The old Mill Bay Marina has been replaced by a skookum new one, but our visit there is one of our favourite memories.

How many people remember the old Mill Bay Marina that blew away in a storm in 2010? A skookum new dock with a fantastic restaurant and other facilities has since replaced it,, but our visit to its eccentric predecessor is one of our favourite memories. Our Dreamspeaker cruising guide was right on when it described the old marina as “charmingly tumbledown”.

                                               The Zephyr tied to the dock in the old Mill Bay Marina.

We had chugged over in the rain from Tod Inlet after several nights on the hook, ready for some company and a chance to re-provision. But as we approached, we overheard an acrimonious dispute between the Mill Bay wharfinger and another boater on the VHF. We couldn’t make out the nature of the disagreement, but it ended with the wharfinger saying curtly, “Sorry. I can’t accommodate you.”

Not sure if that meant the marina was full, Frank put in a call  to request a slip for the night. To our delight, the answer was affirmative. “Just tie up to the fuel dock and I’ll get you settled,” the wharfinger said.

Sure enough, when we arrived he was waiting for us. He informed us that moorage was 80 cents a foot and he would throw in electricity for free “because you were nice to me.”

I must say that “charmingly tumbledown” dock had the appearance of being held together with duct tape and hay wire. There were a few small sailboats and power cruisers moored in the rotten, sagging slips, but most of the boats were runabouts, around 15 ft. in length and old. Some were partially submerged and one or two were completely underwater, although still held in place by mooring lines.

The “charmingly tumbledown” docks slanted from side to side and wobbled alarmingly when we walked on them.

A blanket of fat, shiny harbor seals covered the breakwater surrounding the dock. They weren’t the least bit afraid of us even though we stood only a few feet away.

Later, as I sat in the cockpit reading, a man in a motorized wheel chair zipped past, startling me. I fully expected to see him zip right into the water but its occupant knew what he was doing. In no time he had zoomed up the ramp and disappeared.

On our visits there, we truly appreciate the sturdiness and security of the new Mill Bay Marina, but at the same time we hold tight to our memories of the “charmingly tumbledown” old one.

Author: Mary Anne Hajer

My husband, Frank, and I are both retired teachers. We were in our fifties when we first set foot on a sailboat. Five years later we bought our Fraser 30, the Zephyr, and began spending our summers sailing the Salish Sea. Doing so has enriched our lives beyond measure.

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