The Other Coast!

By: Derek Innes

Volume 15, Issue 12, December 2020

Editor’s Note: Back in October 2018, I wrote an article, "Closing up is hard to do." Among the photos was a special tribute to Derek Innes, expressing celebration and sadness. Derek's grandmother, Ruth Evelyn Lawson, owned The Towers in The Admiralty Islands, and for eight decades, he had spent his summers there. However, that October, Derek and his wife Marj were closing up for the last time. I wrote, "Many of us have experienced the same sadness, but suffice to say he and Marj have many friends and dozens of joyous memories of the River that will last a lifetime."

Derek Innes first came to The Towers with his grandmother, Ruth Evelyn Lawson in the 1930s 

The summers of 2019 and 2020 were not the same without them, but Derek sends wonderful handmade newsletters telling me what he has been doing, and now I do not feel all that sad for them! You see, they live on beautiful Vancouver Island on Canada’s Pacific Coast. This fall his news was so interesting, that I decided we should share it - why? In case you want to take an excursion to British Columbia in the future. Therefore, this article appears in our December issue, as well as on our Excursion Tab.


Derek's Summer 2020  - The Other Coast

The first photographs are an aerial view of the marinas in North Saanich: 1) Our house in North Saanich; 2) Capital City Yacht Club; 3) Sidney, North Saanich Yacht Club; 4) Cedar Grove Marina; and  5) Westport Marina.

The BC Ferries sail from here (Swartz Bay) to Vancouver City (Tsawwassen). The crossing takes 1 hour and 35 minutes. Today one must wear a mask on the Ferry. 

In 2020, so far to the end of October, we have had a wonderful summer of boating, albeit not the St. Lawrence River.

The number of times sailing = 57; three-quarters of the time on Elk Lake and one-quarter on the Pacific Ocean. The number of times on our Zodiak  = 24, always on the Pacific.

I do most of my sailing on Elk Lake which is located in Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park between Sydney and Victoria, British Columbia. The lake is a 2-kilometer/1.2 mile-long and wide lake with two beaches that are heavily populated in the summer. I have to dodge the Olympic and Victoria Rowing Club rowers and there are plenty of them!

The Pacific is my other venue, where the water is cold  at 11C/51F in the winter and only 14C/57F in the summer. There are so many islands where I sail that the winds are fluky, but my main concerns are the 9ft tides everyday. The flood tide (water coming in) is like a river in the ocean, whereas the ebb tide (water going out) is not as powerful. I can still paddle back to the launch ramp on an ebb tide, but it is useless to try to paddle back on a flood tide when the wind flops to zero. I still find it amazing to see curious seals pop up in front of me when I am either sailing or paddling.

Our inflatable which we use in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Vancouver Island. 

We purchased our 11-ft inflatable in June 2019.  And like so many boat owners, it is kept in the garage along with our  DART sailing catamaran, our two motorcycles, and Marj's e-bike. And where is the 8-year-old Kia... outside of course!

I was amazed at the number of US registrations!

One day at the end of October, I ventured to two marinas and took photographs of boat names and home ports. I was amazed at the number of boats with US registrations.  Of course, most had no sailors this summer with the border closed, but suffice to say that they come from everywhere.

Yes, the winner! The farthest way and by far the most descriptive name!

As I was getting the final photographs of place names, this huge boat was leaving its berth.  Soon after, I encountered "Chilly." I said I had a 15' Catamaran, and he said he met a guy at the launch ramp at Elk Lake two years ago who was launching his beautiful Dart Catamaran! I said, "That was me!"

I do miss the Thousand Islands. I could travel so much farther on the St. Lawrence River than I can on the North Pacific Ocean and in the Gulf Islands!

By Derek Innes

Derek Innes spent his summers for eight decades on The Towers (Island 14) in the Admiralty Islands. A teacher by trade, he taught for 30 years in the London ON school district. Both Derek and his wife Marj were avid sailors at the Fanshawe Yacht Club, on London's Fanshawe Lake. Marj has won numerous sailing championships, while Derek, for 16 years, had the distributorship for Dart Catamarans in Canada. In fact, he sold 150 Darts during those years, mainly at the Toronto and the London Boat Shows. For several years, they organized the Admiralty Islands KISSR Regatta ("Keep It Simple Sailing Regatta"), which was attended by many sailing friends from the area, and about which Doug Goodfellow wrote in August 2009

Posted in: Volume 15, Issue 12, December 2020, Essay



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