(published October 2015)
My phone buzzed on the table next to my laptop in the small village café with a text message from Jill. “Crystal clear water. Beautiful sand. Best beach yet.”
That statement firmly held my attention, as it was mid-August and we’d spent a good amount of time exploring salt and freshwater beaches in British Columbia since early May. And when I saw it for myself, I could see she wasn’t exaggerating.
What had been planned as a couple hour visit to Hague Lake Park on Cortes Island, BC turned into a daylong adventure that was so good we came back the following day as well. For us, the spoils of cruising spontaneity mean taking time to enjoy where we are.
When we dropped the hook next to a small, rocky islet covered in immense conifers the previous evening, we didn’t really know how long we’d stay—one day, maybe three. The anchorage was given a passing mention in one cruising guide and completely omitted from another, so we figured it needed exploring.
After a dinghy ride across the small bay to the public dock, we found a hand drawn map showing the quaint village of Manson’s Landing and an adjacent lake and swimming beach. Why not?
By this point, British Columbia’s Desolation Sound and Discovery Islands had been our playground for the better part of three weeks, and the common theme had become, anchor, swim, explore, repeat, which is how cruising works best for us, and many others.
Over the past year, we’ve changed our habit of trying to hit as many anchorages or ports as possible to slowing down, planning less and taking time to thoroughly enjoy a great spot when we discover one.
Sometimes we research a community before we get there to find activities for the boys, parks, farmer’s markets, community events or concerts. This approach has paid off immensely, as we’ve found vibrant island villages, befriended locals, and even gotten our older son, Porter, into a play school for a few days.
But it’s those other times when we happen upon a place by taking a chance on what little information is available that seem to be just as memorable, if not more. What we’ve truly come to realize is that the fun of cruising isn’t necessarily about sailing the most miles or quickly buzzing through a popular locale to simply check it off the list.
The cruising life just seems to be more rewarding when we slow down, linger longer, and allow ourselves the time to fully explore the areas we visit, meet new people and let the days meld together.
Andrew, along with wife Jill and sons Porter and Magnus, are currently cruising the Pacific Northwest aboard their Grand Soleil 39 Yahtzee. Follow their adventures at threesheetsnw.com/yahtzee.