Staging for Cape Caution
|Our neighbors, Joel and Dave, in Joe Cove. Fishermen extraordinaire, |
I would love to hang out with them till I was fat with fish and crab!
It was noon by the time we finished sorting out our propeller problem. Overcast, a falling barometer, and cool. Our late start mitigated in favor of a short jaunt for the day, a chance to catch our breath and relax in the quiet of the Broughton Islands as our attention returned to staging the trip around Cape Caution.
We consulted the guidebooks and decided on Joe Cove, a protected anchorage an hour away that has a float to tie up to (no need to anchor!). On arrival, we found that the the float had been condemned: more hazard than help. Seeing it, I recalled having been there with Terry a couple years before, but had forgotten how dilapidated it was. But the anchorage was pleasant, and we had the company of another boat.
Being alone in a beautiful anchorage is serene and exclusive, without threat of being disturbed, but meeting fellow cruisers can be among the greatest pleasures of a trip. After the challenges of the previous day, company looked very good indeed.
We spent most of the afternoon looking at charts and guidebooks, working through our strategy for the Cape. There are two approaches to the problem. The traditional approach is to start from Vancouver Island (Port McNeil, Port Hardy, God's Pocket....) and approach the mouth of Queen Charlotte Strait from the south. There is a lot of open water to cross that way, and in a boat as slow as Ripple, I am nervous about getting caught by rising weather.
The inshore route affords the comfort of closer access to hiding places and the (perhaps false) sense of security of a near shore. All well and good, as long as one isn't faced with the prospect of being pinned on a lee shore... a strong wind driving you into a rocky shore from which you cannot escape.
Probably the more serious threats to staying close to the mainland are the outflows of Slingsby Channel, Smith Sound, and Rivers Inlet. These river systems drain large areas, and the outflow pushes out into exposed waters. Opposing wind or tide results in confused seas of short, choppy wavelengths that are uncomfortable at best and can be treacherous and dangerous.
I had long decided to work our way up the inshore route, paying careful attention to the coves and hidey holes where we might seek refuge if need be. I'm not completely confident that this is the right strategy for us. Ripple is much more comfortable in large swells than in short chop, but my lack of experience (and slow speed) made me want to stay close in. As the day developed, it turned out to be a sound approach.
|Flotsam on misty, glassy seas in Richards Channel|
|The protected back channel (behind the Southgate Islands) into the Allison Harbour area |
affords substantial shelter from the Gulf of Alaska, but these wind-swept trees
testify to harsh conditions that prevail on these coasts