August 2017 – Tumbo Island Paradise Found

Are you ready for the story of one of the absolute most beautiful places we have encountered in our West Coast sailing adventures? Tumbo Island. Spoiler photo alert!

Tumbo Island, Southern Gulf Islands, British Columbia
Tumbo Island, Southern Gulf Islands, British Columbia

With such a late splash in the season, and with Leavetown needing all of my attention for fundraising, we realize we couldn’t afford the time for our usual summer trip to Desolation Sound. We decided to explore the Southern Gulf Islands instead, and are we ever glad we did! The Southern Gulf Islands are located due West across the Strait of Georgia and extend South just shy of the US border. The islands attract unique, hippy, year-round residents and are a magical place to spend quiet summer days swimming in the surrounding waters and gorging oneself on the abundant blackberries that seem to have overtaken these islands.

Our friend Neil owns a cottage on North Pender Island and he invited us and our friend Sally to spend a few days relaxing, BBQ’ing and frolicking on the Party Barge, a massive island-shaped inflatable. We left very early on a Saturday morning and motored South down an incredible calm Georgia Strait. We navigated Active Pass at slack tide, a first for us! We anchored for the night at Selby Cove on Prevost Island. The next morning we sailed South to Bedwell Harbour on South Pender Island where we anchored Leela and where Neil picked us up with his truck. It was a joyous few days spent at the cottage. From there, Saxony and I both wanted to go and explore something new. I think it’s Saxony who found Tumbo Island on our Navionics app. She was looking as far to the extremity of the Gulf Islands as possible when she spotted this little horse shoe shaped island which is also home to Cabbage Island Marine Park.

Sally and Saxony on the Party Barge
Leaving Bedwell Harbour, we're looking at the Northern San Juan Islands
Leaving Bedwell Harbour, we’re looking at the Northern San Juan Islands in the USA

The Tumbo Island anchorage is completely exposed to the North and literally opens up on Georgia Strait. One has to be very lucky to get nice settled weather and a calm anchorage as good weather usually means NW winds in Georgia Strait. It is an ideal anchorage in a SE storm but of course that isn’t what we are seeking on our summer holiday. I’m happy to report, we totally lucked out! We dropped anchor at the entrance of the little bay and enjoyed an idyllic day of relaxing on the beach in the sand! We thought we were on holiday somewhere tropical!

Tumbo Island

Unfortunately, we only had one day in paradise as the plan was to head back North to Vancouver on Monday to get back to work on Tuesday, a 14h push in the best of circumstances. Unfortunately for us, the wind was predicted to build to 15-20 knots in our face on Monday which would have made the voyage North unbearable. We shifted plans and returned to South Pender Island where we decided I would ride a floatplane to work on Tuesday morning and Saxony would spend the week working from a local hippy café and sleeping on Leela anchored at night in Bedwell Harbour. Observation: commuting on a floatplane back and forth from the Gulf Islands to your yacht makes you feel like a BOSS!!

Floatplane ride back to Pender Island
Friday afternoon floatplane ride back to Pender Island

Our string of good luck continued as the established high pressure remained over the following weekend. I left work early, flew back and we wasted no time moving Leela back to Tumbo Island for round #2! We only had a full day Saturday to enjoy the place so we pulled out all the stops suntanning and enjoy some quality time in the sand!

Relaxing on Tumbo Island
As sailors know, this doesn’t happen all that often. Chillin’ on Tumbo Island

Tumbo Island anchorage union 36 sailboat
Tumbo Island anchorage

Saxony and I love to crab and even more to eat fresh Dungenese Crab. So we dropped our crab trap just outside of the bay in 60’ of water and we got lucky!

Sorry dude. But I am going to eat you. Succulent Dungeness Crab

We were even treated to a solar eclipse which we got to watch from our hammock on the foredeck. It was really eerie as the general luminosity diminished and it got really cold and we both needed our fleece jackets.

looking at solar eclipse union 36 sailboat
Looking at the solar eclipse. Thanks Brie for the glasses!

And over both weekends we got to indulge our passion for laying in our hammock together both on the foredeck of Leela as well as onshore strung amongst the most beautiful Arbutus trees. Watching sunsets and drinking dirty Gin Martinis!

Our picture of 2017. Saxony in hammock at Tumbo Island

Saxony staring at sunset

Leela at anchor Union 36
Leela at anchor at Tumbo Island, BC
Union 36 sailboat
Leela, what a beauty

Union 36 sailboat

On our 2nd (and final) Saturday we decided to give ourselves the entire day to enjoy Tumbo and to travel overnight before an expected NW wind was supposed to blow in against us on Sunday. We had a lovely dinner of crab and went to bed at 8pm, setting an alarm for 11pm, a short 3 hours later. By 11:30pm our anchor was up and we were motoring out of the anchorage into the inky darkness. We slowly but surely made our way North overnight taking turns on watch. By 4:30am a strong NW wind developed against us, the seas rose sharply and steeply and we started sailing, tacking our way up Georgia Strait. I tried to sleep but it was like being in a washing machine. Poor Saxony fed the fishies.

Union 36 sailboat sailing
Twilight before sunrise in Georgia Strait heading for Vancouver

The wind pretty much died when we reached English Bay. And we were surprised to find the Mega Yacht “CloudBreak” anchored a few miles from False Creek. Check out it’s website here. It’s an absolutely incredible vessel and you too can rent for the modest price of $850,000 USD per week!! We pulled into Spruce Harbour marina and just crashed and burned, completely exhausted from our overnight sail.

Cloudbreak yacht
Cloudbreak Yacht at anchor in English Bay

So concluded our summer “holiday” aboard Leela. Tumbo proved to be the discovery of the last few years and we will be back for sure.

I’m so sorry. You can’t un-see this. Saxony made me do it. Can’t all be bikini pictures of her. 🙂
Tumbo Island
Watching the sunset from Tumbo Island

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