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Travels on the Inside Passage
A log of cruising adventures in coastal areas of British Columbia, Canada and in Southeast Alaska.
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Fall Weather is upon us
19 September 2013,Thursday, Bellingham WA USA

We left Ganges, B.C., in dense fog, on Sunday, September 15. We crossed the international boundary in Haro Strait and headed for Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. We spent two nights there with friends from Squalicum Yacht Club who were there on their boat. Tom and Pat were at the dock when we arrived and helped us get in. We went over to their boat and had some wine and talked about our cruise for a while. A rain storm set in and ,when we got back to our boat, we found that our back deck area was all wet. We had neglected to close up the canvas before we left for happy hour!

Next morning we let things dry out and walked up into town for some shopping. We had lunch at our favorite clam chowder spot, Haley's Bar and Grill. Afternoon was spent doing some boat chores and locating some geocaches. We had dinner aboard and planned to move on to Anacortes, WA the next day. We will re-fuel the boat and spend a day or two at the reciprocal moorage that our club has with the Fidalgo Island Yacht Club in Anacortes.

On Wednesday, the long range forecast has included some stormy weather over the weekend so we are going to travel to Bellingham on Thursday and check the forecast again.

Thursday's forcast is no better, gale force winds on Sunday. An early morning email from the SYC cruise host, Paul, confirms what we were expecting: the work party at Sucia Island has been canceled. We arrive at our slip in Squalicum Harbor at 1330 and get settled in.

It has been a great summer and a great cruise.

Coastal BC
Just Cruisin'
Summer continuing
14 September 2013,Saturday, Ganges, B.C.

We are winding up our summer cruise with some stops in the Gulf Islands of British Columbia. We spent some time in Nanaimo, Montague Marine Park and in the town of Ganges on Saltspring Island. There is an eclectic Saturday market in the town square of Ganges and the Fall Fair is up Rainbow Road this weekend. We enjoyed going to the different venues and sampling some great food from local farms, bakeries and fisherman's smokers.

Tomorrow we will cross over the border and spend some time in the San Juan Islands before heading home. We will be at Sucia Island for Squalicum Yacht Club's annual work party at the state marine park there. We will be back in Bellingham by September 23. We will post one more blog entry after we get back. Stay tuned!

Coastal BC
The Highway Home
Summer continues!
04 September 2013,Wednesday, Pender Harbour, B.C.

We are taking the "inside" route through Dent Rapids, Gillard Pass, and the Yuculta Rapids. Our depature from Blind Channel was timed so that the current there would be favorable for our trip down Cordero Channel. That meant that we had some time to kill before arriving at Dent Rapids at slack. We tied up at the dock in Shoal Bay and had lunch aboard. Some folks on a small sport fisher tied up to do the same and we chatted with them for a while. They are fishing for ling cod and were headed back out so they shared a filet with us!

We went through Dent Rapids and Gillard Pass a little early but the current was with us so we gained some speed. We found plenty of space at the community docks in Big Bay on Stuart Island. We had our fresh ling cod filet, breaded and fried, for dinner. It was delicious!

On Thursday we timed our departure from Big Bay so that the Yuculta Rapids, which are right in front of the Stuart Island Community Docks, would be going slack. We had no problem going through to Calm Channel (appropriately named!) and on to one of our favorite stops in Desolation Sound: Squirrel Cove. There was plenty of space to anchor and we found our spot right in front of the reversing rapids that lead into the hidden lagoon. This is the big attraction here. Cruisers who visit here like to run through the little inlet at high slack tide and explore the lagoon in their dinghies or kayaks. They can spend about an hour inside the lagoon and then run the rapids out when the tide reverses the stream. We have done this several times, with some rather hilarious outcomes. Tonight high tide is close to sunset so anyone entering the lagoon runs the risk of having to wait until after dark to find their way out. No one takes the challenge.

As we wound our way into the anchorage, we were passed by an inflatable tender with two people and two boxer dogs that we recognized: Bob and Jeanne on M/V Presido. They are members Squalicum Yacht Club and are out for a cruise. We take the Bullfrog down to where they are anchored and have a chat about where we have all been. It was nice running into someone that we know.

The next morning we head south down Thulin Passage and take moorage in Westview. The harbor authority has made big improvements here in recent years. They have doubled the size of the south basin, installed more floats that increases the moorage, built a new harbor office with washrooms and showers and generally spruced up the place. This is now a regular stop for us as we head back to Bellingham. They even have a free shuttle to take us up to the shopping center where the grocery store is. Our needs today are small so we shop in the town center and find some fresh baked sourdough bread and "Nanaimo" bars at the Rocky Mountain Pizza Company. If you don't know what a Nanaimo bar is, you must come out here and try one. They are indescribably delicious! There is also a very well stocked marine supply store and several books stores to browse through.

On Saturday we leave early to take advantage of calm conditions and an ebbing tide to travel down Malaspina Strait. We arrive in Pender Harbour about noon and find moorage at the Fisherman's Marina in Hospital Bay. We find that some friends from the Bellingham Grand Banks crowd are there: Byron and Sue aboard Eagles's Gig. Again, it is nice to run into someone we know. Also, we have been keeping up with each other on the ham radio net that is run nightly in the summer months. We dinghy over to the Grasshopper Pub for dinner with Byron and Sue.

Sirena plans to spend two nights in Pender Harbour. We will cross over to Nanaimo on Monday morning.

Coastal BC
Port Harvey and Beyond
Foggy mornings, sunny afternoons
04 September 2013,Wednesday, Blind Channel Resort

We awoke on Monday to find no fog in Blackfish Sound, outside of Farewell Harbour, and pulled up the anchor at 0800. We followed the flood tide through Blackney Passage along with a pod of dolphins that were feeding at the mouth of Baronet Passage. We turned east down Johnstone Strait and were passed by four orcas (killer whales) that were headed west past Robson Bight. The rest of the trip to Port Harvey was uneventful and we were welcomed back by George and Gail, the owners of the marina there. We enjoyed a pleasant afternoon at the dock and had dinner at the Red Shoe Restaurant. Sharon enjoyed fish & chips and Rob had the rack of ribs. Both came with fries and coleslaw.

On Tuesday we gathered with the other boaters in the restaurant for coffee and freshly baked cinnamon buns. We got some news about the debris jams up in the Broughtons, where we had just come from. The debris is the result of at least three major landslides that occurred as a result of the recent heavy rainfall in the mountains. There are four slides near the head of Knight Inlet, in Glendale Cove, and one in Thompson Sound. These slides occur when rainfall saturates the thin soil mantle that is clinging precariously to the steep granite walls of these inlets. Any movement of the trees or water running down the hill can trigger the slide. As the slide progresses downhill, it tears more material off the bedrock and multiplies in size almost exponentially. They can be many acres in size by the time the debris hits the salt water. The tides and wind then move the material around, sometimes for months, until it becomes grounded on beaches by high tide levels and storm winds. The picture above is from Bond sound and shows an older slide scar.

We learn that the debris has found its way into Lagoon Cove, Chatham Channel and Echo Bay. It is making navigation through the islands up here very difficult. Pierre's has announced that they are closing their business until further notice. The post office in Chatham Channel is totally blocked by logs and debris. Lagoon Cove Marina is reporting that they can see "some patches of water out there".

We decide to head for Blind Channel today and find heavy fog in Johnstone Strait for three hours, as far as Kelsey Bay. As the fog lifts, we go through Current Passage. The flood tide gives us a 3 knot boost. There is some commercial traffic headed east so we stay on the north side of the channel, along the shoreline. We tie up at Blind Channel Resort by 1430. After a shower we relax on the boat and have dinner aboard. The restaurant here is closed for the season after Labor Day, but the store is still well stocked. We pick up a few essentials. Tomorrow we will cruise through Cordero Channel, stop in at Shoal Bay, and wind up at Big Bay for the night.

Coastal BC
The Chief's Bathtub
Fair and warm weather
01 September 2013,Sunday, Village Islands, B.C

This morning we take the Bullfrog back down Village Channel to a rock cliff on the north side of Berry Island. We find an indentation in the rock wall that is described in the Waggoner Guide. It is reputed to be the site of a native ordeal that would determine if an individual is fit to be Chief. The story is that the candidate would have to sit in the "Chief's Bathtub" through four changes of the tide (24 hours). If he could withstand the inundation of cold water, he would be considered able be Chief. We find the site as described and photograph the basin and the pictograph on the rock wall.

After lunch we consider the forecast and decide to head for Lagoon Cove Marina for the night. We would then move to Port Harvey on Tuesday and go down Johnstone Strait on Wednesday. The weather is quiet through Wednesday, with winds developing in the strait on Thursday and Friday. Our plan seems to fall into place naturally. We decide to go up Knight Inlet, turn down Clio Channel at Minstrel Island and into Lagoon Cove. A simple three hour cruise (remember Gilligan's Three-Hour-Cruise). After exiting Eliot Passage into Knight Inlet we were expecting the flood current to carry us up to Clio Channel with a 2 knot boost. But wait! We are only making 5 knots. We hear some radio chatter about woody debris blocking the entrance to some place. We try to confirm this with the vessel that is broadcasting, but are unable to make contact. We continue east and start seeing more and more debris in the water. Soon we can spot the entrance to Clio Channel and see that there is a solid wall of logs, trees and other flotsam across the channel. We hear more radio chatter about blockages in Chatham Channel. We would be transiting Chatham to get through to Port Harvey tomorrow.

Given the circumstances we make a strategic decision to turn around and head for Farewell Harbour for the night. The weather will allow a good run down Johnstone Strait in the morning and we will go into Port Harvey from the south. Farewell has lots of room now, the fishermen have left, and we find a good spot to anchor. Rob enjoys another "solar shower" and we toast our accomplishments with drinks on the fly-bridge. We have dodged another bullet and tomorrow is another day!

Coastal BC
Fog-us at the end of August
Back-to-summer weather, briefly
31 August 2013,Saturday, Berry Island, B.C.

We found a dense fog shrouding the harbor this morning and decided to wait for a while to see if it would lift. At 10:30 we could see out as far as Haddington Island, 2 miles distant. And we're off! But wait, by the time we got going the fog had become denser. We persevered, keeping both a visual and radar watch. We dodged the ferry, Quadra Queen as she made for the landing in Sointula. At Haddington Passage we found the bouy and light that mark the fairway between the island and the shoal ground. We are tracking some small boat traffic on the radar, but no commercial vessels in sight. We slow down to a crawl to dodge the traffic, a couple of sail boats creeping along the north shore of Cormorant Island. As we approach Donegal Head, on the east end of Malcom Island, we see two commercial targets on the AIS display and confirm their position with radar. Both are headed south in Blackfish Sound. Both are large vessels, one a tug with tow. The other is the Valkyrie, a 110 foot "pleasure vessel" moving at 10 knots. We are bound across the sound to Farewell Harbour, crossing the paths of these vessels. Legally, we would have the right-of-way. Basing our decision in the real world, we opt to parallel the courses of the commercial traffic, staying on the west side of the channel until they are well past. Sharon goes forward to listen for fog horns to confirm that the traffic is past. She hears the horn from Valkyrie, passing first. When the tug goes past she hears no sound signal, but can hear the engine, sounding like a locomotive. Finally the fog starts to lift and we see the top layer of shipping containers on the barge under tow. We dodged another bullet today! Sirena then heads east across Blackfish, astern of the tug and tow, to find the entrance to Farewell Harbour.

Farewell Harbour has a population of anchored boats so we pass on by and go down Village Channel to anchor in the nook behind Crease Island. We have anchored here in the past and feel secure from the westerly winds that are in the forecast. As we are setting the hook, a Nordic Tug 42, Salty Dawg, comes in and anchors behind us. We relax in the sun as the fog has now totally lifted. Our dinner tonight is grilled salmon steaks. Karen on M/V Snoop caught two coho salmon while in Echo Bay and graciously shared some with us. It is simply delicious! We have some leftover for lunch tomorrow.

Coastal BC

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M/Y SIRENA
Who: Rob and Sharon
Port: Bellingham WA
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