We have a short 14 mile trip from Roche Harbor to Sidney,B.C. We head directly to the customs dock at Van Isle Marina. We are entering Canada under a “Work Order”. We have accumulated a long list of maintenance items for Philbrooks Boat Yard to address. After clearing customs, we must go directly to Philbrooks which is located right next to the marina. No personal cruising is allowed. By entering Canada under a work permit, we avoid Canada’s taxes on both labor and parts. We are allowed to stay aboard during the work, we just can’t go out cruising.
Once cleared by customs, we navigate the narrow channel down to Philbrooks Varnish Shed. We were here several years ago so we are familiar with the route.
Our project manager of Philbrooks, Ian, asked us to come in a couple of weeks early as there was an opening for the coveted indoor shed. Varnishing is much easier done here out of the weather elements so we were happy to be able to secure the shed.
We end up staying a Philbrooks for over a month while work is done on the boat (more on that in the next blog). Since we can’t cruise on our own boat, we head out each weekend to one of nearby Gulf Islands using the B.C. Ferry system. The Gulf Islands are Canada’s equivalent to the San Juan Islands in the United States. For around $15 round trip, we can walk on the ferry with our bicycles. British Columbia does an amazing job with their transit system!
Our first destination is to Mayne Island. The island doesn’t have a marina or good anchoring options so we haven’t been able to visit here while cruising aboard Idyll Time. From the ferry wharf, we are quickly greeted by a steep uphill climb. The challenge of biking the Gulf Islands is there are very few flat roads. Everything seems to be either up or down. Our first stop is to the bakery in Miners Bay and then the Saturday Farmers Market.
Continuing out of town, we bike to the Georgina Point Lighthouse built in 1885 which guards the tricky waters of Active Pass.
While on Mayne Island we also hike to the top of Mount Parke for some great views.
The next weekend finds us back on the ferry to visit Salt Spring Island for the wonderful Ganges Farmers Market.
On of our favorite Gulf Islands was Saturna. 50% of the island is part of the Gulf Islands National Park Preserve. The bike ride out to East Point was very scenic.
Another highlight of Saturna was visiting the Sage Hayward Vineyards.
The route to get there was torturous along the hilly dirt logging road. We ended up walking the bikes most of the way both up and down the hills due to their steepness.
The views from the winery restaurant and also the wood fired pizzas were worth the effort.
North Pender Island was our next weekend biking destination. One advantage of visiting these islands on a Saturday is that they all have great farmers markets.
We also passed these friendly car stops, similar to hitch hiking of days gone by, along most of the Gulf Islands.
In Hope Bay we discovered a great local Chocolatier.
To burn off some of the calories from the morning, we stopped to hike up Mount Norman.
Galiano Island was our last island to bike for this season where we hiked up Mt. Galiano after visiting another wonderful farmers market.
While in Sidney, we also spend many days biking the wonderful Lockside Trail. This converted railroad bed trail links Sidney to Victoria via a 16 mile mostly gravel path. Victoria is such a fun city to explore.
An added bonus was the wooden boat festival taking place in the inner harbor.
In between visiting all the Gulf Islands, lots of work has been taking place aboard Idyll Time. We will update you on that in the next blog. Thanks for following along!