Voyages North

22 August 2016 | posted at Prideaux Haven, Desolation Sound
29 July 2016 | Posted at Hakkai, Fitz Hugh Sound
29 July 2016 | Posted at Hakkai, Fitz Hugh Sound
29 July 2016 | Posted at Hakkai, Fitz Hugh Sound
08 July 2016 | Posted at Ucluelet
08 July 2016 | Posted at Ucluelet
11 January 2016
30 August 2015 | posted at Maple Bay
30 August 2015 | posted at Maple Bay, B.C.
30 August 2015 | posted at Maple Bay, B.C.
21 August 2015 | Posted at Port McNeill

West Coast of Vancouver Island Featured in February 2017 NW Yachting

22 February 2017 | posted at Seattle
Elsie Hulsizer
Photo: Cruising sailboats tied to a dock below the Nootka Light in Friendly Cove. This photo appeared with my article.

Just in time for the 2017 Seattle Boat Show, Northwest Yachting published an article I wrote, "West Side Story" (I did not choose the title), about the west coast of Vancouver Island.

For those who enjoyed reading my book Voyages to Windward: Sailing Adventures on Vancouver Island's West Coast and are inspired to sail to windward themselves, the article provides some basic practical advice. Read about the West Coast's challenges -- wind, seas, fog and rocks -- and how to prepare yourself and your boat to meet them.

The February Issue, in which the article appeared, is still available (for a few more days only) at marinas and marine supply stores. And if you can't find a hard copy, you can always find it on line at

While you're at it, check out the picture of our cat Jack on page 97 of the same issue. He was NW Yachting's Pet of the Month for February.

Jack Contemplating Fame

Port Neville (Johnstone Strait) to Cordero Islands. August 18, 2016

29 August 2016
Photo: Sailing in Sunderland Channel

We exited Port Neville with our mainsail rattling in the stiff breeze. It was going to be a fast ride south down Johnstone Strait to our planned turn at Sunderland Channel, four miles away.

The Inside Passage in this area between Vancouver Island and the mainland is a maze of channels, offering a number of alternate routes south. Johnstone Strait, the most direct, is also the windiest and roughest. It's the route we usually take because it's the fastest and we're more apt to be able to sail. But today, we were planning to turn off at Sunderland Channel and take an alternate route to look for pictographs (see post on Roscoe Inlet for more about pictographs).

Once out of Port Neville, we let out the main, rolled out the jib and headed down Johnstone Strait, Osprey seemingly flying through the water.

"We'll never be able to get close enough to shore in this wind to find those pictographs," said Steve. "Let's just keep going in Johnstone.

But then we noticed our speed over ground was only five knots when we should have been at least seven. We hadn't checked the current in Johnstone Strait because we planned to be in it for only a few miles. A quick look at the current tables showed we had three more hours of ebb. We needed the flood. Wind against the tide would not only slow us down, it would make for an uncomfortable wet ride. Already, Osprey was bucking in the steep waves as we got farther out in the Strait. Steve, at the wheel, had to struggle to keep us on course.

"The side channels like Sunderland are supposed to be quieter," said Steve. "Let's try it."

Forty-five minutes later we entered Sunderland Channel. The seas quieted and the wind slackened. We skimmed along the shore on a broad reach. We could looking for pictographs after all, but we would have to look fast.

Shaw Point came into view, the site of the first pictograph on our list for the day. Steve had the binoculars. "I see it! You'll have about one minute to photograph it before we'll be past it. Can you do it?"

I had seen it too, even without the binoculars. As Steve steered the boat towards it I could see it was a copper clearly outlined in red. I quickly shot a distant image to put the pictograph in perspective, changed lenses to the telephoto, took two more shots, then a shot of our chart plotter to get the location. A quick glance of the camera screen showed I'd gotten good images.

Photo: A pictograph of a copper on Shaw Point, Sunderland Channel.
I was just putting my camera down when Steve asked, "What's that in the water? Is that an animal?"

I looked ahead and saw a dark shape approaching the beach. Two round ears stuck above the water. A bear! Would it get out of the water soon enough for me to photograph it? It seemed to be taking forever to swim just a short distance. "Come on, bear," said Steve. "Swim!" Just as we were about to pass it, the bear hoisted itself out of the water, shook itself off and climbed up the beach. I had just enough time to get a series of photos.

The bear had obviously been swimming across the channel from Hardwick Island, a distance of almost exactly a mile. We had heard of bears crossing channels like this, now we had seen it in real life.

Photo: Black bear climbing up the beach.

A beautiful pictograph and a bear, both in just a few minutes. I was glad we'd chosen the slower route.

We continued sailing up Sunderland Channel, motored through Whirlpool Rapids in Wellbore Channel with the flood, sailed again in Chancellor Channel, then finally, motoring through Greene Pt Rapids, ended our day at anchor in the Cordero Islands.

We had one of the best sailing days of the whole trip in channels we would normally expect to be calm.

Roscoe Inlet, B.C. Central Coast. August 5, 2016.

22 August 2016 | posted at Prideaux Haven, Desolation Sound
Elsie Hulsizer
Photo: A pictograph on a cliff in Roscoe Inlet.

I stared up at the straight black cliff that towered above our boat in Roscoe Inlet. Large vertical cracks interrupted the smooth rock, providing footholds for scattered trees.

We were looking for pictographs, native rock paintings in red ochre. One is reported to be near this cliff. Black rock does not make good background for pictographs and I was about to suggest we move on when I saw a white triangle in the black rock. Was that a red shape in its center?

Steve saw it at the same time. "That's it," he said, looking through the binoculars at the white triangle.

Steve motored Osprey to the base of the black cliff. I could see a string of red dots, a couple of faces and several unidentifiable forms. A ledge below had provided a platform for the artists.

One of our goals for the summer is to find and photograph as many pictographs as we can. If we find enough well-preserved pictographs, we might be able to produce a book. Nineteen pictographs are reported in Roscoe Inlet in a list assembled by Doris Lundy in a 1970 Master's Thesis for Simon Fraser University . And although we couldn't expect to find all she listed, we knew from a past excursion into the Inlet we would find many. On this trip we saw a painted rockfish, a whale, several faces, several coppers (shield-shaped copper sheets used as a sign of wealth) and a number of just plain blobs and streaks that might have depicted something originally. No one really knows exactly who painted them, except that it was Native Canadians (or Alaskans farther north), or why. We also don't know how old they are although some are estimated to be several hundred years old. Some can be aged by the objects they depict: square rigged ships and stagecoaches. None of the Roscoe Inlet pictographs we saw had such objects.

Roscoe Inlet winds its way into the interior for 21 miles. The Waggoner Cruising Guide describes the Inlet as "drop dead beautiful," which may explain why so many people go up there and never notice the pictographs. Domes, bowls, river valleys, sheer cliffs, and green forests of hemlock, spruce and cedar kept diverting my attention. Around every bend there might or might not be pictographs but there would definitely be dramatic scenery. We spent a day and a half there, anchoring at Boukind Bay the first night, Clatse Bay at the Inelt's entrance the second. Very little wind makes its way to the inlet head. When we reached the end of the inlet, we turned off the engine and drifted in the deep water, enjoying the scenery while we ate lunch.

If you go, don't just look at the scenery. Look close for the art.

Photo: Roscoe Inlet scenery.
A dome in Roscoe Inlet
Vessel Name: Osprey
Vessel Make/Model: Annapolis 44 sloop
Hailing Port: Seattle
Crew: Steve and Elsie Hulsizer (author of Glaciers, Bears and Totems and Voyages to Windward)
Elsie and Steve Hulsizer have sailed northwest waters since arriving in Seattle via sailboat from Boston in 1979. [...]
2015 blog covers trip to SE Alaska 2014 blog covered trip to Seymour and Belize Inlets through Nakwakto Rapids 2013 blog covered a trip to SE Alaska and back. We left Seattle on May 16 and returned September 9. 2012 blog covered a trip from Seattle up the west coast of Vancouver Island, then [...]
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Osprey's Photos -

Voyages North on SV Osprey

Who: Steve and Elsie Hulsizer (author of Glaciers, Bears and Totems and Voyages to Windward)
Port: Seattle