there isn't; It was built in British Columbia..."

"That doesn't help ma'am." Is there some other name?"

"Nope, just Saturna. Sorry."

So we have a nonconforming boat. And we like it that way. But apparently Canadian Costumes(sic) doesn't.

Aside from the rude welcome of two armed law enforcement officials rifling through our underwear drawers, we enjoyed Victoria. Timing it to arrive at Oak Bay - where they still had space - we rode the bus into downtown for the Canada Day festivities on July 1.

Thier Cap't Cook looks more scholarly than Anchorage's version. And less of a skirt, too.

At the Victoria Maritime Museum, we got to see Tilikum - John Voss's round the world canoe. It's an amazing little craft. Buy the book, it's great.

Boy, those canucks really get patriotic. Scads of gents wrapped in maple leaf flags, or near naked and painted red, and the lasses in very short red shorts.

Fifty thousand was a good guess for the day-long party and fireworks.

Oak Bay was nice but expensive. Blain got a fishing licence and we can now set crab pots. He never in his life thought he'd ever utter these words to his wife: "I sure hope I catch a case of crabs tonight..."

The first one we got that was legally large enough was boiled alive and became sushi rolls.

First stop out of Oak Bay was Sidney Spit. A shallow lagoon and long sand spit, it was perfect for anchoring, crabbing, beach frisbee, and sunning. Years ago they decided to improve the biodiversity and imported fallow deer, peacocks, and of all things - chipmunks. Of course. We did see one, unfortunately.

We did see purple martins, though. A recovery success story for BC, there were only 6 breeding pairs in the 1980s. Through a program of building nest boxes, they have recovered to 700 or so now. A new bird for both Blain and Mo. We are on to Butchart Gardens for the Saturday fireworks.

On to the backside of Victoria for the Butchart Gardens fireworks and flowers festivities. They accidentially timed them for the Fourth of July and not Canada Day.

We lucked out and found a mooring ball right in Butchart Cove, so we could simply row to the dock and hop off in the gardens. The mooring is free with admission, but that's another story. Admission is outrageous. But we both have to say it was a truly spectacular garden.

Built in the 1920s on 21 acres beginning as a mansion and again another limestone quarry (but this one had Jennie Butchart in charge). Jennie transformed the sunken pits and sheer walls of the quarrying into waterfalls, hanging gardens, japanese gardens, rose garden, an italian garden, etc...

Japanese Garden path.

Very civilized catered picnics.
Cool flowers from all over the world.

The fireworks were truly fun with firework bicycles, a firework viking ship, suns and moons and firework flowers (of course). All told, we spent (I kid you not) 11 hours roaming the grounds, listening to live music, and watching fireworks. Nice nice place.

The row back to the boat in the dark in the thick firework smoke and a hundred unlit dingies all looking for their boats was a lot of fun. A bit like blindfolded bumper cars.


We're now in Canoe Cove, near the Sidney, BC ferry terminal for some repairs. We are hoping for a speedy fix to the holding tank dilemma. Photos will follow, I'm sure.


  1. Hi Mo & Blain!
    I have been following your blog from afar since the beginning. Your adventure is amazing. Keep the blogs coming. I love the pics of the gardens at Butchart Cove!

  2. Hi Sheri, we will be happy to keep them coming. We got a Wifi service for the harbors along the way. Glad to hear you're reading. Hi to your gang from us both.