Christmas 2006 Cruise


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Mission Harbour to Richmond Middle Arm

Windy and later raining





A Beautiful Day to Cruise on the Fraser River





Log Dump in Progress in New Westminster




Fine Dining On Board the Corona

We planned to depart at 0800 and invited Susan and Fred Truman to join us for our cruise down the river.  We welcomed our guests aboard at 0745 and departed after a few cups of coffee by 0900. We had about a one and a half knot current in our favour and meandered happily down the river until we reached the dock at the Billy Miner Pub in Haney.  Here we off-loaded our passengers after an enjoyable two hour cruise.  They were to be picked up by friends near the pub.  This is also a good spot to pick up or drop off passengers that may have taken the West Coast Express train during the weekdays.  This is a great train ride along the river but, unfortunately, does not run on weekends. 


We continued on our way after a quick pit stop for Kona on shore and stopped again to idle in the river just below the Port Mann Bridge to wait to see a large log dump barge unload all its logs.  There were several tugs surrounding the barge ready to gather up any stray logs in the bundle and put them into order for possible further transport.  When we arrived on scene the barge was taking on ballast on the shore side making ready to have the huge pile of logs slide off and into the river.  We would have had a better view of the “big splash” had we been behind the barge instead of in front of it.  After taking a few shots we carried on down the river and turned into the North Arm at Lulu Island, just after leaving the Westminster Quay on our starboard side.


We anchored just down the way from the Delta River Inn Marina.  The holding ground wasn’t great in this location but would be alright for the night as the winds were not predicted to be strong until tomorrow.   We made our way to visit our friend, Running Bear, onboard the MV Corona at the Delta River Inn Marina.  We enjoyed the hospitality of the Corona for an “Italian” night and returned to our vessel to retire for the night.   


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Dec. 24/06


Delta River Inn Marina, Middle Arm, Richmond

Very Windy








Tanya and Peter after Drying Off

We woke up to increased winds and decided to contact the Delta River Inn to determine if they had any transient moorage available.  We were only able to leave a message on their voice mail detailing our intentions and we proceeded to tie up on one of their outside spaces.  We were shortly after visited by Peter, the wharf manager, and he said we were welcome to stay where we had tied up. 


The day was spent preparing for the Christmas Eve dinner that was to be held at my sister’s home nearby.  All the menu items, presents and stocking stuffers were gathered up and ready for transport. My son and his girlfriend arrived to taxi us to the location.  When they arrived in their “Sunday best” they were soaking wet from the pouring rain.  Their umbrella had turned inside out as soon as they opened it from the strong winds.  We were glad to be tied up securely to the dock. 


We left the boat and enjoyed a Christmas Eve feast with family and friends.  We returned to the Sea Foam at 2300 and retired.  



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Dec. 25/06


Delta River Inn Marina, Middle Arm, Richmond

Very Windy, Raining




A Merry Christmas Morning at MacDonald Beach


The Sister Preparing to Feed the Throng Christmas Dinner

After opening Christmas stockings on the Sea Foam we again prepared the Christmas fare to be transported to another sister’s home nearby.  The whole gang would be there today; about 35 people. 


Rick, the Delta River Inn Marina owner, from his live-a-aboard boat, the MV Hi Dad, visited us.  We paid our moorage for the night and wished him smooth sailing as he was making away for a Christmas cruise as well.


We had enough time for a quick trip by tender down the river to MacDonald Beach to give Kona a run along with all the other river loving dogs that romp there.  The Captain of the Corona joined us and the rain held off long enough for us to enjoy our outing.


We gathered up our dinner contributions and the presents and were picked up by my sister at 1300.  We again left the Sea Foam for land and a full day of Christmas celebrations.


We returned to the Sea Foam by 2200 and retired. 


The weather is predicted to improve overnight and we have hopes of crossing the Strait of Georgia tomorrow morning at first light. 


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Dec. 26/06


Delta River Inn Marina, Middle Arm, Richmond to Conover Cove, Wallace Is.



Sea Foam Back Underway in the River.  What a smart Captain!













Conover Cove, Wallace Island

We woke up early and departed by 0800.  The winds were calm but predicted to pick up by late morning.  As we motored along we suddenly heard a bad sound coming from the engine room.  The Captain investigated the situation and determined it was a misaligned fan belt.  We were two miles from Point Grey and the ocean and we pulled over to the side of the river and dropped anchor.  As he was correcting the problem a post sheared off the belt tensioner and now it looked like we needed a whole new part.  The Captain drilled out a hole in the cast aluminum tensioner body and screwed a stainless steel bolt in its place.  We were back underway within an hour. 


The crossing was comfortable with a one to two foot chop.  As we approached Porlier Pass the wind had picked up and the waves were now three feet.  We traveled for about forty five minutes with a beam sea.  Once through the pass we continued on to Wallace Island and pulled in to dock at Conover Cove at 1430.  We had a spot on the south side of the dock right at the back.  Our friends aboard the MV XXIV VII were in front of us on the same side.  Later a fifty-two footer and a twenty-eight foot sail boat joined us on the north side of the dock. 


I immediately got my oyster bucket and tall rubber boots out and proceeded to Panther Point to see if I could gather any oysters at the not so low low tide.  I was rewarded for my efforts with a good supply to feast on for our evening meal. 


We invited all the boats on the dock onboard the Sea Foam for Happy Hour and enjoyed appetizers and good conversation until dinner.  One man had traveled in his sailboat from Tofino and had been out for four weeks with plans to meet his brother up the Fraser River in Fort Langley.  We were able to give him some helpful hints about the river and a contact number for the dock at Fort Langley.  The folks from the MV Sea Major did not appear for Happy Hour but spoke with us on the dock later that evening.


After dinner we were invited onboard the XXIV VII for a DVD showing and retired after that.     


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Dec. 27/06


Conover Cove, Wallace Island

Very Windy, Clear




Whitecaps outside of Conover Cove




Hiking to Chivers Point


The wind was wild during the night and the waves from the north came into the cove and rocked the dock mighty good.  The two boats on the north side took the worst of the bouncing but the XXIV VII got a bouncing all night as well as the waves came in and caught her bow.  The best place to be in a northerly is anchored in the north end of the cove.  In a southerly blow the south side of the dock is the best location. 


After breakfast we decided to get off the bouncing boats and take a long walk to Chivers Point at the north end of the island.  By the time we reached the point the wind had subsided some and appeared to be blowing more from the east now and the island was protecting us from the chop.


On the way back from the walk we decided to check into the small cabin and see if our boat sign we made for the Fish-n-Chips was still intact.  We found it by the front window hanging from a stick just as we had left it.  We need to put a new one up for the Sea Foam next time we go through.


We returned to the vessels, prepared pizza toppings and feasted on the XXIV VII until we retired.    


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Dec. 28/06


Conover Cove, Wallace Island to Chemainus, Van. Is.

Calm, Sunny, Warm




Chemainus Carving in Town centre




New and improved docks in Chemainus




Sea Foam and Corona at Chemainus Docks



We woke up with a start as someone was yelling “FIRE! FIRE!”  At first we thought it was a joke but as it turned out the MV Sea Major had sparks and flames shooting out from their Esbar exhaust.  One of his dock lines was scorched and black carbon was on his hull but other than that all was well.  It was, as I understand it, the equivalent to a chimney fire in a wood stove. 


Today the wind was calm and the weather sunny and warm.  After a walk with Kona and breakfast we said good-bye to the Sea Major as they made away to Sidney to get their furnace fixed.  Shortly after the XXIV VII cast off as well headed to the ferry at Forward Harbour on Salt Spring Island to off-load two passengers heading back to Vancouver. 


Shortly after we also left the dock and headed to Chemainus to meet up with the MV Corona.  The sea was flat calm and the sun was shining.  A beautiful day for traveling to be sure.  We had a leisurely cruise over to the island and pulled into brand new dock facilities there.  According to the Wharfinger we were the first paying customers on the docks.  They had been completed just last week and as yet there was no power or water connected. 


Shortly after we were settled at dock the Corona appeared on scene.  While the two Captains caught up on news aboard the Corona the Sea Foam galley girl prepared dinner for the evening.  Once all things were ready we all headed to the town to window shop and purchase a few things for the dinner plan. 


We stopped in at the famous Chemainus Dinner Theatre and inquired about the possibility of getting tickets for a dinner theatre show for New Year’s Eve.  There was only a matinee available but I got a chance to see the threatre that I had heard so much about.  We took a brochure and I made a mental note to make my way back here sometime in the future. 


We met Drew and Nelda on their way down to visit the Corona.  Drew owns an electronics store in the town and Nelda operates a B&B across the street from the Kinsmen Park.  They were invited to join us for dinner at 1830. 


During dinner, without any of us noticing, a huge cargo ship pulled into the deep sea port behind us. Within a short time of its docking it had lowered down a huge loading ramp in preparation for filling up with lumber.  The scene in the dark, with the glow of the lights all around reminded us of something out of Star Wars. 


Dinner was enjoyed by all and Drew and Nelda left shortly after as they both had to work the next day.  The Captain of the Sea Foam finished the evening off at the Corona.




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Dec. 29/06


Chemainus, Van. Island to Thetis Island Marina

Cold, Cloudy, Raining



One of many Murals in the Town of Chemainus







Another Mural on the Tour




Kona on Bow Watch





















The ship next door was in full swing when we woke up, loading on lumber.  The noise from their generators and trucks made for an early morning wake-up.  The huge ship was taking on lumber by the truck fulls.  The trucks are from the ship itself and as one went into the belly of the ship another was coming out from the upper deck.  There was a line up of three trucks waiting to get in at all times.  I would have liked to know how many truck loads actually were loaded on by the end of it all. 


Kona and I got up and away early and went for a walk to Kinsman Park to look out at the site where the jet plane had been sunk last year for an artificial reef.  The jet had been sitting on the shore at Hunter’s beach on Thetis Island and there were several fund raisers to take care of the costs to transport the plane over to Chemainus and have it sunk there for a future scuba diving spot. 


We walked through the town on our way back and met Drew just before he was to start work at his electronics store next to the grocery story, The 49th Parallel at the top of the dock ramp.  When we returned to the Sea Foam the Captain was up and we discussed plans for the day.  Drew’s wife, Nelda, had invited us up to her home for a hot tub but we decided to push off for Thetis Island instead.  We left the dock and waited for a spot on the fuel dock to get some water and gas for the Catch-Up.  It was raining hard and it felt cold enough to snow.  As we pulled away a rainbow appear over Bear Point.  The trip to Thetis Island was calm and quick, arriving at the dock about twenty minutes after leaving Chemainus.  The first mate practiced docking and was congratulated by the Captain, not for the docking itself but for the willingness to try to dock at all.  The bow was in but the stern was aided along by two helpers waiting at the dock, Running Bear and Sailor Bear.  It was a good practice run as it was on the port side and having two people to fend off was reassuring.  More practice is needed, however. 


We went up to the pub to say hello and found the Captain and First Mate from the Sea Major there to greet us and they invited us to sit down at their table.  They had been to Sidney and back to fix their furnace since the time we last saw them and were disappointed to learn that there would be no New Year’s Eve party at the pub this year.  We exchanged stories of our cruising adventures with them and returned to the Sea Foam to prepare dinner.


Mike Flack arrived by sea plane after just returning from a cruise to the Panama.  He brought along his guitar and promised to show us some of his video footage from his trip.  We all met on the Corona and were happy to learn Sailor Bear and Karen were also going to be joining us for dinner. 


Dinner would be onboard the Corona with the Sea Foam galley preparing the side dishes and appetizers.  The Captain of the Corona prepared baseball steaks on the barbeque and special coffees for dessert.  Dinner, company and entertainment were excellent throughout the evening, as always. 




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Dec. 30/06


Thetis Island Marina

Cloudy and Calm



Dingy Dock in Preedy Harbour




Calm Sea across from Thetis to Chemainus



We met a friendly Pirate on our paddle



The Captain of the Corona carves the leg of lamb


Dining with good friends on board the Sea Foam


After breakfast we took Kona for a walk along the road to the ferry dock and back and decided to get the kayaks off the roof of the pilot house and take a paddle out to Preedy Harbour.  Before getting the kayaks down we checked in with Running Bear and he informed us he had purchased a half a lamb from the Hunter’s farm and we would enjoy a leg of lamb roast dinner together tonight.  Greek salad and herb potatoes were prepared on the Sea Foam and we then took off for our paddle to Hudson, Dayman and Scott Island.


The water was flat calm and at times the sun showed itself as we paddled past Foster Point.  We climbed out of the kayaks on Dayman Island and had a bite to eat and a sip or two of red wine.  From this point on the beach we could see Scott Island and a familiar boat to us, the Annie Mac.


We first met the Annie Mac in the Broughtons and they had told us they kept their trawler in Telegraph Marina.  They also told us they had friends who were the caretakers for the property at Scott Island owned by a man from Wales.  This man came to his island only twice a year for a few weeks and the Annie Mac at times watched over the place while their friends left the island to vacation elsewhere.


After lunch we decided to paddle over to the protected dock at Scott Island and see if our friends from the Annie Mac were there.


As we pushed off from shore, Running Bear and Mike Flack pulled up in the Corona tender on their way to Chemainus to get mint sauce for the lamb roast tonight.  We chatted with them a while and then made our way over to Scott Island.


As we approached, the caretakers came out and we told them our story of meeting the folks from the Annie Mac and inquired if they were on site.  Their boat was indeed tied up there but they were not with their vessel.  We asked that we be remembered to them when they next were together and they said that they would tell them we stopped by.


By the time we returned to the Sea Foam it was dark and the lamb was in the oven.  We had happy hour on the Corona until the lamb was ready.  The Captain of the Corona carved the roast and we all enjoyed a great Greek feast onboard the Sea Foam.



Dessert was on the Corona and anyone wanting to stay up late for a New Year’s Eve warm up was welcomed aboard. 




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Dec. 31/06


Thetis Island Marina




Setting up for New Year’s Eve Entertainment at Sue and Peter’s.


The Lady of the House enjoying the festivities


A very slow start to the day.  We spent most of the day lounging around reading and napping.  At 1700 we sprung into action to prepare for New Year’s Eve dinner aboard the Corona.  We enjoyed a steak and lobster meal and prepared to move to the party venue up island.


The Captain of the Corona had secured a vehicle from the marina owner to transport his musical equipment.  We were invited to join in the festivities at the home of Sue and Peter.  Sue is a first mate for BC Ferries. Sue is working towards her Captain’s license. Peter is a contractor building homes.  They come to Thetis to relax and unwind from the stress of living and working in North Vancouver. 


We arrived at their home at 2000 and enjoyed a great evening of music, dancing and meeting new friends.   A champagne toast at midnight was a great way to bring in 2007.



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Jan. 1/07


Thetis Island to Boat Harbour, Vancouver Island





















Boat Harbour Docks



We slept in late after our New Year’s festivities and the weather report indicated gale force winds in the Strait.  We decided to take a short trip to Degnen Bay at Gabriola Island and possibly get some diving in.  We cruised along the west side of Thetis Island and as soon as we were clear on the north tip the winds from the south down the channel were blowing hard on our stern.  We tried to tack over to go through Ruxton Passage to get to our destination but the wind and the current were opposing and we were too uncomfortable to take five foot waves on our beam.  We had let the calm of the Thetis Harbour lull us into thinking the seas would not be too bad for the short ninety minute run to Gabriola.  We were wrong. 


There was no option but to go on with a following sea and we checked the charts for a place to pull in that would protect us for the night.  It was also approaching dark so it became more critical to figure out another plan.  We saw Boat Harbour on the charts and looked into our guide books for some information about this location.  It apparently was a temporary anchorage only and often boats would pull in to this harbour to wait for the currents in Dodds Narrows on route to Nanaimo. 


The best shelter in the small cove was taken up with two small private marinas.  We pulled into the harbour and found several slips near the shore line that were empty.  We tied up to one and checked the tides only to find that we would only have one foot of water under us by 2200 because of a 0.1 foot low tide.  The next thing we knew there was a man at our door saying we could not stay on these docks as they were private.  He went on to say that we would be on the bottom in our present location anyway.  We asked if he had any other solutions to the existing problem and he said we ought to go over to Pirates Cove.  We explained that we had just been out in the channel and the seas were nasty and we needed a place to hunker down.  He then suggested we put out lots of fenders and raft up to a large fish boat tied up at the exposed end of the docks.  By now two other boat owners from the docks had approached and pointed out to the proprietor that there was a vacant slip next to the fish boat and that would be a better place to tie up for the night.  We happily accepted this offer and they walked over to the slip to help us tie up.  Once we were in and secure we had dinner and watched a DVD while we rocked back and forth in our slip.  The night was a rocky one but we were safe.  


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Jan. 2/07


Boat Harbour to Wake’s Cove, Valdes Island

Cloudy, some sunny breaks in the afternoon




Wakes Cove and New Dinghy Dock





Motoring to hike Wakes Cove



Wakes Cove Marine Park Hike



Wakes Cove Marine Park Hike


After a night of steady monsoon-like rains we stayed in bed late to read and wait for the storm to pass.  By 1100 things had blown over and the channel outside was flat calm.  We took Kona to shore, thanked the proprietor for his “safe harbour” and continued on to Gabriola Pass as we intended yesterday.  The sea was smooth and the sun was shining.  Dramatically different from what we experienced the afternoon before.


We were in radio contact with the XXIV VII and they informed us they had had two bad nights of rocking in Silva Bay and had pulled off the dock that morning while the winds were still blowing strong.  They passed through between Breakwater Island and Gabriola on their way to Wake’s Cove only to find ten foot waves waiting for them.  They knew it was only a short run until they would go through the pass to the sheltered cove and they continued to pound through.  When we arrived in Wake’s Cove the water was calm and we wished each other Happy New Year and proceeded to shore to walk the trails at Wake’s Cove Marine Park. 


The walk was very enjoyable after being cooped up on the boat for the last several days.  We spotted a beautiful buck as we walked along and as he saw us he gracefully cleared a fence and took off into the out of park bounds area.  My Captain took several pictures of the changing terrain and we listened through the trees as the winds from the south had picked up once again. 


We returned from our walk and put a turkey in the oven to enjoy together later.  We proceeded to the XXIV VII for Happy Hour and returned to the Sea Foam for dinner with the crew of the XXIV VII at 2000.  We enjoyed a pleasant meal together and retired by 2300.

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Wakes Cove, Valdes Island to Delta River Inn Marina, Fraser River, Middle Arm

Sunny with a few Clouds



Changing Terrain in Wakes Cove



Abandoned Farm House at Wakes Cove


View from Wakes Cove Marine Park across Gabriola Passage to Breakwater Island and the Strait of Georgia


View from Wakes Cove Marine Park at Gabriola Passage


It was a calm night but the rain started at about 0700.  We stayed in bed until 0900 and the sun came out and the winds were calm.  We went to shore to take more pictures of the park along some of the trails that we had not walked yesterday.  We visited the old farm site and walked to the edge of Valdes Island to take pictures of the pass and look out at the Strait of Georgia.  The sun was shining and the seas were calm.  The XXIV VII passed through Gabriola Pass as we snapped pictures from the shoreline.  We returned to the Sea Foam, untied our vessel from the mooring buoy and pulled away. 


XXIV VII informed us that the seas were a one foot chop and that they had seen a large pod of whales heading north through the Strait.  When we about three miles off of Thrasher Rock we contacted the Corona and learned that he too was making a run across the Strait today to take advantage of the calm weather window. 


The crossing was lovely, sunny skies and only a one foot chop.  We met the Corona at the mouth of the river at Coward’s Cove.  We thought we might anchor there for the night but determined that because of the low tide expected tonight we would be on the bottom at midnight if we anchored here.  We decided to continue up the river and, once again, tie up at the Delta River Inn for the night. 


We said our goodbyes to the XXIV VII over the radio as they pulled into their slip at the River Rock Casino docks, or the Bridge Port Marina.  After docking we took Kona to shore and invited the Corona Captain to dinner on the Sea Foam.  We were relaxing before dinner and had a visit from Kodiak (Dennis) and caught up on his news and the news from around the river.  After Dennis left we had dinner and retired.   


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Delta River Inn Marina, Fraser River, Middle Arm to Home Port Mission

Sunny with a few Clouds




Two Freighters passing in the traffic lane off Point Grey in the Strait of Georgia





Small waves with whitecaps from the strong winds blowing in the river






Hyundai Freighter from China Heading Up River To Dock on top of Deas Island Tunnel






Mission Bridge and the Railroad Bridge








Gravel Barge on route up river to a gravel quarry just past Mission docks.




Home Sweet Home


Woke up at 0730 and made preparations to leave the marina for home.  The Captain left our card and our moorage fee on the MV Hi Dad, the Wharfinger’s vessel, as there was no one around on the dock to pay. 


We spoke to the Captain of the Corona from his work and he thought the river was going to be pushing against us but, in fact, we had an easy push up to the Port Mann Bridge and then we were slowed down by only a knot or so by the natural flow of the river itself.


We heard on the VHF that there was a gale warning in the Strait of Georgia so we were correct to make the crossing when we did.  The weather is very unsettled with only a small window of time to cross between a southerly storm and a northerly.  The wind made itself apparent as we came out of the North Arm and into the main river at New Westminster.  The sun came out behind us but the clouds ahead looked very stormy.  


As we approached the Port Mann bridge and passed the Pitt River we expected to continue to get little current interfering with our progress.  The flow of the river and the recent rainfall contributed to our slower speed.  The sun broke through and the rest of the trip was sunny and the pilot house was nicely warmed by it.  At one point we even opened the doors to let some cool air in.  Parts of the river where the wind could get in were as much as a one foot chop with small whitecaps.  


We always enjoy our trip out and back in the river.  We find ourselves wondering why more boaters don’t travel the river as an alternative to cruising across the Strait in the winter.  People have told us they fear the dead heads and debris in the water but we have been up and down the river for many years and not ever had a problem.  You have to keep your eyes open but that is true for all waterways. 


From the North Arm at Point Grey to our dock in Mission is approximately 37 nautical miles.  Even with a strong wind the river cannot built up much in the way of waves because of its constant twists and turns allowing for little fetch to build up to any where near what the mighty Strait of Georgia can throw up at you at any given time. 


The river from the ocean to the Port Mann Bridge in Coquitlam requires a sharp eye and an ear on the traffic channel as there are often ships and tugs at work.  That makes that leg of the trip always very interesting and exciting.  If you keep your boat well on your side of the road there is little need to be concerned. 


Once you are past the Port Mann Bridge there is little commercial traffic other than the odd tug pulling a log boom or barge.  This leg of the trip from Coquitlam to Mission is my favorite as it is the most scenic.  Herons, many different types of ducks, beavers, seals, eagles and river otters are often spotted on and near the river banks. 


It is not advisable to venture past the Mission Harbour docks without a pilot boat and even then, only in the summer months when the river is at its highest levels.  The sandbars are the problem north of Mission and require local knowledge to maneuver around them.  The trip up the river and into the Harrison River and on into Harrison Lake is one that several yacht clubs have done in past years.  Harrison Lake is huge and is a small sea in itself. 


Docks at Steveston in the South Arm accommodate transient boaters as well as the Delta River Inn in the Middle Arm or the docks at the River Rock Casino.  On route up the river docks at the opening of the Pitt River Bridge at the Gill Netter Pub are available for overnight users.  The docks are in need of a bit of repair in terms of collapsing bulwarks but they are still useable.  Current plays a part in docking there so some fore thought is required.  The tug boat traffic can create a bit of wake there during the day but the evenings are quiet.  Stopping there and having a bite to eat for dinner in the pub is something we often like to do if we have started the day on the Gulf Island side.  We have yet to cross the Strait and make it home all in one day. 


We also often anchor in the slough at Fort Langley where you can take lovely walks along the river or a stroll through Fort Langley itself snooping at all the quaint shops, eateries and antique stores.  There is a dock where the paddle wheeler from New Westminster ties up for a few hours on the weekends.  Tenders can be tied up here while strolling around town.   


Here at our home dock we are happy to welcome visiting boaters on our outside dock.  It can be a bit rocky when the tugs go by but that’s all part of the river atmosphere!  The good parts most certainly outweigh the bad ones.  If you find yourself up this way, call ahead and speak to our Harbour Managers at 604-826-4414.  Be sure to stop by and say hello to the Captain and crew of the Sea Foam!  







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