Sunday, July 26, 2009

Weekend in Victoria

Just back from a weekend away to Victoria and what a great time it was. We left Friday afternoon and went against a strong flood just to be on the water. Did all of 2 knots through Cattle Pass and 4-5 across to the Discovery Islands with no wind and motoring. We went into Oak Bay that night as it is about an hour closer and we really like the pedestrian friendly environs. The marina folks were very nice but somewhat ignorantly put us on a slip in shallow water, I think not realizing we were a 32 foot sailboat that draws the better part of 6 feet. Good thing we left early in the morning as we couldn't have moved at anything close to a zero tide. We got there just at 9pm and had time to take the short lovely walk into the village for a great dinner at Penny Farthing. I recommend that pub to anyone venturing into Oak Bay for great food and great pub atmosphere.

By the time we hit the sack we were nice and tired and ready for Saturday. I got up and went for a run along the waterfront and discovered that there is a great park just north of Oak Bay. Oak Bay really does have a lot going for it, with a village like town with great food and a great waterfront. Even all the apartments and condos don't detract too much.

We met some dear friends Saturday morning who were out from Calgary for a wedding and though there was no wind, we went out to motor around anyway. It was grand. Hot and sunny. Amy and I then motored around the corner into Victoria where we grabbed our slip on B dock right in front of the Empress. At $1.60 a foot it is pricey for dock space, but still feels super cheap for such prime real estate. Even though you are right downtown with hordes of tourists along the causeway, the dock itself feels sufficiently private. Yet, you are 100 feet away from all the street performers and the sights of the town. It's great.

We took a long walk around Victoria to explore new places and discovered how nice the waterfront is south of town. They have managed to preserve open space all along the shore and there is a multi-use path all along the water. It is packed with walkers, joggers, lovers, strollers, dogs and all other manner of bipeds and quadrapeds. We walked about five or six miles and ended up in the Cook Street Village when we circled back and this is where we found a great bakery called Bubby Rose's where we had yummy things.

That night was the annual Luminara event at St. Anne's Academy and Beacon Hill Park and it was a great festival of fun. There were various types of live performances in front of many hundreds of people assembled on the lawn and it had a wonderfully healthy happy family feel to it. We can't help but notice how many young people and families you see in Victoria compared to Friday Harbor. Locals say it is inhabitated by the newly weds and nearly deads, but we find Victoria well stocked with the 25-45 crowd that San Juan Island lacks. It is very nice to not feel so young or old, but squarely in the range of middle where we actually are. We left during a lull in the performances as clouds gathered ominously and the wisdom of this choice was manifested by the arrival of heavy rain once we returned to the boat. It was about 9:30 or so, and this was a bummer for the event because it was about this time that people were supposed to start walking with their lanterns through the park. The rain was heavy enough to discourage anyone from staying out in it and I'm sure the whole Luminara event suffered pretty badly from it.

This morning we had breakfast with the same friends at ReBar, the great lesbian run cafe, and then had some time on the beach to admire rocks and soak up the sun. Amy and I left the slip at the 1:30pm check out time and began a slow journey back home. Slack was at 3pm when it would turn to flood, but we found a nice eddy going all the way to Trial Island. By the time we got there, it was close to slack and there was just a puff of wind so we raised sail. We kept that wind on our stern for about an hour as we did 3-4 knots, but then it died and we motored the rest of the way home. We made it to the custom dock at 6pm but had hit a record 11.6 knots at Cattle Pass.

Overall the trip was fantastic, and only lacked enough wind for a nice sail. Did I mention we did the trip without the boys? They stayed with the grandparents and so we got away. It was wonderful to have the space, and silence, and freedom of responsibility. We missed the little bastards, but not so much we couldn't get by without them for the weekend. When we got home, they seemed to have done just fine without us, which speaks well of them and for us.

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