June on the Hook – Day 14 – False Creek, Vancouver, BC
The morning was overcast and I awoke with a vision of Vancouver. I noticed there was a woman who seemed to be living aboard one boat and three men on another at the Govt. dock, so I thought to myself, “they must shower somewhere.” So I asked the woman and it turns out there are showers for the Govt. dock in Snug Cove. Who’d of thought? In Canada, the Govt. dock is a fairly common thing. Often they are used by fishing vessels, but in Bowen Island it is more used by folks coming over from the mainland on day trips to go to the Union Steamship Company Marina Resort, local restaurants tchotchke shops, and by water taxis. You pay by the honor system and it’s very economical with no amenities. For the head, you use the one provided nearby for public use and the ferry passengers. It turns out the shower was actually at the Resort, by the laundry room, but seperate from the facilities they have for their marina customers. It was rather nice so I enjoyed the hot water and my once a week shower.
I did some other chores and made ready to leave. As I was about to push-off, the ferry, the Queen of Capilano, came into the cove. It seemed prudent to wait for it to leave so as not to be subject to the prop wash that it was making and to not interfere with their operation. After it left, I started the motor but realized that I still needed the wash to settle down as it makes a tremendous amount of unpredictable swirling currents in the cove. While waiting, a Tollycraft with no fewer than 7 aboard comes into the Cove and was going to pull up to the dock on the opposite side. They saw me and asked if it was alright to dock there. In hindsight, I really wish I had said yes, but instead I explained that I wasn’t sure and that the signage said it was reserved for winter moorage a couple more days. So they aborted that spot and came over to my side. I said to them that they needed to wait until the ferry wash settled down, as I was doing, but they apparently did not understand. They made their approach and the current had its way with them. This became my problem because the current carried their boat uncontrollably into mine. I was in a bit of an uncompromising position as I was on the dock with my bow line in my hand when this happened. The many crew managed to fend off for the most part with only their rub rail making contact with my port side stantion and hull. That annoyed me and I emphatically expressed that it was imperative that they do not hit my outboard on the way in. My wordage at the time was much different. They managed to get to the dock without any further contact and I tied back up and inspected for damage and decided there wasn’t any and to not take further action concerning liability. There were apologies and lots of playing dumb on their end and they asked if they could help me in my departure. My words said “In light of what just happened I would very much prefer to do it myself.” My tone said “I don’t like you very much right now and I trust you even less.”
Point Atkinson, From Satellite……
…and From the Boat. Vancouver in the Background.
Looking Back at Howe Sound
I got off the dock without further incident and motored out of the cove. Once out, there was an outflow breeze from Howe Sound and I raised the jib and the main and broad reached toward Vancouver. Once to Point Atkinson though, I started to lose the outflow and the wind became light and variable. I made it around the point but I could see how you might want to give it a wider berth as the currents here tend to push you in its direction. I tried to work the boat the best I could in that light air, but finally gave in and motored through English Bay. I wanted to get into False Creek and secure an anchoring spot and permit before it was too late in the day.
English Bay. A moorage field for large ships awaiting loading and off-loading in Vancouver’s ports. English Bay is called such as this is where Captain Vancouver moored his fleet while exploring the area. The shoal area in the lower left corner is called the Spanish Banks, because that is where the Spanish fleet was moored at the same time.
I have been to False Creek previously and have gotten an anchoring permit before. Vancouver has implemented an anchoring permit system in an effort to keep live-aboards with unseaworthy boats from permanently mooring within the Creek. The permit is free and allows you to anchor 14 days out of the month in False Creek. Each month you can get a new permit. For the rest of the time, you must go elsewhere, which for the live-aboards appears to be out in English Bay near the entrance to the Creek. I assure you, that is a very exposed place to anchor and at times, terribly so. The gist is that if your boat can’t move, it would be considered unseaworthy and subject to a fine of $500 and/or impounding. This is the state of affairs and it creates quite a dynamic in the Creek. Once you observe it for a couple of days it is all very easy to understand.
The guide books explain that you must go to Stamps Landing to get your permit, yet the boating magazine 48 North had a current advertisement saying that there are three locations to get your permit. Go directly to Stamps Landing. False Creek Fuels is one of the faux locations. I stopped there first as I wanted to top up on fuel and was told I could get one at the Boaters’ Welcoming Center. After refueling I went to the Center, which also was on my way to the anchoring spot and the nice gentleman said I would have to go to Stamps Landing as they were the only ones to give out permits. He stated that I didn’t really need one as it was really meant for the live-aboards and that the City wanted me to be able to anchor here and visit. Without the Permit System, the live-aboards would monopolize the anchorage and visiting boats would not have room to anchor. While I did not inquire what a slip at a marina would cost, I suspect it to be a turn off to some thrifty Canadians (and myself.)
The image is not real-time, but you can see the plethora of boats anchored inside False Creek. Also visible is the park/green space surrounding the Creek.
I moved on to where I wanted to anchor and found a spot on the edge of the field. This was luck and strategy. Luck because there was a place for me, strategy because I wanted to be on the edge so as not to be completely surrounded by other anchoring and swinging boats. Once anchored and set, I pumped up the kayak and paddled over to Stamps Landing to get my permit. I had intended to play by the rules and get the permit as I “had no plan with the man” and it seemed prudent to do so. Seeing as I was only going to be there a couple of days, I really believe I did not need to have one and it appeared like many others did not bother. Still, it was free and easy enough. It is easy to tell the live-aboards from the tourists. The live-aboards have boats that don’t look like they are sailed often or ever (sailed, as in used to travel, whether sailboat or powerboat), and the tourists do. Because they do not travel, these aspects of the boat are typically neglected and this can be easily observed. If you are not investing in your boat, living at anchor is very low rent.
I locked up the boat, used an anchor chain to lock the outboard to the boat, figured out a way to lock the dinghy up and paddled ashore. Vancouver is notorious for vehicle break ins, so I figure that boats could also be subject to this. False Creek is surrounded by a park. This park provided public space, green space, bike and pedestrian lanes, water taxi docks and there are places to tie up your dinghy for free too. Tennis courts, monuments, historical information, benches and other curiosities are abundant. The Creek is surrounded by marinas and house boats and very little heavy industry. It appears to be well enjoyed by the inhabitants of the city on a summer day and gives the city a very European and progressive feel. At least in the park. In venturing out of the green space, it reminded me of Seattle and any other urban area, a money suck with noise and pollution and everyone on their cell phone running the rat race. Impressive, if you find those things impressive. I managed to escape the streets unscathed physically and financially, realizing it had nothing to offer me on this trip and retreated back to the green space and the Creek.
I paddled back to the boat and locked up the kayak. I checked that the anchor was doing as I expected, enjoyed the sunset, turned on the anchor light, ate some grub and watched the “circus” from the comfort of my own tiny, traveling, floating home.
Stats: TO – 11.31NM, MS – 6.1kts, MA – 3.4kts, TT – 3hrs, 50 mins, AD – ~18ft, AS – 60ft.
Misc.: 135mins of motor time, refueled, sussed locking up operations, reminded to not trust others and their boats.