Sunday, November 20, 2011

Farewell to a Favorite - Greenway Sound Marina

One of our favorite stops on the coast was Greenway Sound Marina.  A great place to meet friends, have a great meal, charge up your batteries, get water, get some supplies, do laundry, go on a hike, take a shower, and maybe even get a haircut. Yes, a haircut.  The red carpeted docks were there to greet you as well always a hearty "hello" from the owners Tom and Ann Taylor.  It "was" one of the best places on the coast.  That's right "was."  Greenway Sound Marina is no more.

I remember first stopping in at "Greenway" back in the early 90's.  We had just caught a large halibut and we needed a place to clean and package it that had plenty of electricity and water.  So we stopped in and we've never really left since - always stopping in year after year.  Back in the heyday of Greenway you had to call Tom on the VHF and make a reservation not only for supper but for moorage too.  You'd come around the point and you would see the place packed with all sorts of yachts - big luxury yachts, world cruising sailboats, trawlers, sailboats, and weekend cruisers.  You'd give Tom a 'shout' on the VHF and he'd always snuggle you in to the perfect spot with a hand.  When you got up to the store/restaurant to register you'd be greeted with a hug and a handshake by Ann and Tom.  Tom would then make your dinner reservation.  There wasn't too much time to chat as Tom was always attending to another boater, and Ann was prepping for dinner. Both Tom and Ann worked hard to deliver that renowned red carpet Greenway service.

Thursday, 7/20/2006, Day 8
            Woke to high clouds, a forecast for better or clearing weather and a return of afternoon northwesterly winds.  We pulled up anchor at 0955 and headed out.  Waters are perfectly calm under a high overcast sky.  We’re on our way to Greenway Sound Marine Resort for the night.  We went down Indian Passage, in to Fife Sound, round Notice Point in to Raleigh Passage, then in to Penphrase Passage, then Sharp Passage in to Sutlej Channel and finally in to Greenway Sound.  We pulled in to Greenway Sound Marine Resort about 1420.
            I hosed down the “Zipper” and the boat.  Then we went to set prawn traps over in Greenway Sound.  It is terribly hot out with very little wind to cool you down.  So motoring out to set prawn traps was some relief from the heat.  We had to re-set one trap because it was too deep and had drifted.  After setting the prawn traps we motored over to the Forest Service trailhead and took a hike to the lake.  The trail is deep in the woods and this too will serve as some relief from the heat.  We hiked to the ‘view point’ but it was overgrown with small alder trees.  Josef and I then took a quick dip in to the lake to cool off and refresh us.  It was deliciously cooling and refreshing.  After the hike, we returned to the marina, took showers and then had a wonderful dinner at the Greenway Sound restaurant.  You just can’t go wrong.  Josef and I really enjoy the New York steak with the BĂ©arnaise dipping sauce. A fresh breeze from the S cooled the boat off later in the evening.

Sunset at Greenway Sound Marina
Come dinner time, the restaurant would be packed with all sorts of folks.  Conversation was easy and friendly.  Always a "Hi, we're from..." or "Oh, where are you off to now..."  Tom was an excellent host mixing wonderful drinks and always attending to any need you had.  Tom always had a great wine or drink recommendation. Waiting for dinner you could sit and look at the hundreds of yacht pennants that adorned the walls or gaze at the beautiful scenery from the restaurant.  When the meal came, it was not only delicious but a feast for your eyes too.  The food always looked delicious.  Ann was very particular that everything was perfect - and it was!  Always the freshest and best ingredients.  Once I had some visitors from Europe with me and they were amazed at the quality of the meal they had in the "wilderness."   I always ordered the Alberta beef New York steak because after a couple of weeks out on the boat all we ate was fish.  Tom seemed to have a connection with the heavens too, because glorious sunsets always seemed to accompany dinner.

Fishing right off the dock at Greenway
Our children enjoyed Greenway too.  They could fish right from the dock and catch big fish.  Once they caught a nice 20lb + ling cod right off the dock.  Or they would catch shiner perch and sell them to the other boaters as rockfish bait.  There was always something to do.  When suppertime came, we adults would enjoy a gourmet dinner, while Ann would make a delicious pizza for the boys to enjoy.  The kitchen staff even delivered to your boat!  The boys didn't mind that mom and dad were gone, they had power to watch a video and enjoy a pizza.  And, after they devoured the pizza they'd come for dessert.  Greenway had ice cream and all sorts of delicious desserts.

Sadly the demise of Greenway came slowly and from different directions.  One, the cost of fuel limited the number of boaters that wanted to travel that far.  Diesel fuel cost went from $0.50 per gallon to over two or even three dollars per gallon. Greenway was over 200 nautical miles from Seattle.  Two,  the economy made it tough to take the time off. Folks had to work versus taking time to travel.  To ease that, Tom kept Greenway technologically up to date adding WiFi and always working to ensure there was cell service.  He made connections with airlines to always offer daily service.  It was also hard getting good help.  Tom recruited the best help, but it was hard for the help to be so isolated.  Finally the bank didn't agree with Tom about a marina in the Canadian wilderness as an investment.  Three, the fishing and fishing regulations had changed.  Once it was easy to catch salmon and bottom fish, but then the stocks declined and the resulting regulations decreased the fishing opportunities.  And four, age.  Tom and Ann were getting older.  The demands of long days cooking and running a high-class restaurant took it's toll on Ann.  The Taylor's tried hard to find an owner that would continue to run Greenway with the quality they created.  That kind of quality is hard to find, and it just didn't work.  So last year Greenway closed.
Ann & Tom Taylor

I have closely worked with Tom and Ann for many years.  The Taylor's have seen my boys grow from youngsters to young men.  They have seen us grow old too.  I stay in touch with Tom, he's still energetic with new ideas as a twenty year old.  I wish I could match his youthful thinking, quick wit, and energy.  He just got a pacemaker installed and now he's back to prime form with a list of new ideas.  The Taylor's have many lifelong friends from all the years they welcomed boaters.  I would dare to say the Taylor's have a huge and extended family.  I am proud to count myself as part of their extended family.  I will miss Greenway Sound Marina.  I personally don't think another coastal marina will ever match what they had.  They were pioneers in the coastal marina business.

Sadly, the remote marina business is declining.  The past years have seen other quality remote marinas decline and close.  Again, costs to run a marina are not cheap, the season is short, and folks just don't want to take the time and cost to travel so far.  When you travel north, make plans to visit these remote marinas and enjoy a night or two and thank them for their commitment.  We try to stop every year at an "up coast" marina.  In some coming blog posts I'll write about some other marinas that we have enjoyed.  If you have some favorites, drop me a comment or an email at:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Favorite Eats: Cincinnati Chili

As the weather forecast was predicting the first November storm with winds I thought it best to go down to the MV Independence and check things out - make sure the lines are tight, things are stowed away, and whatever else I notice.  The winds blew strong through the marina. You could hear the tell tale sounds of the wind with halyards slapping the masts, and squeaks of fenders as they were pressed against the dock.  Each gust would gently move the MV Independence slightly about in its slip, but I had no worries.  I decided to start the engine and let it run for awhile.  As usual it started right up and that brought a smile to my face.  I slowed the rpms to an idle and put the boat in gear.  The boat surged slightly forward but stopped as the mooring lines held tight.  I commented out loud and to myself, "I'll let you run for a while."  Now I no longer did I hear the sounds of the marina and wind, but the gentle purring of the motor.

While waiting for the engine to warm up, I poured my self a tot of whiskey, sat down, relaxed, and opened the MV Independence log book randomly to a page and began to read.  Like a bible I enjoy reading a past log entry and thinking about past travels and adventures, particularly on a stormy day.  Here's what I read...
5019.9 Monday, 8/25/2003, Day 35
Click on image to enlarge
Left Shoal Bay Marina at 0735.  Skies are heavy and gray as it rained most of the night.  At times heavily.  Now there only some light showers.  Seas are calm.  We made it through the Dent, Gillard, and Yuculta rapids fine, perhaps a bit early but there were no issues.  As usual there was a bunch of other boats going through too.  After the rapids we enjoyed a nice breakfast while continuing our cruise south.  We went through Desolation, passing our planned anchorage – Squirrel Cove at around noon. The boys and I were not in the mood to stop so soon.  The weather was still cold and gray.  Weather Canada was still predicting a SE storm. As we went S the weather seemed to get better.  Light winds were the name of the day.  We went down Thulin Passage, past Lund, and then we were considering staying at Westview/Powell River.  I called to see if the ice rink was open but it wasn’t.  So, we thought about it and then pressed on.  We considered staying in Blind Bay but it didn’t “jive” with the next day's plans of getting through Dodd Narrows at slack.  So we decided to press on to Pender Harbor.  I wasn’t too keen on paying for moorage at a marina so we are trying Bargain Bay which is south of Pender Harbor.  We’re anchored in 35’ at high tide.  Including us, there are 6 boats anchored in the bay.  When entering or exiting Bargain Bay you need to stay close to the East side to avoid a rock.  It’s very peaceful here it's like anchoring in a lake.  We had a nice dinner – Cincinnati Chili out on the aft deck.  Then we sat out and talked long into the evening.
Cincinnati Chili?  I almost forgot how good that is.  We learned about Cincinnati Chili from our good friends Tom & Ann Taylor at Greenway Sound Marina in the Broughtons where it was always on the menu. (Tom was originally from Cincinnati) His wife Ann made an incredibly delicious Cincinnati Chili. Cincinnati Chili is different from most chili recipes in that it some different spices in it and its served atop a pile of spaghetti with a big mound of cheese and onions if you so desire.  Unfortunately Greenway Sound Marina is closed but I'll provide you with a recipe so you can enjoy Cincinnati Chili.

I make two versions of Cincinnati Chili, a boat version - quick and easy, and a home slow cooked version.  Both are good and very hearty and comforting on cold days.  I mean what's not to like you got chili, cheese and pasta.  Here's the quick and easy boat version that we enjoyed that day in Bargain Bay.
  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 1 t garlic powder (or two cloves of garlic minced)
  • 1 can chili con carne with beans
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (I like Rotel - tomatoes with green chilis - if I have it)
  • 1 T dried oregano
  • 1 T cocoa powder
  • 2 t ground cinnamon
  • 2 t ground allspice
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 1 t Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 t Tabasco or red pepper sauce
  • 1 T red wine vinegar
  • 2-3 cups cooked spaghetti
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • Oyster crackers
 In a large pot over medium high heat add vegetable oil and get it hot.  Add about a quarter of the chopped onions (about 1/4 cup) and cook until onion is soft about 2-3 minutes.  Next add all the spices of cumin, cinnamon, allspice, oregano, and cocoa powder and saute them for about 1 minute with the onions.  Next reduce the heat to low, add the canned chili, canned diced tomatoes, vinegar, Tabasco sauce, and Worcestershire sauce.  Mix well and simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes to ensure that all the flavors develop. During this time you can also cook your spaghetti in boiling water with a touch of salt.

Place a good helping of cooked spaghetti in a bowl, ladle the chili over the top and ask, "You want a one top or a two top?"  If the reply is a "one top" put a big mound of grated cheddar cheese on top.  If the reply is a "two top" place diced onions on top of the mound of cheddar cheese.  The final "coup de grace" is a handful of oyster crackers on top.
Tip! What we do now, to avoid always having to take so many spices on board, we mix the dried spices - oregano, garlic powder, allspice, cinnamon, cocoa powder, and cumin - into a small Ziplock bag, label it, and put it aboard in the larder just in case we want Cincinnati Chili when out cruising. 
Hmmm?  As soon as I'm done here at the boat I think I'll go home and enjoy a big pot of Cincinnati Chili.  Just as I finished my tot of whiskey, I checked the engine and it was fully warmed up.  So I shut the engine down, gave the boat a last check, and quickly hurried down the dock through the wind and rain to get some Cincinnati Chili.  I know I'm going to have a "two top." Enjoy.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Which Route Crossing Georgia Strait Is Best For You?

Last summer we took advantage of some very calm weather ahead of predicted stormy weather to come down Georgia Strait. Fuel cost, time, weather, scenery, and available anchorages all weighed in my decision on which "route" to travel down the Strait to Nanaimo. In the 21+ years I've been crossing Georgia Strait I've come to define three major routes that not only I but other boaters use. These are, west side, west Texada, and Malaspina. Each route has its benefits and its demerits. And along with each route there are some minor route changes that you can do. However, which main Georgia Strait route to use depends on where you are going, how much time you have, and the weather.

In my discussion on each cruising route, I will review each route based on the below criteria. Please note that the criteria below are based on my experiences and knowledge and may differ from others with similar knowledge and experience. Remember, you're the captain of your vessel and the below is only offered as advice that you may choose to use or not.
  • Distance from Nanaimo (Departure Bay) to a point where you technically out of any weather seas, e.g., Campbell River, or the southern end of Desolation Sound.  Although your numbers of nautical miles may vary, I will report the number of nautical miles from my log book from past trips. 
  • Weather seas. The potential for rough seas either northwest or southeast winds where you would experience "moderate" seas of 3'-4' or more. I will rate this from a "1" low risk to "5" high risk. I will further break it down into two sub-areas - Nanaimo to approximately Comox and that latitude across, and from Comox north.
  • Anchorages/Moorage. How many safe anchorages or marinas that are along the route and available if you were to experience heavy weather. Safe anchorages for me are where you can reliably be out of the winds and no worry of dragging anchor. I will list the number of anchorages and moorages that I would consider as safe. You may have your own favorite anchorages or marinas.
  • Popularity. The number of other boats that travel the same route. This can be both good and bad. I will list this as a "1" low (few boats travel this route) to "5" high (many boaters travel this route).
  • Hazards. Shoals, Area WG, ferries, shipping traffic, etc. I will rate this as a "1" low (few hazards) to "5" high (many hazards may be experienced).
  • Scenery. Views of shore, mountains, rock formations, and more while traveling. Again a scale will be used from "1" low (no scenic value) to "5" high (lots of scenery). This rating and criteria is pretty subjective and may vary from person to person.
  • Amenities. Places where you can stop for repairs or fuel, or provisions. A rating will be used from "1" low (few amenities) to "5" (lots of amenities).

Cruising routes for Georgia Strait. Click on image to enlarge.
West Side Georgia Strait Route.

Follows the eastern shore of Vancouver Island.  Nanaimo to Denman Island (Lambert Channel) to Campbell River (Cape Mudge)
73 nm
Weather seas:
southern end: 5  northern end: 5  average: 5
4 (Schooner Cove, French Creek, Ford Cove, Baynes Sound/Comox)
1 (Ferry to Powell River, Shipping Traffic, unless you go into Comox then hazards would be a 4 because of shoals)
1 (May see orca in northern waters)
2 (French Creek, Comox)
You’re pretty unprotected on this route and are mercy to the weather seas.  For me, it is a long and boring slog up the island.  However, if Campbell River is your goal then this is the route.  You can skip going up Lambert Channel and save about 5 nm.

West Texada (Sabine Channel) Georgia Strait Route.
Nanaimo to Bull Passage, then up Sabine Channel along west side of Texada Island and then to Lund
57 nm
Weather seas:
southern end: 3  northern end: 4  average: 3.5
1 (Lasqueti/Jedediah Is.)
3 (Area WG, Mystery Reef, Shipping Traffic, Ferry to Powell River)
2 (Jedediah Is.)
1 (Lund)
I do travel this route but only in good weather, it saves me a bit of time and we really enjoy Jedediah Marine Park.  Going up the west side of Texada is boring.

Malaspina Strait Georgia Strait Route.
Nanaimo to Texada, then up Malaspina Strait to Powell River, then to Lund
61 nm
Weather seas:
southern end: 3  northern end: 3  average: 3
5 (Ballet Bay, Blind Bay, Garden Bay, Grief Point, Powell River)
3 (Area WG, Boating Traffic, Shipping Traffic, Ferry to Powell River)
3 (Forested shores of Texada, views of mountains)
5 (Garden Bay, Grief Point, Powell River, Lund )
We travel this route the most, although I don’t often like the passing wakes from large powerboats.  We have seen bears along the shores of Texada Island.  You don’t feel alone on this route with all the other boats.  And, I’ve ducked into several different spots when I got tired of beating through the waves and swell.

Just SE of Lund
When crossing Georgia Strait I always listen to Comox Coast Guard Radio on WX 3 particularly for the weather “Georgia Strait – North of Nanaimo.”  They will tell me if Area WG (Whiskey Golf) is active and provide weather reports at the below locations to help me choose the best route.  The weather radio forecasts are updated at 4 AM, 10:30 AM, 4 PM, and 9:30 PM.  Automated weather stations are updated each hour.
  • Entrance Island – Lighthouse report
  •  Merry Island – Lighthouse report
  • Chrome Island – Lighthouse report
  • Cape Lazo – Lighthouse report
  • Cape Mudge – Lighthouse report
  • Ballenas Island – Automated report
  • Sisters Island – Automated report
  • Grief Point – Automated report
  • Sentry Shoal – Automated report
So there you have it my analysis of three cruising routes for Georgia Strait.  I hope this information helps you on deciding which route is best for you.  Again, it is based on 21+ years of experience crossing this inland sea which I call the “Monster.”  If you have any comments or suggestions I welcome them.  Happy cruise planning.