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By: Ron Kirstein | Oct 3 2007 | 794 words | 908 hits

A Three Hour Sail -Gilligan's Island Style?

Not a chance! This adventure is Vancouver Island Style and the only marooning that takes place is the stress left behind on shore. Captain Len Pearson, a very experienced seafarer, and first-mate Sue Powers, are there to make sure that you truly experience a tall ship adventure.

The guests consist of a lady from Ottawa, two energetic young ladies from Norway, two young men, one from Edmonton, and the other from Ontario, another young man and his son, and my wife Linda and I. The "THANE" is anchored in the Inner Harbour.
Our sail begins with a safety discussion as we motor out of Victoria's busy Inner Harbour.

Over 100 years ago, Joshua Slocum completed a sail around the world that remains today among the most famous feats of single-handed voyage of all time. Starting in 1895, alone aboard the "SPRAY", Slocum covered 46,000 miles over the next three years. The boat's hull form enabled it to self-steer under sail. The SPRAY's sailing performance is now legendary.

Len Pearson found his hull in a field where it had been abandoned 10 years earlier. In 1972, he traded his '68 Chev for the hull. For the next 5 years, Len scrounged timber and scrap metal and using mostly recycled material, built "THANE," his version of the SPRAY. Construction took place on Finger One of Fisherman's Wharf in Victoria. THANE is 55ft overall, (40 ft on deck) powered by a 100hp Isuzu diesel, and pretty much capable of sailing herself.

When Sue finishes our history lesson, she starts getting us under sail. She calls people over by name and assigns each a task. We're all encouraged to take part in raising the sails. Sue asks one of the young ladies from Norway to crawl out on the bowsprit to free the foresail. The bowsprit is like the nose of the THANE and it protrudes well out from the bow. There is netting below, but this does not make it less daunting. It takes guts to crawl out there, and our heroine makes it happen.

Once under full sail, the THANE is impressive with her brightly colored red sails. She glides through the water. The weather is perfect and the wind is light, but strong enough to keep us moving. The views of the city are grand - views the average tourist will not get unless they take this trip.

At one point, I observe Mount Baker rising up over downtown Victoria. Over the 24 years I've lived here, I have never had that view. We sail westerly down the coast of Victoria, past Esquimalt Lagoon, and then on to Metchosin, a rural community West of Victoria. On the way past Esquimalt Naval Base, a large ship passes. Len explains that it is the tow vehicle for a large platform (like Oil Rig Platforms) that is used to launch satellite rockets into outer space. You just never know what you will see when you're on the ocean. A couple of harbour dolphins surface near the boat, but are gone almost as quickly.

The peace and serenity of being on the water under quiet sail takes over. Everyone becomes very mellow. It's a time to relax and absorb the surroundings. On the other side of Juan de Fuca Strait are the snow covered, majestic Olympic Mountains, breathtaking in the bright August sunshine.

The Coho (car and passenger Ferry) motors out of the Inner Harbour on its way to Port Angeles. The two young men have brought aboard a supply of beer and happily share with anyone who needs one.

The incredible weather, perfect winds, and spectacular scenery certainly make this trip special. The people aboard are all very friendly and easy to talk to. Perhaps it's that we're all in a great frame of mind. It's hard not to be under these conditions.

As we approach the Inner Harbour we are amazed by the volume of traffic. Seaplanes are coming or going every 10 minutes, helicopters too.

The Coho Ferry, pleasure craft, fishing boats, sail boats, and naval air craft heading for the Canadian Naval Base, all make for interesting sights.

As we arrive in the harbour, we see all these crafts, plus kayaks, the small harbour ferries, and whale watching boats, all cooperating as they maneuver around. This is probably the best harbour tour that I have ever been on.

We pass the Coast Guard Station, then the working part of Fisherman's Wharf, then the floating homes section of Fisherman's Wharf, and then we literally do a swing that takes us around all of the Inner Harbour. It is spectacular.

Len skillfully maneuvers the THANE back into the dock and a very happy bunch of guests depart. It was a wonderful sail on a spectacular day - a three hour sail to remember. Thanks Len and Sue.

About author:
Ron Kirstein is the owner of a Canadian Travel & Tourism Web site (since 1995). Ron has traveled the length and breadth of Vancouver Island BC Canada in search of adventures - see -
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