8/11/09: We caught the 8:40 am ferry to Alert Bay and enjoyed the scenery on the short 40 minute ride. Alert Bay is the 'Namgis First Nation's home located on Cormorant Island and houses 23 totems. We stopped at the visitor's center and received our brochures on all the sights to see. Besides the totem poles there are about 24 historic sites that were described on our guide. Since we were on foot we toured everything except the ecological park; I didn't have enough knee power to continue uphill to the trails.
The highlight of our visit was the U'mista Cultural Centre. The exhibits included ceremonial regalia confiscated during the ban of potlatches that now have been repatriated back to First Nations tribe. As I learn more of the history of the First Nations, as well as, all native Indian tribes I struggle with the ways of the white man as they attempted to "civilize" this culture. Populations were destroyed with diseases such as small pox and fire water - alcohol. Missionaries added their misery as they tried to convert the "heathens" to the Christian ways.
I find two particular points quite disturbing: 1) the ban of potlatchs and 2) putting native children into residential schools away from their parents to teach them Anglo-European beliefs, values, English and a basic education. Per our brochure: "The word potlatch comes from the Chinook jargon, a trade pidgin formerly used along the coast. It means "to give" and came to designate a ceremony common to peoples on the Northwest coast and parts of the Interior. The potlatch ceremony marks important occasions to the lives of the Kwakwaka'wakw: the naming of children, marriage, transferring rights and privileges and mourning the dead. Guests witnessing the event are given gifts. The more gifts distributed, the higher the status achieved by the potlatch giver. It is a time for pride - a time for showing the masks and dances owned by the family giving the potlatch."
So I ask myself after reading the above description, how this can be a bad thing even in Anglo-European beliefs. How does this differ from giving gifts at Christmas, or for birthdays, or for weddings, or for any other religious ceremonies in any other culture? It really appalls me that these ceremonies were prohibited and the ceremonial gear confiscated. What bothers me even more was viewing the St. Michael's Residential School. Here 200 students separated from their parents were taught white man ways forgoing their language and cultural knowledge. So now generations later the elders are reintroducing the children to their history and language so it will not be lost forever. What a shame ...
Yet on the other hand I also struggle with what I see today - run down homes, boats in disrepair, junk thrown everywhere and extreme lack of caring. You can't change yesterday but they sure can do something about today and their future. The sights are conflicting in very many ways.
On a lighter note we made it back for our haircuts and Bob got a great one; I, on the other hand got clipped a little too short. I asked for a ½ inch cut off ... not leaving ½ inch on my head! Well the good news it will grow and doesn't take much to style it. Uff DA!
8/12/09: Times to move on as barnacles were beginning to grow on our hull. Not really but it seems like we have been here forever. Next stop was the fuel dock to spend some money ... not bad compared to last year. The fuel was $3.63 per gallon ...in '08 it was $5.70/gal. We were hoping for a nice sail across Queen Charlotte Straits but no such luck - flat water and no wind. Wouldn't you know that would happen? Since we had a bounty of crab from Pt McNeill, I got busy and cleaned most of them so we could have crab quiche tomorrow morning. Hummmm ... I have been hungry for this dish.
A humpback whale greeted us on our way into Wells Passage while we rode the flood tide up to Claydon Bay. We had blue skies in and around the clouds but no rain. Once anchored a nap was in order from our strenuous day of fueling and motoring.
Claydon Bay, Grappler Sound 50.56.235N 126.53.576N 28 NM
8/13/09: Our biggest challenge today was figuring out our next anchorage site. So we moved a long distance of 5 miles to Turnbull Cove. We are back in the land of cruisers since we shared the cove with 12 other boaters. Can't complain since everyone was quiet and kept to themselves.
We dug out the shrimp pot and got that set. What a hassle to drop 300 ft of line in quite a bit of current and wind but several dinners of shrimp was quite appealing. We took a dinghy ride around the neighborhood and checked out Roaringhole Rapids at Nepah Lagoon. What a sight watching the water pour into the Lagoon. We kept a safe distance since it wasn't high tide slack and didn't want to get sucked in; slack only lasts 5 minutes.
It was an easy fun day and not much else to report
Turnbull Cove, Grappler Sound50.57.682N 126.49.954W 5 NM
8/14/09: I seem to suffering from bouts of insomnia - don't even try blaming it on the naps, I didn't have one yesterday. I finally fell asleep about 4:30 am this morning. Boy this is sure frustrating as I lay awake thinking about everything in the universe, all the decades of my life and some that don't even exist yet. This usually happens when I am trying to solve problems at work ... not playing on the boat. I may have to resort to drugs! Some of the Canadian 222's will do the trick since they contain codeine.
So once we got going today, we took a hike to the lake and went for a swim. Although it was cloudy and cool the water temperate was about 70-72 degrees and felt quite nice. Saw evidence of bear scat along the trail but no appearance of Boo Boo.
Then it was off to check on our success with catching prawns. We were successful alright ... 2 starfish, 4 rock crab and 3 prawns. What a bummer - I was looking forward to a prawn dinner. Instead I repaired our poor Canadian courtesy flag that was getting whipped and bleached to death.
8/15/09: We had 2 birthday and 1 retirement card to mail so we stopped at Sullivan Bay for stamps and postal drop off. Sullivan Bay is a floating home community and has many services that a boater may need such as small store, post office, fuel dock, laundry, restaurant and float plane service. They also have a small dock area for short term visits such as ours.
Now I am going to brag a bit about my docking skills today ... I impressed all the people standing on the dock how I managed to maneuver our boat between two small fishing boats. We set up for a port tie and that's good since the boat backs to port. I was a little worried I didn't have enough space but I came in perfectly and maneuvered the boat forward and back several times and it nestled right up to the dock. I love it when it goes well and I have an audience. Usually no one is a witness when things go well ... only when they go all wrong. I even managed to get some kudos from the men standing on the dock ... including from Bob (those are rare!). By the time we got tied up, there was only a foot or so to spare up at the bow pulpit and barely enough room for the dinghy at the stern. It's so nice when it all works right - almost like a poker game as it keeps suckering you in on the successful hands or in this case, dockings.
Our destination is Greenway Sound . It has a lagoon to explore and a hiking trail to a lake. There is a nice marina too but we prefer to anchor; not interested in paying moorage fees unless we absolutely have to. We found a small bay behind Broughton Point at the east end of Carter Passage that will do nicely. Time to throw out the crab and prawn pots again ...
Carter Passage, Greenway Sound 50.50.242 N 126.49.916W 16 NM
8/16/09: Today we got our exercise hiking up to two lakes - Broughton Lake and Silver King Lake. We were on a BC forest service recreational site so the trail was well marked. Portions of it were the skid trail and road from the old logging days. A donkey engine, heavy cable and other assorted equipment lay strewn throughout the woods. The woods had an eerie creepy feeling about it - like any moment you encounter trolls or bears. At the first lake we rested on a log picnic table and viewed the surrounding evidence of logging activity. We continued on and the trail got more interesting going thru some more "Hansel & Gretel" type woods and then onto the old log skid pathway that took us up to the second lake. Although a little mossy and slippery here and there, it was a pleasant hike. We found creeping wintergreen with its red berries (I thought it was Kinnikinnick) growing between the logs and expected to see Boo Boo any moment.
On our way back to the boat we toured around the Greenway Sound Marina to check out the dock systems and their facilities. It looked like a very nice place to moor and included a small restaurant.
I spent the rest of the afternoon recovering from our hike. P.S. skunked on crab & prawns!
Carter Passage, Greenway Sound
8/17/09: I am ready for some sunshine; it seems to be eluding us now for several days. I am losing my tan and summer blonde hair (what little I have left). Anyway today was totally overcast yet quite warm. We motored thru the fjord like waterways to Moore Bay, dropped anchor and took the dinghy over to Shawl Bay Resort.
To Chuck & Margie, we stopped and said hello to Carol, The Bead Lady. We both got hugs from her to pass onto to each of you. She was bubbly and fun to chat with and I enjoyed browsing thru her store - she really has some quality items to sell. I did manage to indulge myself on a couple pieces of her bead work.
Moore Bay 50.52.296N 126.34.076W 12 NM
8/18/09: Just when we bragged about how we enjoy anchoring and how well our windlass works ... life goes to hell. Sure enough this morning the anchor windlass was throwing a fit and wouldn't work. Bob finally got the motor to go after using the bar to turn the capstan a bit - why that did it who knows but it got us on our way.
We cruised by Pierre's Marina (home of the pig roast) and then by Echo Bay Marina who were hosting a bunch of large power boats. We decided to anchor in Shoal Bay, take the dinghy to Billy Proctor's museum and then wander about the marina. But the windlass acted up again and quit (after we got anchored fortunately) so Bob's play agenda got changed to a fix & repair afternoon. I had a book to read so I stayed out of the way except for when he needed a gofer.
What a yucky job pulling the motor out of the anchor locker, cleaning off all the rust and then prying one end open to see what the problem could be. Bob had checked all the electrical connections and they were all okay; turns out that all the motor brushes were now bits of fine powdery grit. Great ... just what we need. So Bob cleaned out the grit and tweaked on what was left of the brushes and got the motor to work. It's only a temporary fix so it is back to Port McNeill in search of replacement brushes or possibly a new motor.
P.S. This little cove is UGLY! Broken down float homes, abandoned logging activity, crab pots everywhere ...
Shoal Bay 50.44.111N 126.29.825W 14 NM
8/19/09: We are up early to get to Port McNeill by noon. Who knows what difficulty we will encounter finding parts and/or motor. Nothing like starting the day with fog and drizzle to get one energized and wide awake. We made it safely across the straits and anchored once again. The good news is here we should be able to catch more crab (last time we catch 9), do laundry once again and pick up a few groceries and wine. Oh well, this is the life of cruisers.
Pt McNeill 26 NM
10/15/2009, Winter Harbour to Pt McNeill BC
8/4/09: Since we had internet access here we stayed the day and caught up on emails and other personal chores. The day clouded over a bit and got much cooler. Outside the cove you could see 1-2 wave chop so the winds were humming down the channel.
8/5/09: Thanks to an email from Margie we found out Steve & Elsie were pulling an all nighter to cross from the Queen Charlotte Islands to Winter Harbor on the north end of Vancouver Island. We were planning to go to Winter Harbor ourselves so we had a good chance of meeting up with them.
We connected by radio out by the lighthouse and turns out they were only 2 hours behind us getting to the harbor. So we anchored together for the night and dined on fresh caught crab, pasta, pork loin, baked beans and salad. It was the least we could do for them since they travelled about 170 miles in +/- 33 hours. Jigger, their cat, was not a happy camper on this portion of the trip. Can't say I blame Jigger, it would be tough crossing for any of us.
Steve suggested before too many anniversaries passed of our respective 39th birthdays we should plan a trip to the Queen Charlottes. Even Elsie made the statement that travelling in Alaska was easy compared to the Queen Charlottes. Guess it is not for the faint of heart ...
Osprey had a leak in the heat exchanger which added to the worries of the trip. We all decided to sleep on the problem and tackle it the next day.
Winter Harbor 50.31.038N 128.01.654W 20NM
8/6/09: Winter Harbor mostly caters to sport fishermen and the occasional cruisers now days. Osprey moved off to the public dock to assess the heat exchanger problem further. We joined them by dinghy a bit later to keep 'em company and assist in any way, even if was just moral support. Bob supervised Steve by watching him flush out his engine with fresh water. Elsie & I visited the local store and picked up a few groceries.
Steve decided his best option was to head for Coal Harbour which had bus service to Port Hardy. This gave him choices on replacement or repair. So they departed to move inland and we headed north to Sea Otter Cove.
Finally about 20 miles into the trip the winds picked up and we pulled out the sails. We had a great sail until our first tack ... the jib sheets caught the forward dorade and ripped it out sending it to the deep blue sea. So we saved 2 gals of fuel and lost a $300 part.
Sea Otter Cove 50.40.721N 128.21.012W 29 NM
8/7/09: Sea Otter Cove's entry really really sucks ... I intend to scratch this anchorage off my list. Fortunately we came in at high tide and had plenty of depth - at lowest low water (the way Canada records it chart depths) we only have 9 ft. I saw those 9 ft two years ago - that prompted the purchase of the chart screen on residing in our cockpit.
Our plan was to leave about 5:30 am but once we got up it was dark, foggy and ebbing tide - not a time to leave Sea Otter Cove. Back to bed we went (we were awake half the night anyway worrying about getting out) to catch up on sleep. We finally got to leave around noon in the fog and made it safely out with a rising tide.
The trip around Cape Scott was totally benign - no wind, low swells, no waves and lots of fog. Once we got to Frederick Point the skies cleared, the water flatten to a milk pond and we had some sun. Nahwitti Bar crossing was easy and we cruised into Bull Harbor without any problems.
We picked up a VHF hail from Steve & Judy on Code Blue to Steve & Elsie on Osprey. Since Osprey was now in Coal Harbor we answered the call. Code Blue had just made an all night crossing from the Charlottes working their way to Winter Harbor. Sounds like their trip was going well and they were safe.
Bull Harbor 50.54.952N 127.56.182W 34 NM
8/8/09: Bull Harbor is the stopping place for cruisers waiting out weather or for timing to cross the Nahwitti Bar. The island that surrounds the cove is an Indian Reservation. There are two docks - one public and other belonging to the reservation. I understand that fees are being charged for using the docks but on the sign at the dock it also mentions a fee for anchoring. Now in my mind it will be a cold day in hell before I pay for anchoring - I have no problems paying fees to tie up. Last night after we arrived some guy honked his horn ... I have yet to figure out if that is some kind of signal that we are to go to shore and pay for anchoring in the bay. I decided if they wanted a fee they can row out and collect it! No one showed ...
I am beginning to think that Steve on Osprey has jinxed us. Up until this point we didn't have any mechanical problems - guess I didn't "knock on wood" hard enough. Bob was behind the helm as we were motoring down Goletas Channel - not a knot of wind from any direction; but the fog had lifted. I was getting ready to logon to the internet and got cut short with a yelp from Bob. The tach indicated we were losing RPM's. I took the helm while he was going to check out the fuel filter - it looked clean so he opened the cover to the engine and spotted the problem immediately. The ½ inch bolt holding the lower foot of the alternator had sheared off - the belt slacked and the entire alternator was in jeopardy of coming off its mount.
We shut the motor off immediately and pulled out the main sail just to maintain some steerage with the 5 kts of wind we did have. Eventually I pulled out the staysail to give us a 3 kts of speed to keep us moving forward. In the meantime, Bob managed to get the sheared bolt out and dug around his coffers of bolts to find something that work. No 1/2 " bolt was found but he ended up using a pin out of a galvanized anchor shackle. We were hoping it had the strength to keep us going. Where's the wind when you need it?
This happened just outside the bay to Port Hardy but we decided to keep going to Port McNeil, another 3 hours south and we made it without further incident. We knew we could anchor in Port McNeil and not worry about getting slip. Besides this is prime boating season and the marinas are charging a $1/foot. We are retired and too cheap!
We heard from Steve via Skymate and they are back in business. Stay tuned for the rest of our story tomorrow.
Pt McNeill 50.35.901N 127.05.625W 41NM
8/9/09: Today was laundry day (ohhhh clean sheets & underwear!) along with a few misc chores and errands. The owner of the fuel dock also owns the marine supply shop and he was willing to open up the store to help Bob out with our sheared bolt; we are back in business. The propane tank and dinghy fuel are topped off now so we can mark a few things off our list.
The rains and wind started in about 5:00 pm and didn't stop thru the night. I was getting rather spoiled with the good weather we were having. But it's ok - the boat needed a rinse and the rains helped the fire fighting.
8/10/09: Ok enough rain already ... the winds and rain never stopped the entire night until around noon today. Yuck! It finally let up and we made it to town to get groceries and wine, both equally important.
Today I am celebrating my 17th anniversary of my 39th birthday. I stole this saying from Steve Hulsizer and I find it a much better way of declaring my age. Bob, the great hunter/gatherer managed to pull in 7 crabs so my birthday dinner was quickly decided. White wine, salad, pasta and crab ... what more could a girl ask for ... ok maybe there is one other thing.
Tomorrow we are taking the ferry to Alert Bay for a half day of touring then back for haircuts. Bob is looking like a long haired (gray) hippie and desperate for a barber; but the closest one is in Port Hardy. So get this ... he is actually going to come with me to a salon to have his hair cut. This ought to be good, I may have to bring a camera. The gals at the salon promised they would install a barber pole outside the door so he felt at home!
10/14/2009, West Coast of Vancouver Island
07/15/09: Cruising stories are not all about sailing, exploring and fishing ... they also include getting basic chores done like grocery shopping, banking, and laundry. Just like checking out new coves and bays for anchoring, grocery shopping and laundry can be just as interesting. The Co-op grocery store had a nice selection of everything you need and everything you don't need but desire. The only hassle is getting your wine or beer - it is only sold in liquor stores.
Now the laundry scene was entirely different and not in a positive way. Since Ucluelet caters to tourists, fishermen, cruisers, and campers one would think have a clean working laundry mat would be in the town fathers' best interest. But such is not the case ... and nice people do finish last as the old saying goes.
Having only 5 working dryers compared to the 8 washing machines doesn't make for a short laundry stint. Then to add fuel to the fire, the dryers would eat quarters without giving you drying time. But it doesn't stop there, the place was busier then hell and locals would butt in line taking dryers ahead of those of us washing. It was not a pretty sight ... I had only one dryer to dry 4 loads of laundry.
I had several glasses of wine to cool my fury and frustration after 3 ½ hrs of laundry duty.
7/16/09: Larry has written us and decided we are in severe need of supervision ... apparently we are not living life on the edge and leaving too many "fun" things on the table. What he needs to learn is how to pace yourself in retirement ... otherwise you will need a vacation from your retirement.
So to ratchet up our fun factor, we decided to explore the Wild Pacific Trail that runs along the west coast of the peninsula that Ucluelet is located on. The trail skirts the rugged coast line and will eventually join a proposed trail that continues thru the Pacific Rim National Park. This park lies between Tofino and Ucluelet.
The trail is first class and accessible for people of all ages and physical shape. It has gorgeous scenic overlooks, benches, graveled walkway and easy terrain. For a gimp like me, it was heavenly and very enjoyable. There are 8.4 km of trails of which we walked about 4 km in addition to the hike thru town and back getting to the trail. Fog engulfed the area for most of the walk but patches would clear enough to see the rocks and coastline.
We had lunch on the Canadian Princess Restaurant with clear skies and sunshine. The Canadian Princess is an old 235' hydrographic survey ship now permanently docked in Ucluelet and serves as a hotel and restaurant with fishing charters and marine eco-adventures. It was quite enjoyable to watch the activity around the marina with chartered fishing boats coming and going. The commercial fleet seemed to deadly silent.
07/17/09: It's time to move on to Clayoquot Sound and when better to leave than in the FOG! Last year I had a major brain drain keeping myself orientated in the fog. I was determined this time to chase the compass and keep us on track instead of gluing my eyes to the electronic chart. It worked much better! No cussing, no tears, no giving up the helm to Bob or "LeRoy", our autohelm.
The fog didn't clear off until right outside the entrance of Tofino. Our biggest fear factor wasn't the fog or the swells/waves it was the damn crab pots that littered the entire 25 miles up the coast. Little did I know the pots I saw outside were nothing compared to the quantity we encountered motoring up Lemmons Inlet. I swear there were at least 150 crab buoys to dodge around while trying to stay out of the swallows ... isn't there laws against encumbering a navigable waterway?
Our destination was Adventure Cove where Robert Gray, captain of the fur trading vessel, "Columbia Redivia" wintered in 1791. I wimped out when I saw how small and swallow the cove was as the gusts whipped up to 25 kts. We anchored across the bay in "God's Pocket" in much deeper water with better swinging room. So call me chicken ... I don't care ... this boat is also our home ... no need to endanger her.
Lemmens Inlet, "God's Pocket" 49.12.751N 125.53.369W 31 NM
7/18/09: After reading some more of Elsie's book we decided to go to Heelboom (C'is-a-quis) Bay to explore some more of East Clayoquot Sound. This particular bay was the site of a 1984 encounter between Tofino residents and loggers over the clearing cutting tactics occurring in BC. Apparently this clash of cultures has gone down in the history books hopefully clearing the way to a balanced lifestyle and use of economic resources.
It is a pleasant, well protected cove and we shared it with a group of young kayakers (Bob could tell by the bikinis the girls were sporting ... hummm, I didn't notice). We all enjoyed the sunshine and the song birds warbling in full harmony.
Heelboom Bay 49.09.289N 125.47.813W 12 NM
7/19/09: After exploring the beach at Heelboom and almost indulging in skinny dipping (I thought about it but a doggone boat came in to anchor) we journeyed a whopping 4 nautical miles to Island Cove. We had the place to ourselves until all the tourist boats toured thru checking the shores for critters (I am guessing they were searching for black bears). Our main attraction for entertainment was watching the seals scare the fish into a jumping frenzy close to the boat. The eagles were quite enthralled with the whole show too.
Inland Cove 49.08.803N 125.46.064W 4 NM
7/20/09: I relinquished the helm to Bob as we worked our way by Tofino heading towards Matilda Inlet. I had a few chores to attend to on the internet and didn't want to miss a good connection passing by Tofino. Although tour boats, float planes and fishing boats were still quite active around the area it seemed to be much tuned down compared to years past. The poor economy has touched us all.
We wanted to visit Ahousat (A-hows-it) and hike to Gibson Marine Park. As you walked into the general store, it was like stepping back into history as well as into a junk store. You had to dodge around boxes and crap just to see what groceries were available ... I'd bet some of the goods dated back to the same age of the building, 1904. We chatted with the owner and his sister for a few minutes about the area - as far as I could tell the best thing they had going was the lovable golden retriever, Jessie. The store, restaurant, motel, dock and marine repair facility are up for sale ... and have been for quite some time. Anyone interested in buying it would have an environmental nightmare on their hands.
Marktosis, the native village on the opposite side of the channel from Ahousat, is the home to the Ahousat Band. We took a dinghy ride over to their cove and aside from almost being run over by all the water taxis we had a pleasant tour. It was sad, however, to view 7-9 sunken and abandoned ships lying about in the harbor. The local kids didn't care; they were gleefully jumping off the docks swimming about in the harbor. It was an unusually hot day with little breeze and it was tempting to join them. However, the water was not that appealing.
Matilda Inlet, Ahousat 49.18.620N 126.04.285W 23 NM
7/21/09: Yesterday going thru the anchoring drill was another chapter in WWIII ... I personally like deeper water to swing over any potential hidden rocks ... Bob on the other hand like shallower water. He has a habit of pointing to "other there" but "other there" is far too shallow ... I happen to like more than 4 ft under my keel. Since I am looking at the chart, the battle of wills begins especially when I make him review the tide swings from high to low. This is first one of "I told you so", as I mutter under my breath that occurs in the next 24 hours.
After breakfast we headed out to search for the trailhead to Gibson Marine Park ... apparently this is another "primitive trail" which I know I will curse the entire way; but it leads to the Whitesand Cove, a lovely wide and long sandy beach that we wanted to see and besides, we needed the exercise and get off the boat. Now both of us have read the guide books giving us an idea where to find the trailhead. I also mentioned to Bob that I saw a local cruiser head to this one corner of the cove that maybe the spot to look at. Well after being pooh poohed I dropped the subject.
We managed to dinghy to shore under power (it's mostly a mud flat) and tied the painter off a tree. Now we had just read the tide was going to rise another 4 feet and I was questioning our ability to get back to the raft after our hike. With an additional 4 feet, we would wade in water up to our waist or have to bushwhack our way thru brush. The marital hearing loss phenomenon strikes again. And this was "I told you so" number 2.
The hiking trail was rough but manageable ... thankfully it has been sunny and dry and only a third of the trail was mud (hey - a small miracle). To Larry, Karen, Sandy & Linda - this was like the hike at Sea Otter cove ... to Mona & Dick - this was like our hike to the falls at Punch Bowl cove only level. Anyway, the hike was worth it and the white sandy beach was spectacular and the day was clear and sunny.
After leaving Matilda Inlet we had a pleasant downwind sail for an hour or so as we worked our way to Bacchante Bay. Upon navigating thru Sulphur Passage (I earned some sailor stripes on this passage) and the narrow entrance to the bay, we were enchanted with the beautiful view that lay ahead of us. The steep mountains surround the bay with a large grassy area located at the head of Watta Creek. Surely we would see "Boo-Boo" the black bear at this site.
Bacchante Bay 49.26.910N 126.02.223W 11NM
7/22/09: The morning started off gray and overcast, a far cry from yesterday's sunshine. We were waiting for high tide to wander off and explore Watta Creek. We knew the creek (that's "crick" if you are from Montana) would shallow after about ½ mile but the need to snoop about was overriding. It didn't take long and our way was blocked with 3 blown down trees; no signs of Boo-Boo either and no wild berries to pick.
So it was off to Hot Springs Cove to enjoy a hike and soak in the warm water. Time to take a couple of "patience pills" to I could tolerate the tourists, speed boats and float planes. The planes especially annoy me, since they like to land right between anchored boats, I swear, just for the thrill of it ... or to impress their passengers. And true to form just shortly after arriving, two planes landed nearly at the same time - one between us and the two sailboats next to shore and second plane between shore and the two sailboats.
Bob wanted to change oil on the engine while it was warmed up so I got booted to the cockpit to read. By then the fog had burned off and the late afternoon sun was shining. Aside from reading, my other entertainment was watching all the tour boats gather up their flock and head back to Tofino. The government dock was a regular zoo!
Hot Springs Cove 49.21.831N 126.15.989W 14 NM
7/23/09: We waited around until about 2:00 pm, an hour before high tide, to start our hike to the hot springs. It was a gray foggy morning until about half way to the springs when the sun made its presence known. I love the boardwalk hike and surrounding forest; it feels enchanted. Well, maybe it's the 801 steps that I feel, who knows! Even with all the tourists coming from Tofino, it is sure worth the trip. This particular time was the best - high tide for deeper pools and sunshine!
The surge of incoming waves into the pools made everyone squeal with delight - the kids loved the motion, the adults loved the cooler water since it made the temperate just right. We enjoyed drying off in the sun and watching the ebb and flow of the waves splashing into the rocks. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon! The hike out was slower - couldn't get my relaxed body to move very fast.
7/24/09: The weather was foggy and drizzly this morning but we needed to leave for Nootka Sound and get there before the winds kicked up to gale force. Outside Hot Springs Cove the seas were lumpy and confused - I knew I was in for a tough day. We put the main sail up to help stabilize the boat but the wind was so light it was useless. All we saw was fog, fog and more fog! We seem to have a knack to pick lousy days to travel.
We took advantage of this passage to make water. I love our watermaker; it is so worth the money. Although we are thrifty with our water, I still like the ability of showering every other day.
Finally saw a whale, I think it was a humpback but not entirely positive. By now, I have had my fill of being tossed around like clothes in a washing machine. The waves where easing but the swells were increasing in height, I would guess around 8 to 10 feet. The sun teased us a bit thru the fog but didn't make an appearance until ½ mile from our anchorage.
By the time we set anchor, I was beat, tired and had an upset stomach but at least I did not feed the fish. With what little wind we did have blew the diesel fumes back into the cockpit and added a whopping headache to my demise. I went back to bed and sleep for a couple of hours and didn't feel guilty not even for one second.
Bligh Cove 49.39.064N 126.31.186W 34 NM
7/25/09: Bligh Cove is named after William Bligh master of the "Resolution" on Captain Cook's third and fatal expedition in 1778. Bligh is famous for the mutiny on his ship, "Bounty" years later. This whole area of Nootka Sound is loaded with maritime history especially in Friendly Cove. We had planned to visit this cove, the lighthouse and walk the beach once again as we did two years ago but the winds and waves were not being cooperative so we sailed instead!
Our downwind sail took us thru Cook Channel to Bodega Cove. I still felt out of sorts so we a lazy afternoon reading and napping. I know you are wondering, how many naps can a person take? Well it is not hard when you spend the entire day outside, whether it is sunny or rainy it can tire you out. Anyway that is my story and I am sticking to it.
Bodega Cove 49.44.091N 126.382.78W 11 NM
7/26/09: It is a warm sunny morning (gosh, it's a tough life!) and I am enjoying my coffee and reading Elise's chapters about Friendly Cove and Nootka Sound. Boy do I have the guilties about not stopping there yesterday. I feel like I failed "Exploring 101" so I talked Bob into backtracking. Off we went to walk the shores of history, check out the lighthouse and church and this time to visit the shop of the master carver.
And true to form, looking out at the Pacific waters it would have been a perfect day to sail. But we enjoyed walk and views so it was a good day anyway. Our plan was to anchor in Jewitt Cove however there wasn't enough room due the two cabin floats occupying good space (grrrr...) so we went back to Bodega Cove and had the place to ourselves once again.
Bodega Cove 19 NM round trip - Friendly Cove
7/27/09: We traveled north thru Tahsis Inlet, then hung a left into Hecate Channel and then another left into Esperanza Inlet with the plan to anchor at Rosa Harbour and then dinghy into Nachatlitz Inlet to explore the intricate area of rocks and coves. Well the anchor wouldn't set at Rosa Harbour so we bite the bullet and worked our way thru the narrow passage into Nachatlitz - WOW! What an incredible place to stay!!!
This is by far the most beautiful place we have stayed at - front row seat to watch the ocean with the protection from swells, waves and wind by the small inlands and islets surrounding the area. The Nachatlitz tribe lived in this area until the mid 70's. Elsie has 3 great chapters in her book devoted to this area. But unlike Steve who sailed into the harbor twice ... we motored in this the benefit of electronic charts. Yup we are weanies - no bottom paint left on any rocks here! Then I really felt bad after arriving into the cove to find a 60ft power boat snug as a bug at anchor. So much for great feats of navigation.
We had another sunny warm day ... enjoyed a dinghy ride around the small inhabited island all while watching the multitude of sea otters chowing down on sea urchins and clams. The sunset was incredible along with the gentle roar of the splashing waves.
Nachatlitz 49.48.722N 126.57.831W 25 NM
7/28/09: This place warranted another night's stay so we could explore the islands and islets. It seems to be a very popular area for kayakers since there were two groups camped out on the island. We wandered around the area by dinghy and snooped at various islands. We watched two sailboats come thru a very narrow passage and shook our heads in dismay at their guts passing thru a kelp filled and swallow area. Turns out one of the boats "Winterhawk" owned by Rick & Patty belong to the Puget Sound Cruising Club and we knew them! We had a great time chatting and catching up on each other's news. They filled us in on lots of activities happening on the east side of Vancouver Island and we did our best giving them a list of great anchorages on the west coast.
We were plagued with another beautiful sunset and warm evening. All thoughts of last year's cold and rain in Alaska have been forgotten thanks to this beautiful summer we have been experiencing.
7/29/09: Time to move on to Kyuquot (Ky-oo-kit) Sound which means going back out to the high seas. Sounds awesome eh? Well it was another motoring day with 6-9 seas - yuck! I am learning though - this morning I only had ½ cup of coffee and that sure seemed to help the stomach stay reasonably settled. We had no wind but at least it was clear and sunny.
Our destination was Petroglyph Cove on Amai Inlet (some locals know it as Blue Lips Cove) but we stopped for about an hour to enjoy the Rugged Point Marine Park (est 1989). This place has numerous campsites, beach trails and good landing spots for kayakers. We anchored off and rowed the dinghy to shore to hike the short trail over to the west side. This was another "Hot" day ... how often can you wear t-shirts, shorts and sandals travelling up the west coast of VI with NO coats.
After snooping about Rugged Point Park we motored the final hour up to our anchorage. Once again we navigated thru a narrow passage into a small well protected cove. We had been advised to avoid Dixie Cove (another marine park on Hohoae Island) because the horse flies would eat you alive and carry away small children. This place had its share but not unmanageable with a good swatting towel.
It was damn hot here ... no wind and the temperate was 87 degrees ... and the water temperature was 72 degrees! So who needs to think twice about jumping in for a swim. I couldn't stand the heat and flies anymore - I couldn't even get a good nap in I was so hot. After checking for sea monsters once I got in ... it was heavenly!
Bob had gone off in the dinghy for any easy row and when coming back couldn't figure out all the splashing around the boat. Little did he know it was his "mermaid" swimming about. Didn't take long and he as in the water too - buck naked! At least I had my swimsuit on - didn't want to scare the fish! It has been a mighty fine day on the water. Even used our side curtains on the bimini to help shade us from the sun.
Petroglyph Cove 50.01.446N 127.10.773W 25 NM
7/30/09: It is amazing the difference in temperature today, cool, overcast and misty. We are off to a bay quite close to Walter's Cove. Never sure you can get space at the dock so we will anchor and then dinghy into the small community. I can't believe we are leaving sunshine and heading into fog - something wrong about that mentality.
I am excited to see all the sea otters who call this area home. They were once hunted to almost extinction back in the 18th century due to the valuable trading commodity of their furs. Between 1969 and 1972 otters from Alaska were re-introduced into this area specifically in the Bunsby Islands. There seems to be a healthy population lurking about entertaining all the cruisers.
Sure enough we had several otters supervising our anchoring technique in Clanninick Cove. Obviously they were not impressed since they didn't take time out from their eating to offer us any advice. They are the cutest little buggers - always primping themselves.
We went into Walter's Cove to pick up a few groceries and check out the area once again. Two years ago we were here waiting out gale force winds and constant downpour of rain. The main road thru the community is a walking path so we stretched our legs a bit. Not much seems to be happening for commercial activity - even the sports fishermen seemed smaller in number. The Uchuck III, the west coast supply and passenger ship, was expected today and that seemed to be the only potential excitement.
Clanninick Cove 50.02.148N 127.24.818W 12 NM
07/31/09: It was foggy all last night and again this morning but had lifted a bit to give some visibility as we took off for Columbia Cove located on the south side of the Brooks Peninsula. Sure glad Bob had plotted a course as we wove our way thru rock piles, reefs, and the narrow Gay Passage thru the Bunsby Islands. I am really bummed out today - I had to wear long pants, shoes & socks and a fleece jacket.
Columbia Cove is named for the "Columbia Rediviva", a fur trading vessel captained by Robert Gray. Gray had played an important role in the early European exploration of west coast. The cove is well protected from winds - a good play to hide out from gales. It also has a very primitive trail that takes you over to a beach called Shed 4. This beach is a long, sandy and accumulates a lot of sea junk - you never know what treasure you will find like styrofoam balls 5 ft in diameter. (I really think they are dinosaur eggs.)
This so called trail has had a lot of downfalls from trees and I swear I tripped over every tree root. There was a lot of cursing going on in the woods. I lose my fun factor when trails inflict pain on my knees. We ran into a group of kayakers from Seattle settling in for the night on the beach. They were travelling in style with several wine bottles lined up on the logs.
Gale force winds building late in the afternoon are expected over the next couple of days. We have to decide in the morning how much fortitude we have to endure lumpy seas and fog. We know we can beat the winds by getting going early enough in the morning.
Columbia Cove 50.08.373N 127.41.481W 17 NM
8/1/09: Nothing like worrying half the night about leaving this morning - so now I am short on sleep and short on patience. Sunday's winds were expected to peak at 40 kts and that determined our decision to leave and get around Brooks Peninsula. The seas were benign until we rounded the southwest corner of the peninsula heading north to Solander Island. Gads - lumpy and confused seas! Before rounding the corner we darn near ran into a sleeping humpback. At first I thought it was a large bull kelp bed or a raft of floating logs but as I was turning to avoid the flotsam the whale woke up, rolled and kicked his tail up and dove. My stomach landed in my throat ... it was so foggy I felt lucky to see him.
We arrived without any further incident at Klaskish Basin by noon. Shortly thereafter the winds picked up and even blew quite strongly in the anchorage. We had lunch and then took a nap!
Klaskish Basin 50.15.344N 127.43.974W 28 NM
8/2/09: We are spending the day waiting out late afternoon gale force winds so we set out on a dinghy cruise. Didn't take long and we were back to the boat after encountering huge waves, swells and wind in the outer bay of Klaskish Basin. We stopped by our only neighbor in the anchorage and it turns out they are fellow Shilshole mates moored on N dock. However, they spent some time on D & E docks during the shuffle. Ken & Kay of "Seeker" invited us for cocktail hour later in the afternoon and we swapped stories about Swiftsure and cruising.
I managed to get some much need cleaning done down below so the boat looks and smells better. The sun was shining but the temperate was much cooler. Hopefully that means no fog tomorrow.
8/3/09: We must have the weather gods with us - no fog, but sunshine and wind galore. We sailed to weather and the boat performed great - beats the hell out of motoring. The winds were up to 25 kt apparent with 4-6 ft swells. As soon as we got close to Quatsino the wind died so we threw out the fishing line. Darn, 15 minutes later we had dinner for another 6 nights or so! It's a tough life living off the sea.
As we were cruising to Julian cove, we passed a flotilla of about 50 sea otters. At first I thought it was a flock of birds but it didn't look quite right. They were just hanging out grooming and eating.
The logging industry has been extremely busy in this sound. The mountains here are much smaller in size and easier to log. It was really sad to see the clear cuts scattered along every hill and mountain. Tonight in a cove next to us, is a big operation loading up logs. We can hear the whine of the machinery working - so much for this quiet little cove.
Julian Cove, Quatsino Sound 50.29.119N 127.36.539W 39 NM
10/14/2009, Barkley Sound
07/08/09: We woke to the lovely sound of raindrops; I must admit I have almost forgotten that sound with all the nice weather we have had these last couple of months. It's going to be a long day no matter the creative accounting I can come up with - Bamfield is a long way from Sooke Harbor. So we mustered out of bed and I popped a quiche in the oven to cook while working our way out of Sooke and into the straits.
Our colors of the day were gray and grayer ... pick your shade! And the fog settled in quite nicely just to make sure we were paying attention. "LeRoy" our autohelm was in for a workout today while Bob and I nestled under the bimini all snug in our rain gear drinking coffee. The GPS, AIS, radar and the watermaker were all humming along making our little home on the water safe and functional. We honestly are spoiled ... hands down we were pretty comfortable.
The next test of the day was whether or not seasickness was in my future. I went to sea hungry as advised by one of our PSCC speakers and ate small amounts all day long. The quiche and a fine peanut butter sandwich were 5 star qualities in my book; didn't get sick nor did I have problems going below to use the head. A very successful voyage I might say! Those who have read previous stories know this portion of travelling has been quite challenging to me.
We caught the ebb tide perfectly and averaged 7.4 kts per hour from anchor up to anchor down. The seas were unsettled but manageable, 2-3 ft waves and 5 ft swells. The wind was behind us so we put up the main and got extra ½ kt of speed. It rained the entire day and the only sea creature we saw was my favorite - a sea otter.
Bamfield 48.49.565N 125.08.339W 74 nm
07/09/09: We were quite pooped after yesterday's long slog ... no scenery to view, not enough wind to sail and sloppy seas; but got in our isometric exercises. It's a shame to fall asleep at 8 pm to peaceful music then have to get up to go to bed. Damn I hate that ... the settee was comfortable, I was warm and cozy.
The day was spent walking around Bamfield, getting a fishing license and most importantly finding an ice cream cone. The west of Bamfield has a walking path and boardwalk, the eastside has the roads. It is a charming fishing village, both sport and commercial, but a tough place to make a decent living. Many of the homes on the boardwalk are in tough shape and literally a junk pile but not without some charm. Not sure I could spend a winter here ...
They do have a nice community park and campground. I thought I saw an outdoor swimming pool but when in Canada think like a Canadian ... it was a hockey rink in the winter and basket ball court in the summer. Silly me!
07/10/09: We fished our way to the next anchorage. Caught a nice sized clump of seaweed but that was it. Sure didn't stop the fish from jumping all around us making us feel bad. Our first choice to set anchor was marginal, after two tries we gave up. Our second choice gave us an opportunity to share the cove with 12 floating homes plus a fishing lodge; can't say as I find the floating cabins appealing with their bare amenities. Since the sewage gets discharged directly into the water we decided the crabbing would wait another day.
Rainy Day Cove 48.58.916N 125.02.066W 17 NM
07/11/09: Sun, sun, sun ... gosh I luv it! But as always there are trades offs - fog, fog, fog. So if the month of August is called Fogust because of the never ending fog, I wonder what July should be really called?
We set off and fished our way to Nettle Island, our next anchor area. Guess we were in the right spot since we shared the waterway with at least 30 small fishing boats weaving around each other in the fog. We caught 3 salmon but they were just little guys so back in the water they went to grow up a bit.
Once settled we threw out the crab pot and headed out for a dinghy ride adventure. The "Broken Group" of islands is a mecca for kayaks and canoeists. We found a couple nice coves that would be fun to swim in so we may try that tomorrow.
Nettle Island 48.55.730N 125.15.066W 11 NM
07/12/09: Thoughts of swimming sure went out the door while peering at gray skies, drizzle and cooler temperatures. Bob decided to fish and took off in the dinghy and I settled into needlework while listening to tunes.
Humming birds kept flying by checking out the bright reds in the flags - Canadian & US. I was amazed that we would see these small beautiful birds so far out from the mainland. I have yet to figure out what they were feeding on. What a contrast in size and tenacity compared to the bald eagles flying around the anchorage. Except for a few seals, there hasn't been much for sealife unless you count the fishermen and kayakers.
Later in the afternoon we took the dinghy over to Jaques/Jarvis lagoon and wandered in and out of the waterways. Rocks littered the entire shoreline of these islands and it was fun to poke around the coves viewing plant and sea life. I started rereading Elsie Hulsizer's book "Voyages to Windward" not only to brush up on the history of VI once again but get other ideas for anchor spots.
We got internet and phone access which blew me away so I checked in family, friends and took care of a few chores online. No TV so we spoiled ourselves with a movie. All the other nights were warm and sunny so they are spent reading and watching the world go by sitting in the cockpit.
07/13/09: It's onward to Lucky Creek near Pipestem Inlet. The weather is supposed to warm up and dip in Lucky Creeks pools may be in order. We fished our way towards Bazett Island, our anchor area, and managed to catch a nice 15 # Coho salmon. This will feed us 6 meals ... plus hopefully lure a few crabs into the trap with the yummy fish head.
As we passed by the Pinkerton Islands, I couldn't help but remember the F Dock trip in 2005 with fond memories. Especially the part when we wanted to get the boys (our grandson & his friend) off to shore to burn off some kid energy. The plan would have worked well except for the black bear scrounging for lunch along the same beach. It was funny how quickly they changed their minds and staying on the boat was now ok. Besides the kids were scrawny back then and lousy bear bait.
We are now in full cruising mode ... the preventers are hooked on the boom, the washdown hose and anchor snubber are attached on the bow, binoculars are out in the cockpit, downrigger attached to rail w/fishing pole, fish net on deck, guide books on the nav station and oil lamps tied down. I am now in a full fledged battle with mosquitoes and no see um's so screens are installed in the port lights and the companionway is covered with netting. I hate the little b_____ds.
In order to get to Lucky Creek you must enter the inlet about an hour before high tide and then leave about an hour afterwards or you will be stuck. The waterfalls are about 12 feet tall with one big rock separating the two of them. Bob found the trail to get to the swimming pools at the top of the falls. However he wasn't sure if I could manage the climb with my knees but I will have you know I earned my "billy goat mountaineering badge" and made it to the swimming hole. Wow the creek and the upper falls were even more beautiful then I could imagine. The day wasn't exactly very warm (not when you wear pants, sweatshirts and coats) but we decided to brave the water anyway.
Damn it was cold! Took me forever to work my way deep enough to cover my shoulders and swim around a bit. Bob was beginning to doubt his manhood and sanity, especially after reading several books on incredible survival stories, on why anyone would want to endure the cold water. But we did it and found it refreshing ... may be a little too refreshing; took forever to get my legs warm again.
Bazett Island 49.01.106N 125.17.790W 9 nm
07/14/09: It was cool & dreary as we headed to Effingham Island. The wind piped up later on and cleared out the clouds so we had sunshine but still cool temperatures. The bay had choppy waters which didn't lend it to dinghy exploring and I felt slightly under the weather so we hunkered in for the afternoon.
The hummingbirds made an appearance here too. I am quite fascinated with these little ones. Wish I had a feeder on board. We are off to Ucluelet tomorrow to fuel, do laundry, grocery shop, find a bank and may be take in a movie. Our next jump will be to the outside on the island and head to Clayoquot Sound while intentionally missing Tofino and all its tourist activity. Since we have no agenda, I am not sure how much time will spend there but we definitely want to try out new spots to explore.
Effingham Island 48.52.574N 125.18.476W 13 nm
10/14/2009, San Juan Islands WA to Sooke Harbor
07/01/09: We had cast off the lines around 10:00 am the morning of July 1st. The previous 2 ½ weeks were spent visiting family and friends and attending our granddaughter's wedding in Montana. It was to believe this beautiful woman standing at the altar was just 4 months old when Bob & I got married. She was a little maid of honor in my eyes back then ...
The winds, of course, were right on our nose and by the time we rounded Partridge Point which offered us a good sailing angle the winds died. But all was not lost as we had sun the entire trip. Our mission was to hook up with Larry & Karen on Panta Rhei with their guests (Karen's cousin) Kirk & Debbie Shoup. We planned to spend a couple of days together enjoying the San Juans and celebrating the 4th of July at Roche Harbor.
We anchored at Aleck Bay at the south end of Lopez Island and spent a quiet, warm & sunny evening with just one other boat; both enjoying the scenery and solitude.
Aleck Bay 48.25.592N 122.51.482W 49.9 nm
07/02/09: Our timing was perfect in the morning finding ourselves just slightly ahead of Panta Rhei whose crew burned the midnight oil working their way towards Sucia Island. We rafted up in Echo Bay and sent the Panta Rhei crew below to take a nap. Getting up at 3 am can take the starch out of a person.
The rested crew then enjoyed happy hour, lots of sun and evening stroll on the beach.
Echo Bay, Sucia Island 48.45.658N 122.54.333W 25.8 nm
07/03/09: The intrepid adventurers managed to hike to Fossil Bay from Echo Bay without getting lost (although Larry tried). I am proud to report that I kept up with everyone and managed not to whine even if I was hot. If I did I would have to take back all my complaining about the cold and rain of last year's trip to Alaska.
After our leg stretching walk, we pulled anchor and set out for Reid Harbor at Stuart Island. The boys couldn't resist the warm water of 63 degrees so the wet suits were donned and they went swimming. Bob & Kirk tried out Larry's hooka (sp) hose for scuba diving and the spare air canister. Karen, Debbie & I were tolerating the overgrown wet boys that were interfering with our cocktail hour.
Reid Harbor, Stuart Island 48.40.264N 123.11.451W 16.4 nm
07/04/09: A hike to the school house was on the agenda today. I passed on the adventure and chose to clean my salty windows instead. Once the gang was back, it was the women's turn to enjoy the water. We climbed into our northwest bikinis (wet suits) and jumped in. Needless to say it took awhile to recover our breath before swimming around the boats.
We practiced climbing into Larry & Karen's new dinghy by using a two step webbed ladder. The ladies determined there needed to be a rope with knots or loops tied into it for hand grips to help pull ourselves out of the water. By the time we were done, I had had enough exercise for the day.
After cleaning up our salty but refreshed bodies, we motored to Roche Harbor to take in the 4th of July festivities. The bay was bursting at the seams with boats of every size and egos to match. We managed to find a spot to anchor and spent a few hours watching the madness. Since we had dinner reservations at the McMillan restaurant at 7:30 pm we went to shore around 4 to indulge in ice cream, a walk to the mausoleum and stroll thru the sculpture garden. The mosquitoes had a fine meal feasting on the Panta Rhei crew. Bob & I had already fed them several weeks ago so we didn't want to share anymore blood.
The meal and atmosphere was wonderful - all parties were enjoying activities around the marina. We finished in time to watch the sunset flag ceremony. After the colors were lowered the crowd witnessed kids of all ages jumping into the water. Good thing it was high tide. The fireworks and peppermint schnapps topped off the evening.
Roche Harbor 48.36.647N 123.10.220W 6.1nm
07/06/09: We said our farewells to Panta Rhei early in the morning and then promptly went back to bed! We were feeling the effects of several active and busy days. Sure is nice to be retired and not feeling guilty about sleeping in. The boats vacated the bay with a flurry of activity. We stayed on board and away from the lingering crowds. By the morning of the 6th, we finally worked up enough courage and went to shore. By then Roche Harbor was back to its normal buzz.
We decided to reverse our plans and go around Vancouver Island first even though this meant going windward on the west side. I have begun to believe no matter what direction I go the winds will always be on our nose ... so be damned the weather and full steam ahead.
Checking into Canadian customs was a breeze with Nexus. Since we were only 2 hours away from Sidney we called while at Roche Harbor and received out clearance number after answering their standard questions. At least Nexus works!
We went to Sidney Spit and managed to spend the worst night at anchor we ever had including all the times sitting out gales in Alaska. The winds kicked up to 25kts with 2-3 ft choppy waters. The boat bucked like an old bronco in some of the gusts. Luckily we had a good set on the anchor and stayed firmly in place but the winds lasted all night.
Sidney Spit 48.38.510N 123.20.626W 7.7 nm
07/07/09: It was up at 6 am to catch the ebb tide - besides I couldn't stay another hour at Sidney Spit. We had a pleasant motor to Sooke Harbor. Passing thru Race Rocks, we both had visions of Swiftsure dancing in our heads. Especially the race of 2006, it was extremely vivid as the race crew of Panta Rhei endured 4 circles thru the washing machine trying not to hit or be hit. Ah such fond memories!
The entrance thru Sooke Harbor is enough to give you the willies - sure glad it was day light and very little wind ... the current was enough let alone all the crazy speed driven fishermen.
Sooke Harbor 48.21.214N 123.43.178W 37 nm
North to Alaska - Final Chapter
It goes without saying; this has been truly an adventure and journey. Both Bob and I came away with new found knowledge, tested our characters, became somewhat salty dogs and grown a few fish gills here and there. Would we do it again? Hell yes ... but preferably under better weather conditions. The rains and cold weather really really dampened our spirits and we feel we missed so much.
So what would we do differently? So far not much ... but here are a few thoughts:
Timing of the trip - now knowing that April, May and June are considered the "summer months", I would propose leaving Seattle around April 1st and then leave Alaska in early July.
Skagway - I would highly recommend visiting this historic town by using the Fairweather express ferry and leave the boat in Juneau. The Lynn Canal lives up to its reputation for steep seas and high winds.
Glacier Bay National Park - don't miss it but use the park's water transportation to visit all the glaciers ... the anchor sites are few and distances to travel by sail boat are far. Your time is better spent enlisting the parks resources and ranger guide services.
Sitka - we missed seeing this community and everyone we spoke with had nothing but good things to say. It will be on the "must do" list the next time.
There were only a couple of anchorages I didn't feel well protected and secure in ... I would choose differently next time.
A back-up computer ... although ours didn't miss a beat, one should have a secondary computer with charts, etal.
We still had lots of storage capacity unused ... I will fill it up next time with more paper goods, laundry soap, wine, etc.
We missed keeping up with the news and especially the Olympics; maybe ... a real maybe having satellite and flat screen HD TV would be nice to watch on the weathered-in nights.
We need to replace our dinghy motor ... our little put-put needs retiring.
Shorten the travel days and lengthen the stays at the nice anchorages.
Try and sail more ... too much motoring (most of the time not by our choice)
Get off the boat more ... and it's hard to do unless you are at a town.
Personal time ... as much you love your spouse, time-out is a really good thing.
So what worked really well? I could not live without the following amenities (well I could, but prefer not too):
Watermaker ... we never worried about our water quantity or quality. I love it!
Bimini ... kept us reasonably dry and safe from the worst weather conditions.
Cabin Heater ... gosh we used it more this summer than we do in the winter - a must have for traveling to Alaska.
Daylight viewable screen w/navigation program in the cockpit ... considering the weather conditions we encountered, this was so valuable towards our safety.
Heavy duty foul weather gear
My dock cart ... it and I lugged more laundry and groceries around than you can imagine!
Generator ... invaluable secondary source of power
Good cruising guides ... the Douglass books were incredible source of info, "Ports and Passages", Coast Pilot, etc.
So what was the most important to us? Where do I begin ...
Your emails ... at each port of call with internet access, we eagerly logged on hoping to hear news from our family and friends ... you never disappointed us!
Your phone calls ... it was so much fun to hear familiar voices and words of encouragement ... it lifted our spirits!
Your visits ... we so much enjoyed sharing our adventure with Phil, Cathy, Tyler, Mona and Dick. You all were hardy souls and intrepid adventurers!
And to all ... thank you for your words of encouragement and praise of these missives. I have a new found respect for authors/writers and the amount of effort it takes to compose a book; a simple journal like mine was enough of a challenge and really a lot of work! But on the other hand, it was a way to share our adventure with you all.
Until another time ... fair winds and calm seas to one and all!