Rounding the Brooks Peninsula
01 September 2008 | West Coast Vancouver Island
Photo: Fog over the Brooks Peninsula
August 15. Winter Harbour to Columbia Cove, Checleset Bay (50 08.1N, 127 40.9W)
Although we'd like to stay and explore Quatsino Sound, the weather forecast calls for winds from the northwest, 10 to 20 knots except 20-25 south of the Brooks Peninsula. It always blows harder off the Brooks than anywhere else and a downwind sail at something less than gale force is an opportunity not to be missed.
We leave Winter Harbour at 8 am in light winds, raising sail as we pass the Quatsino light. We can see the Brooks Peninsula in the distance and a fogbank offshore. There's a goodly swell running as well as wind waves. The wind builds as we sail south. As we approach Cape Cook at the tip of the Brooks, the wind climbs to 20 knots and we prepare for even more by taking a reef in the mainsail. Then the fog comes in. The current is with us and we're sailing over the ground at 8 knots, through the water at 6 knots. With wind and swell we're lucky to have the current with us or the seas would be even worse. The biggest seas come off Clerke Point, the Peninsula's southeast corner. The wind builds to 30 knots and the seas run every which way.
We sail out of the fog and look back to see a fogbank rolling over the peninsula. The wind slackens as we round the corner and the peninsula starts to act as a lee. We sail a few miles further and the wind almost drops to nothing. We let down the sails and motor into Columbia Cove. We're back in "home" waters: the area of my book, Voyages to Windward.
The sun is out, the wind is light, it feels like summer. I put on shorts and a T-shirt and pump up the inflatable kayak. I'm paddling around the cove when I notice a red life ring hanging from a tree on a small island and go over to investigate. I read the name, S.V. Navigo, then "Bob" and "Camelia." I'm astonished to realize that I've met them and seen the boat. They were on the dock at the Nanaimo Yacht Club when we were on our way north. We were just starting our trip and they were just completing a clockwise circumnavigation of Vancouver Island. Since they were going the "wrong way" around the island as we usually do, someone had given them a copy of my book. They were waiting on the dock for me to sign it when we came back from shopping. Now we're the only boat in an anchorage that they visited too. It brings home to me how few boats actually visit this coast, the "wrong" way or the right way!