Posts

Showing posts from January 3, 2016

Shearwater to Bottleneck Cove to Bishop Cove

Image
May 27-28, 2015

The route north from Shearwater takes you west towards the mouth of Seaforth Channel, and as the name implies, it leads to the sea.  The first sheltered waters after leaving Shearwater are 15 or so miles away, and Seaforth has a reputation.

Ivory Island is the choice point.  If you don't like what you're experiencing, tuck into the channel that leaves Ivory Island Light to port, and work your way up through the protected Reid Channel. It is actually quite an attractive passage, but requires some close navigational attention (and tidal awareness).  If the seas are tame, leave Ivory Island to starboard and swing north in a wide arc into Finlayson Channel. This particular morning, Odin was elsewhere and we enjoyed a favorable tide that brought us to the mouth of Finlayson on kindly seas -- glassy, even, with but a hint of ocean swell.

We passed by Klemtu, a Tsimshian First Nations village that has fuel, provisions, and is served by BC Ferries.  Klemtu is creati…

Gunboat Passage to Shearwater

Image
May 26, 2015
You two guys are the ones on that little sailboat? We saw you out on the Sound, and all I could think was 'I'm glad I'm not them!' This from one of a pair of brothers on m/v Bedlam, a pretty Selene Ocean Trawler of about 55 feet. The word bedlam, I have recently learned, comes from Bethlehem Royal Hospital for the insane in London. We met our fellow inmates of the Inside Passage on the docks at Shearwater, a fishing resort and cruising nexus on the Discovery Coast. We would see her distinctive yellow hull again and again on the trip, as far north as Glacier Bay and Sitka.

Shearwater is unique on the Discovery coast. It has a capable boat yard, a good chandlery, quite a decent restaurant, clean shower and laundry facilities, a couple of gift shops, and a nice store for provisions. At this point, we were no longer shocked by $8 boxes of snacks, but the neatly-trimmed gentility of this resort and its facilities was a bit disconcerting after the primitive rem…

Logbooks and Weather Logs

Image
It will not have escaped the attention of even casual readers of these posts that they aren't exactly written in real time. I planned to blog the trip as I went along, but it quickly became evident that the essential elements of bandwidth, energy, and opportunity only rarely coincided. The best I could manage was to use Facebook for pictures and comments, and even that required usurous data charges while in Canada. Now, I'm working at recapturing the trip in greater richness.

The trip attracted a Facebook following of 60 or 70 people, and I greatly enjoyed posting notes and pictures of our progress. My ability to decorate the skeleton of the trip with the details of times, tides, and currents is largely due to notes in the log, and especially, the weather log, which we kept separately.

I say 'we', but Mathias deserves the credit for this. He established the format and content of our weather log, and that log brought focus to any changes taking place at the time, and a…

Fury Cove to Dawson's Landing to Codville Lagoon

Image
May 24 - 25, 2015

Dawson's Landing was a bit of a detour from our route, four hours (against tidal currents) inland along Rivers Inlet.  We needed fuel, and had read some favorable comments about it and decided we would go and spend the night.  Having crossed one of the two exposed reaches of the trip, we felt pretty relaxed about our progress.

As early in the season as it was, there was no one else there when we arrived.  The store was closed (though the proprietor opened for us and we bought fuel and some provisions and paid for a place on the dock for the night).

Oh... and showers.  The most expensive shower I've ever had at $80/hr CDN.  If you haven't taken a 2 minute shower lately,  try it... it takes a bit of planning. As I recall, we did a bit of laundry there, too. Still early in the trip, we suffered delusions of needing freshly laundered t-shirts. The cost of doing laundry cured that before long, and even showers became less compelling.

Do I sense wrinkled noses…

Finally... The Cape!

Image
May 23, 2015

OK, OK, we're not talking about Cape Horn.  But this was my first time in these waters, and one does not take them lightly.  Our previous day's travel brought us further than I had planned, so we felt optimistic about rounding the Cape and getting to our target destination, Fury Cove.

The interaction of currents, winds, and river outflows in this area can be treacherous and difficult to predict. Add this to the exposure to the Gulf of Alaska, and you begin to understand why rounding Cape Caution is a big deal.

The large volumes of river outflows meet a flood tide, and turbulent, confused seas can result. A strong ebb tide confronting westerly winds, and turbulent, confused seas result.  Confused seas -- waves traveling in semi-random directions -- are particularly dangerous as they meet and their amplitudes are additive. Two three-foot waves meet at an oblique angle and become a 6 foot wave. Ugly.

My distinct recollection of this day is that we were most concerne…

Staging for Cape Caution

Image
May 21-22, 2015
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.

The Inflection Point

Image
May 21, 2015
When I crawled into my berth in the quiet of Waddington Cove, I didn't expect to sleep well. Each of the early days of the trip had been marked by one or another crisis -- mostly small things, but issues that eroded the confidence of a skipper on the most ambitious trip of his life.  I had engaged the imagination of both of my children, and three of my closest friends, and each had committed time and treasure to sharing in the adventure.

What was I thinking, to campaign a 26 foot boat to the northern reaches of the Inside Passage, meet a complicated time schedule in the face of Spring weather, and keep crew and vessel safe in waters and conditions new to me?

For all my doubts, I did sleep that night, but in wakeful intervals I also thought about our problem and the resources available to solve it.

Mathias had twice been in the water on the trip, albeit in hot sun, and for a couple minutes at a time. The circumstances now mitigated against going in.  It was colder -- …

Shoal Harbour to Forward Harbour, and on to the Broughton Archipelago

Image
May 19-20, 2015

Tidal schedules and our pre-ordained stopping places had kept our daily distances relatively short for several days, and this day would be no different.  Shoal Bay to Forward Harbour covered only 20 miles, but necessitated another wait of several hours (at Whirlpool Rapids).  An easy day, warm and sunny (and another swim for Mathias).

We got through Greenpoint Rapids easily, but reached Whirlpool 2 hours past slack water, the tide flooding against us.  I thought we might be able to sneak through on the strength of Ripple's 9 horse iron jenny, and we easily crept up to the rapids in the back eddies off to the side.  We pulled into the slipstream of the rapids at full throttle and got almost to the nav marker on the shore that marks the narrowest point in the rapids.  Speed over ground dropped quickly to zero, and we peeled off and circled back to the side where we dropped the hook and enjoyed the sun for 3+ hours.

Our destination for the day was a scant mile or so …

On the Seventh Day...

Image
May 18, 2015

Day seven dawned with Yuculta (YEW cluh tuh) rapids on the horizon. The first of 5 rapids over a 20 mile stretch, these tidal gates separate Desolation Sound from Johnstone Strait and the Broughton Archipelago to the North.  Yuculta, Gillard, Dent come all in a flurry (about 4 miles). Beyond them is Greenpoint rapids, and then Whirlpool rapids.  They are gates in several respects, not least of which is that they separate serious boaters from the crowd.  Above this point it is colder and transit planning is daunting for casual boaters, so the traffic beyond Yuculta is perhaps a tenth of what it is in the Desolation sound area.

We arrived  at the mouth of Yuculta in early afternoon and as we were ahead of slack water at this point, we had some time to hang out. Around this time we were approached by a whale watchers excursion boat who was apparently on the threshold of losing his fares, as they had been skunked in their quest for whales to watch.  He was making calls to c…

Desolation Sound, Here We Come!

Image
May 17, 2015

Leaving Powell River was a departure of some import. We had had two very nice social encounters - one at Jedediah, the second as beneficiaries of Alane's dinner table, and these fed the soul as well as the body, salve to the wounds to my confidence of the dipstick screw-up.  I had been to Desolation Sound and on up to the Broughton Islands in previous years, crewing for Terry on SailMates.  But this was new territory for Ripple, Powell River having been the northern-most excursion under my hand.  It was with some eagerness that we started the short trip north to Desolation Sound.

We had scarcely begun when the chartplotter, newly purchased for this trip, began to act strangely, refusing to zoom properly, and on a couple of occasions displaying the Blue Screen of Death! Rebooting is about the limit of my diagnostic competence, which I had to do several times. After a bit, it smoothed out, however.  In any case, we had no navigational difficulties -- we had back-ups, p…

A Mid-day Dark-night of the Soul

May 16, 2015

Our perfectly-timed rendezvous at Jedediah afforded us an easy next-day up to Powell River, where Terry and Alane live.  We looked forward to dinner with them prior to pushing north to Desolation Sound.

Jedediah is nestled between Lasqueti Island to the south and the long stretch of Texada to the North, and a good weather forecast augured well for this shortish day.  It turned into the psychological nadir of the trip.

I did our preflight inspection, paying close attention to oil and fuel lines.  My Rescue-Tape jury rig of the leaky banjo compression washers was holding up well, and the oil levels were fine.  I had neglected to push the diesel cut-off choke cable when I tried to start the engine, and the result was a belching exhaust, the visual equivalent of farting loudly in public.  Embarrassing, but easily rectified, the engine then started fine, and each boat peeled away from our raft-up.

Terry led the way north along the 30 miles or so of the west side of Texada.  Af…

Bedwell to Nanaimo to Jedediah

Image
May 14-15, 2015

Flush with the success of extracting the Hook of Paranoia, we waltzed northward through the Gulf Islands accompanied by sunny, warm weather.  Careful to stay out of the way of the early morning ferry traffic, we worked our way up Captain's Passage past Salt Spring Island, then past Mayne, north along Galiano, Valdes, and Gabriola. We put up the drifter, our first canvas of the trip, and motor-sailed, reluctant to enjoy the peace of diesel-less travel as we had a tight schedule to make it through Dodd Narrows at slack water.

We cleared Dodd on the flood tide (just) and finished the day in Nanaimo -- at the mooring balls at Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park.  Nanaimo has a number of marinas convenient to downtown for those who want to take advantage of Nanaimo's charm, but the park anchorage is convenient to fuel, city views, and has easy-access to Newcastle Island. The entire island is parkland, with pleasant trails, lovely views of the Georgia Strait, an…