Table Island to Winter Harbour
22 August 2008 | West Coast Vancouver Island
Photo: Table Island.
Aug 12. Fly Basin to Table Island. We sit through a morning of rain and light winds then turn on the weather radio. The forecast for the next day has changed from southeast gales to southeast 10-20. It's not the northwest winds we were hoping for but it sounds like it might be the best we can expect. We decide to leave the next morning.
We up anchor and motor out, looking for an anchorage closer to the mouth of Smith Sound. We've got a long day the next morning and cutting five miles off our trip could make the difference between entering Winter Harbour in the daylight or dark. We first go to Jones Cove, a narrow little nook on the south side of Smith Sound. We put our anchor down and find we're right up against a rock wall. If we move out further, we'll be in the swell. We leave and motor out to Table Island. By now it's raining and all we can see of the island is a dark shape in the mist. We anchor in a bight between Table and Ann Islands. It's a wild and isolated place with sea stacks, wind-swept trees, and the sound of surf on the far side of the islands. It's also a rolly anchorage after a day of storm and neither of us sleeps well that night.
Aug 13. Table Island to Winter Harbour (50 30.6N, 128 01.4W).
We get up in the dark to leave at 6:00 am. The fog has cleared and the wind died to almost nothing. We motor past the lighthouse on Egg Island and into the open waters of Queen Charlotte Sound. The wind comes up from the southeast and we raise sail, then the fog rolls in. We're just sailing out of the fog when I see a black object rear out of the water ahead. Orca! The wind's dying and we should turn on the engine but instead we just drift watching that black dorsal fin slicing through the water.
The Orca swims away and we turn on the engine. The weather radio predicts 25 knot southerly winds on the north part of the West Coast of Vancouver Island. It's hard to believe out here where the sea is almost calm but as we approach Scott Channel, the wind picks up. We'll have wind against the tide, just the situation guidebooks tell you to avoid. But we get through the Channel okay, with only moderate seas. Then it hits: stiff winds and seas going every which way. It's 1:00 pm already and we still have 30 miles to go before we get in. We take down the mainsail and power through the seas. Wind and waves are right on the bow making for a very uncomfortable ride. Sailing might have been more comfortable, but we wouldn't have gotten in before dark. The wind eventually dies but the waves keep coming and most of the time we're only doing 4 knots. When we finally round Quatsino light and enter the quiet waters of Winter Harbour, I breathe a sigh of relief. Winter Harbour might be no more than a scruffy little town in the middle of no where, but it sure looks good to me!