Saturday, July 24, 2010

Island Hopping Part 2 – Sunshine Coast, Neil Diamond and Smitty’s Oyster House. Sigh…

I’m on my back staring at the deep blue summer sky. Tiny waves lap and splash under the dock and my world rocks gently back and forth.  While it’s probably carcinogenic, the smell of the creosote and tar that coat the pilings, the salty ocean and the sun baked wood of the dock combine forces and take me back years and years to when I was a girl and lay on this exact spot.

Gambier Island is an annual pilgrimage for me and I look forward to my next visit the very second I have left for this year. I could go on and on but instead I’ll give you my top-10 reasons  (in no particular order) why I love this particular part of the BC coast:

10. The waters of Howe Sound are actually warm enough to swim in without causing complete paralysis. There’s no sand, but there are docks and pier and the jumping and swimming is endless.


Witness Jacob in mid-leap off the pier at Gambier Harbour.


9. BC Ferries always figures prominently in the trip to Gambier as it requires three ferries.  It’s usually a beautiful trip and the kids are always in a good mood which slightly counteracts the fact that I did miss three ferries on the way there. So, to be clear, I don’t actually LIKE BC ferries, but I do find they offer significant blog material. For example, I’m pretty sure the 20 or so cars that made it as far as the on-ramp on to the Langdale Ferry at Horseshoe Bay also do not like BC Ferries. How exactly the ferry workers mis-judged that one I do not know. All I know is that nobody was happy at the prospect of having to back off the ramp, which is what all the cars and motorcycles had to do. As the lower deck was also full, they missed the ferry. Whoops!


8. Signage on BC Ferries.

Jacob and I also spent most of the 40 minute trip from Horseshoe Bay (or Horse-Poo Bay as the kids refer to it, based on the absolute lack of anything interesting or stimulating to be found there) laughing hysterically at the sign below. WTF.DSC06188

We were very unclear on what exactly the message was here but came up with several suggestions:

  • Caution: Assemble here for Human/Dwarf merging
  • Caution: Human/Giant Merging station
  • Caution: Angry Elves may appear from any direction – protect your children at all times

Any more suggestions? I’m going to send them to BC Ferries.

7. Lunch at Smitty’s Oyster House in Gibson’s. Once an marine shop, this funky building has undergone extensive renos and did they ever do an amazing job. Loved the bright blue brick walls, the black woodwork, the amazing old windows that seem to open 10 different ways, as well as the original boom that reaches out over the boardwalk and was used to bring engines right into the shop to be worked on. My cousin Mel, her husband Stuart, and Jacob and I came for lunch but would happily have stayed for dinner if we hadn’t had to catch a ferry. We were seated outside on the patio at a huge long table where we were instructed by our slightly offensive, but hysterically funny server, to sit in twos opposite each other. Other people joined us and it soon felt like one big lunch party. The wine and conversation flowed, oysters arrived, delicious crab cakes were devoured, halibut fritters (cooked to perfection) consumed in vast quantities, and all the while boats came and went from the marina, waves lapped under the pier, and happiness reigned. I will definitely be back at the next opportunity, if not sooner :)

6. Commotion by the Ocean. This was my second time attending this annual event on Gambier Island. Held as a fundraiser for the Island’s Community Centre, the concert features Island native Bobby Bruce who is perhaps better known as Nearly Neil as in Nearly Neil Diamond. I have never been a huge Neil Diamond fan, except in a ironic sort of way but can say that I am now a huge Bobby Bruce fan. In my humble opinion, this guy is BETTER than Neil Diamond. The concert consisted of a set of Nearly Neil (excellent) followed by an appearance by Abba Kid Abra, an Abba tribute band that I could have skipped, another set by the Gambier Band who were just awesome, and then another set by Bobby Bruce singing some tunes written by Gambier Island songwriters, some of his own work and a bunch of covers. This guy can sing with the best of them. Throw in a beer garden, pulled pork sandwiches and corn on the cob, and it was a great night. Slightly surreal, but great none-the-less.


Nice shirt, Neil.

5. My Aunt and Uncle’s house. I may have gone off about this before but it really is a little slice of heaven. The garden is idyllic, the house so cool and comfortable, and the company is always wonderful.

DSC06232 DSC06231





4. Cousins.






3. Potter Organics (AKA my uncles garden)DSC04374


2. My Aunt Louise’s Kitchen.

While she claims it’s all in the reading of the recipe, I beg to differ. Every last thing that comes out of this kitchen is delicious. Jacob will attest to this – he ate three full plates of Turkey dinner, followed by pie, as will Zoe who starts talking about my aunt’s strawberry shortcake about 11 months before we are due to go.

1. It really is sunny on the sunshine coast and it makes everyone smile. Just look at this blue sky:


Can’t wait to go back!

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