05/25/2011, Princess Louisa and Pender Harbor
Cruising the National parks or Yosemite by boat.
We've been in Princess Louisa for 4 days now. It's gorgeous, awesome, jaw dropping beautiful! When we arrived on Monday, it was raining, cloudy and mists clung to the hillsides. We opted to pick up a mooring ball on the back side of MacDonald Island and make our way to the end in the morning.
We awoke Tuesday to see bits of blue sky and and a few clouds playing around the tops of 2,000 foot mountains! WOW! Time to get moving. We motored back around the island and into the channel, to the end of the inlet to Chatterbox Falls. We pulled up and took a spot on the dock, with our bow pointing right at the falls.
There was soooo much water coming over the falls, it was just a sheer white wall. In our 2 miles from the mooring ball, we saw too many waterfalls to count. Some were mere trickles, others full blown falls from 2 and 3 thousand feet up! Pretty amazing.
In the past couple of days, the falls have decreased quite a bit. Chatterbox Falls is down enough to see the rock wall behind it. Several of the larger ones on other cliffs has stopped altogether, and the snow pack at the very top, seems to be about ½ of what it was when we arrived.
I've been to Yosemite National Park and was amazed at the size of it. Perhaps, it would be better to describe how small a person is when standing in the valley, or while climbing up one of the rock faces. Princess Louisa has that same feeling. The water way is about ½ - ¾ mile wide. But the height of the mountains and sheer rock walls make everything seem miniature.
A dinghy passed by us while traveling along the shore. They were hardly visible. I made sure to take pictures just to give the photo some scale. Even with a recognizable object in the photo, the scale is, or seems way off!
The weather has improved since we've been here, and each day we've decided to stay ' one more day'. This morning the air was clear, crispy, the sky blue and the sun warm. It truly is like camping way up at altitude, in your boat! If you could sail your boat into Yosemite Valley, you'd be pretty close to the views in Princess Louisa.
We spent quite a bit of time off photographing the area, by foot and dinghy. Each day the light was just a bit different. Tom had a chance to join a couple of guys and went fishing outside the rapids. I guess the ride through the rapids was an "E" ride! He survived the rapids and came back with green ling cod, that was filleted and shared at a potluck that evening. We had 16 folks gather for dinner, and some good food was shared. We've enjoyed the fresh mussels, -curried, fresh clams- butter and garlic, and fresh oysters,-grilled, and pickled.
While Tom was fishing, I was invited for a kayak paddle around the harbor. It was gorgeous, and I SAW A BEAR!!! A small, ok, maybe not so small black bear, walked down a log to the beach. We were about 100 yards away. By the time we paddled closer, he'd dropped down to the beach, sipped some water out of the creek, the wandered back up the hillside. He was in the shadows at that time and too dark for photographing. Even with out the photo, it did happen!
A couple of projects, albeit small ones, were completed. After spending so much time the past months working on the boat, it was really decadent to just sit on the dock, in the sun, and watch the world go by.
We'd planned on leaving Sunday morning, but I'm sure Tom has written about 'fixing your boat in exotic places'! It's not as much fun as it sounds!
Our trip out was uneventful, although, a bit anxious. The rapids were flooding and we went through with about 1 ½ knots against us. The engine ran just fine, although we seemed to be bucking a current... isn't that always the case? Anyway, our trip back to Pender Harbor, was uneventful.
It was interesting entering the Princess Louisa inlet. I had the most unusual sensation of sailing downhill. It was a very strong sensation. When we left on Monday, I felt that we were sailing uphill!
Maybe it was just the height of the mountains around us, but very strange. I didn't get that sensation when traveling up or down the channel to get there,just once inside the rapids.
It was a great place to visit. Now onto other great finds!
05/25/2011, Princess Louisa-Chatterbox Falls
50 12.2'N:123 46.1'W
Princess Louisa - Chatterbox Falls
We headed out of Pender Harbor on our way to what many have called the Holy Grail of PNW cruising, Princess Louisa Sound and Chatterbox Falls. The day if off to a gloomy day, with rain, then mist then low clouds all around the area. In pulling the anchor chain up, it had more sticky mud on it than I have ever had to clean off! I am so happy about the wash down pump and sprayer I installed this last year just for that problem. With out the wash down, much of that sticky, smelly mud would come into the boat via the anchor chain locker, which is right next to the head (bathroom).
We sailed out of Pender at about 9:30 and headed up Agamemnon Passage, a short cut of sorts for us to get to waterways that will take us 40 miles deep into the mountains. In calculating our time to get there, I did not count on there being quite as much current that we had to fight the entire run the through Agamemnon, so most of the way we were down to a little over four knots....like sailing through peanut butter.
Once we got up into the next waterway, the Prince of Wales Reach, we had less current against us and more with us so we were able to make up for lost time at well over 7 knots of speed. This additional miscalculation would come back to bite me later. The third waterway we traveled through was the Princess Royal Channel, and then Queens Reach. It is really hard to describe the feeling of sailing down these long waterways, with 600-800 feet of water below you, and in much of the trip 2000-3000 foot sheer rock walls above you. We were also greeted with a special treat, one that I am sure that you can not accomplish in but a few place around the world! We got to see Mountain Goats, from a sailboat. These are beautiful white goats, that live in some of the roughest terrain anyway. Jeanne was the first to spot them, and we then went on to see well over a dozen.
Most of the trip was a cold nasty wet uncomfortable run, and we both spoke the praises of the enclosed cockpit! This would have been a miserable day with out it.
The last waterway we would travel down in the Princess Louisa Sound. In order to get to this you must pass through the Malibu Rapids. Yes, I said RAPIDS! To me this conjures up thoughts of whitewater rafts and kayaks, so there was a little apprehension in the boat as we neared the spot where we would turn and enter them. To my limited knowledge, sailboats were not designed for any travel that includes the words RAPIDS. We have taken along several good charts, maps and travel guides, one of which says to look at the rapids to see if they are still churning and boiling. They recommend not entering if they are, and boy were they! Now we are back to that small timing miscalculation on my part,,,we` were too early. We still had the main sail up and just drifted around for an hour waiting for the slack tide that would flatten out the path through the rapids. As we waited several other boats (ones with better timing skills than me) started showing up, and waiting to go through at slack tide. This wasn't an all bad thing as we would get to see another boat go through ahead of us. The route trough is a narrow "S" shaped curve, that is really just wide enough for one good sized boat, so the etiquette is to call on the VHF radio and let anyone on the other side know you are coming trough. Jeanne made the call and there was no reply, so in we went. Well, let's just say we were a little worked up about nothing, as it was nice and flat, with 25-30 feet of water. Wheew!
The last part of the trip is a 4 mile run up to the falls, and all of the boats ahead of us were almost in a race to get there. We ere in no hurry, so we stopped at a small island called MacDonald Island where they have installed several mooring balls. We had the area all to ourselves, tied to the one that was in a small cove on the island and had dinner!!
The weather still sucks, but we are here. We are hoping for a break in the rain since we are not able to even see the tall mountains that surround us. Perhaps tomorrow!
WOW!! the weather is amazing! We woke up to bright sunny sky's, and a view that is amazing. The picture above is the view from off the boat from the mooring ball that we grabbed in the rain last night. The sound is virtually cut right out of the mountains, with 3000-5000 foot sheer walls going up from the water.
There must be 50 waterfalls cascading all around us, varying in size from small little ones less than a foot across to huge ones that must drop thousands of gallons a day. Many of them fall several hundred feet, bouncing from cliff ledge to cliff ledge until they finally meet the sound.
I was very excited to get to the end of the sound, and see the famous Chatterbox Falls. I am sure Jeanne thought I was like a little kid waiting to go to Disneyland. So we were off the mooring ball early and up the sound we went! Chatterbox falls is beautiful, but a little bit of a let down. It really doesn't fall that far, and really isn't that wide, but the area that surrounds it is absolutely amazing! Jeanne description of the area was that it was like sailing your boat into Yosemite park. To me it was like being back on Colorado again, seeing and experiencing the tall snow capped mountains, and glacial moraines but not having to have a 65 pound back pack on my back!
We pulled up to the dock, tied up and almost immediately headed out on the dinghy to go explore, and get some pictures of the various waterfalls.
We sent quite a bit of time shooting pictures. I got to add two ne birds to my list, the Yellow Rump Warbler and the Yellow Warbler. I was never really able to get a great shot of the Yellow Warbler as he stayed pretty high up in the deciduous trees. The rest of the day was spent...well...just chillin'!!
The morning broke as the brightest clearest day I can remember in a long time. Not a cloud in the sky, warm and the mountains were even more spectacular if that is possible. We visited with some of the folks on the dock that we had met, and planned on going to the mooring balls this afternoon in preparation for leaving on the early morning tide, at 6:30. Pat off of MV Pegasus walked down, as she had heard that we were leaving and tried to convince us to stay one more night now that she was rounding up a dock party/pot luck for dinner. Boy did she twist our arm, as we said YES in a heart beat. We have no where to go, so why miss a good party? Then she mentioned that her husband, Stew was going fishing for ling cod, and she was sure there was room for me if wanted to go, well, that sealed the deal!! Stew, Clark off of the Trimaran "Rickky Tikki Tavi and I loaded into Stew's tricked out dinghy, and headed out through the rapids to fish the outer sound, as the water here in Princess Louisa is a no fishing zone. I hooked a nice ling right off, but he was only about 20 inches and the have to be 26 inches to keep them. We caught a few rock fish, that all went back in, and another small ling that Clark hooked. Then Clark hooked a nice fish that was putting up a pretty good fight, but alas, like all huge fish, it got away. Now it was my turn to hook a monster. He was ripping out line like crazy, but I got him slowed, and started to gain line back, then another run, with more line lost. Just as I started to gain some ground, he was gone...We caught a few more small rock fish, and then got read to move to another spot. I was starting to bring my line in when I got a very nice hit, after a nice little battle he was in the net, a nice 28 inch Ling!! YES!! there will be fresh fish tonight at the pot luck!!
After he was fileted, we held back a couple of nice chunks for us, and barbecued the rest with a sauce that Jeanne whipped up. There was enough so that all 14 people at the pot luck got some! It was great!
Right after fishing, Clark and I took our dinghy back down by the island and gathered a large bucket of mussels and oysters, there were so many that it took us a bout 10 minutes to have both of our limits.
While we were fishing, Jeanne got invited to go for a kayak with Pat, and even got to see a bear, but I will let her tell that story!
WOW...when we started planning all this, these are the kind of days I had dreamed about...and today one of my dreams came true!!
and we are still in Princess Louisa. The weather is still wonderful, and well, why leave now? Our next stop is to be some where in the Desolation sound area, where we will spend the balance of the summer exploring. There was a bit of a mass exodus out of here this morning, as over half the boats here all got up at 6 am to head to other destinations. We though about doing the same thing but this weekend is a three day holiday for Canada, and we figure that many of the areas that we planned on heading to will be crowded, and since we like this place, why not hang around a bit longer?
The weather finally turned sour. It started raining late Friday evening, and did not let up all day. We spent all day inside mostly reading. Clark had some excellent books on the technical side of digital photography that he loaned us. We were in bed early as we are off the dock in the morning before 7:00 to make the slack
05/15/2011, Spencer Spit
A few weeks prior to our starting this adventure, Jeanne and I were sitting at the table going through notes and lists and more lists making sure we had every thing done. She looked up, paused and then said, "What are we going to do on this trip, is there a goal or project that we should focus on"? Well, umm, I guess if I have a goal, or a pet project it would be to continue photographing the various bird species that we encounter on our trip. I have spent a lot of my time shooting pictures of birds, as far back as I can remember. I was given my Grandfathers Leica camera when I took off for college, and still have some amazing pictures from those days when I really didn't know what I was doing. Many years and many cameras later, am still chasing our fair feathered friends around, and now, around the globe. I have featured a few here in our blog, and I am sure I will continue to do so as this trip progress's.
Recently, at Spencer Spit, on the north end of Lopez Island, I was given a very special, unexpected treat. While sneaking up on what I thought was a Curlew (it turned out to be a Whimbrel) feeding along the rocky beach, I noticed that a couple of medium sized black birds were feed down the waterline towards me. I continued sneaking, crawling and general slow movement towards the water, in an effort to intercept the approaching pair. I recognized them as Black Oystercatchers ( Haematopus bachmani). The beach was wide open and so there was no way to get really close, but I had my 300mm camera lense so I would be able to get a pretty good shot from where I was. The pair continued to feed closer and closer, until at one point they must have realized that the big dark lump on the beach was not really supposed to be there.
I had taken a good group of pictures and was reviewing them before I left that position, just to make sure they were ok when I noticed the red and white leg band on one of the birds!! Now I was really excited. Very few people, other than duck and goose hunters every encounter a bird with a leg band. The hunters find quite a few as they are able to look much closer at the bird after it is harvested, along with the fact that more ducks and geese are banded than all other birds combined.
I now focused on this bird in particular, in an effort to record as much of the information as possible with pictures. The left leg was fitted with a plastic red band, with the letters "RR" in white. The right leg had a metal standard Federal Leg band, but I was not able to ever get any of the numbers off of it. The real true bonus of all this was that the bird was also fitted with a radio transmitter. The unit it self was not visible, but the thin antenna was evident sticking out beyond the tail feathers. In the photo above you can see the thin wire extending past the tail .
I have reported all the information to Federal Banded Bird Reporting Center, and at some point will receive a report about the bird. The person who banded the bird has a responsibility to provide any information they can about the bird, to the person reporting the sighting. In time I hope to have a complete story to tell about the Black Oystercatchers from Spencer Spit!
05/14/2011, see above LOL
Ok let me say this right up front!! We love Pender Harbor! This comes from several things...first we had a very easy crossing to get here, second this is a small very protected harbor, with great amenities. Third, the pub is very close, has great beer(even if it is a bit on the spendy side) with great WI-Fi coverage. A bowl of clam chowder is $12.00 but is huge and includes an entire king crab leg sitting on top of the bowl. Friday afternoon, the sun came out, and we were in shorts and tee shirts. Saturday we made a run into town to the grocery store to do a little bit provisioning.
For those of you that have been here, we are anchored around the corner in Garden Bay. It is very protected, and a lovely place to hang out.
We plan on heading up to Pricess Louisa on either Monday or Tuesday, depending on the weather.
05/14/2011, Center of Straight of Georgia
It's wrong..... just wrong to be sailing north, towards SNOW covered mountains!!!! There are NO palm trees in sight! Of all the folks we talked to about how great it was up in the Gulf Islands and Desolation Sound, I don't recall ANY of them saying anything about how pretty the snow covered mountains were! Did I miss something?
I'm sure that it has something to do with the fact that this isn't even mid May, (we'll just whisper the 13th of May, a Friday no less), and we're still in multiple layers. I'm not sure we've woken up to a morning were we haven't seen our breath inside the boat yet!
As I write this, we're in the middle of the Straights of Georgia. It's sort of sunny out, yet the breeze is very chilly. We checked and doubled checked the weather, the currents, the tides, the predictions and anything else we could have checked before deciding to make our crossing today. I guess we've only heard the horror stories about steep waves and ugly sea conditions, but today was just lovely. Ok, the wind was right on our nose for most of it, and we had to motor sail, but at one point the water was almost 'oily' calm. We had higher sea and wind conditions heading past Salt spring Island a couple of days ago!
Later on in the day......
We are currently sitting in Pender Harbor, although the Latitude and Longitude readings for this posting are in the middle of the crossing. We've anchored in Garden Bay, just off of the Provincial Park. The Garden Bay pub is at the end of the bay.Their wind protected deck overlooks the harbor and has pretty good nachos! The sun is shining, and it actually feels warm! We sat on their deck enjoying a beer, until we learned they were $6.25 a piece. Kinda blew our budget for the night! We'll head back to the boat for some BBQ'd ribs. Tomorrow we'll find an wifi hook up and do some exploring.
05/12/2011, Silva Bay
We have really enjoyed it here at Pages Marina & Resort, in Silva Bay these last few days. It is a small resort and marina but clean and well cared for. Great wi-fi (since I am sending this) nice grounds and amenities, and lots of birds for me to chase around trying to get pictures of.
We are going to make the run, weather permitting, to Pender Harbor over on the main land of BC. This will take us across the Straight of Georgia, about 28 miles in all.
The picture above is of the new mascot perched in the grip of the "welcome Committee" on the front porch of Page's Resort Office. By the way we are still looking for ideas for a name for this cute little eagle. We have some great ones so far, "Rummy", "Lefty", and "Freedom" are in the lead.
There is supposed to be good wi-fi access in Pender so hoefully we will give you all a crossing report tomorrow.
Till then, thanks for following along :-)