Sunday, September 16, 2007

Cruise to Cortes Island, BC - Day 2

We got a lazy start the next morning. The sun was warm and encouraged lounging on the aft deck. We departed before lunch and rounded the west side of Cortes and heading for Uganda Passage, a narrow channel of water between the Cortes and the sand spit off nearby Marina Island. We went slow following the marker bouys to stay in the deepest water.

The entrance to Gorge Harbour is impressive. Massive granite walls loom upward from the water's edge. On one wall there are ancient petroglyphs, but for us they were hard to spot. Once inside a wide bay with islands in the middle opens before you. We cruised by the government dock, but it was full of classic work boats. We then headed to the Gorge Harbour Marina Resort dock for fuel and inquired about an overnight stay. Space obviously wasn't a problem. The many fingers were virtually empty this second day after the close of the tourist season.

We brought our bicycles with us strapped to the rear railing. Wayne read an article about riding on Cortes and we wanted to give it a try. On the way out to the main road we stopped at the resort store (nicely stocked) and to make reservations at the restaurant for dinner. We love to cruise, but hate to cook when other options are available. At Whaletown Road we turned left. Cortes is a hilly island. Wayne does better than I in such conditions, but he was patient as I walked my bike up the crest of many a hill. The scenery was beautiful with many old (at least older) growth trees.

At Carrington-Bay Road we turned right to the ferry terminal. This ferry connect Cortes to Vancouver Island via Quadra Island. It takes both car and foot traffic. At Harbour Road we took another left and went down the steep hill to the ferry dock, and I mean steep. There were spots where I had to walk in both directions. Just before the ferry there was a vendor offering pop, tea and ice cream at the front of her home. We rested awhile on her deck enjoying a cold drink and ice cream bars. Her garden was amazing!

After struggling (at least for me) back up Harbour Road we retraced our steps to Whaletown Road. This time we turned right to go down to the village on the bay. As the name Whaletown implies, it was a thriving whaling stations established here in the mid-1800s. Today it is a quiet village of homes and a few shops including the General Store. Our return trip to the resort seemed shorter (thank goodness). We were rewarded at days end with an excellent fresh salmon dinner with all the trimmings.

If you would like to read a more detailed account of this adventure, it is in the chapter called "The Last Tourists" in Up the Strait, available for purchase at It is also available as a free podcast by clicking here. -- Margy

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