06/21/2012, Bellingham, WA
We had a bit of rain over night and on the morning of our departure from Desolation Sound. We headed south to the tip of Cortes Island, went north of Hernando Island and Savary Island then on into Westview Harbour on the mainland side of the Georgia Straits. The seas were flat calm once we passed Lund, BC and the sun was out. Westview Harbour Marina has recently expanded with new docks and facilities ashore. We got showers at the harbor building and took a walk around this small town. We have visited here before and enjoyed seeing all the new developments.
Our next day's run was to be to Pender Harbour, about 30 miles down the mainland coast. We left at 0600 to take advantage of calm conditions in Malaspina Strait, which is the waterway between the mainland and Texada Island. When we got to the south end of Texada, the conditions appeared favorable for continuing on into Nanaimo, BC. We headed out into the Strait of Georgia and found a 10 - 15 knot wind blowing out of the south. There were 1 - 2 foot waves on the beam of the boat and conditions were not too bad. As we continued over, the wind and seas picked up and we had a steady 15- 20 knots and 2 - 3 seas. The seas were hitting us on the port bow and we felt every wave. The port side was very salty when we got into the harbour. We could have turned into Pender, but the forecasted conditions over the next few days would have kept us there for a while. We pressed on into Nanaimo and got in at 1500 hours. A nine hour day at sea!
Nanaimo is a great stop-over on Vancouver Island. We got a slip at the inner harbor and had a wonderful meal at Penny's Palapa Restaurant. Penny's is a floating restaurant and has the best Mexican Food that we have found in British Columbia. The weather forecast called for northwesterlies at 25 knots for the next day so we decided to delay our departure until Sunday. This also allowed for a later time of slack current to go through Dodd Narrows, our last tidal rapid on the trip home. We enjoyed walking around Nanaimo and having lunch at the other floating restaurant in the harbor, Troller's Fish & Chips.
In talking with the harbormaster, we learned that the Port of Nanaimo has entered into an agreement with a private concern to manage and expand the inner harbor. They will begin work this year and replace all the docks with concrete floats and add more moorage to the outer section of the harbor. The floating restaurants have been given ten year leases for their dock space and will be able to expand their facilities. This is good news for them and for boaters alike. We are looking forward to seeing the changes as they progress.
Our departure on Sunday was at 0737 and we passed through Dodd an hour later with no problems. We arrived at Montague Marine Park on Galiano Island in time for lunch. We took the dinghy over to the dock and went for a hike around the park. There are some nice trails here and some geocaches for Rob to find. The next day we went down Navy Channel, dodging BC Ferries and shrimp boats all the way to Port Browning. We took moorage at the marina there and walked in to the small community shopping center. Later we had a fantastic pizza at the pub that is part of the marina complex.
On Tuesday, June 18, we crossed the border into the U.S. and used our NEXUS passes to clear customs over the phone. We just stop the boat once we are in US waters and make a call. The officer takes our information, checks our status on the system and gives us a clearance number. Once the formalities were completed we went into the Washington State Marine Park on Sucia Island for the night. We were able to tie to the float in Fossil Bay and do some hiking around the island.
Our final leg into Bellingham was uneventful. The current was favorable and the winds light. We pulled into our slip at Squalicum Harbor at 1030 and spent the rest of the day getting the boat cleaned up. We spent the night aboard and Rob took the bus the next morning to retrieve our car from our garage. Now the work of unloading the boat and doing laundry begins.
06/16/2012, Nanaimo, B.C.
We had a good weather window for traveling in Johnstone Strait after leaving Port Harvey. We left at first light and did have some wind driven waves to plow through until the tide changed about 0800. We were able to use the flood current to transit Race Passage past Helmken Island and all the way down to Mayne Passage and our next stop, Blind Channel Resort. As we left Johnstone Strait, a humpback whale appeared off our port bow. It was surfacing for air and seemed to be heading up Mayne Passage. Sure enough, after we got tied up at Blind Channel the whale passed by the resort and spent some time in Charles Bay, across the channel. This is our second whale encounter of the trip.
Blind Channel, on West Thurlow Island, is a family-run marina that was developed in the early 70's by the Richter family. They are now on the third generation of family members running the place and the fourth generation is being raised at the resort. They have excellent docks, a store with fresh baked goods, and a wonderful restaurant which opened for the season on the day we arrived. We had a great meal (they feature German-style dishes) and a pleasant stay.
Our next day's run was down Cordero Channel to Dent Rapids. We left Blind Channel in dense fog at 0945, we needed to cover the 12 miles to Dent Rapids in time to go through at slack water. We traveled with our radar on and watching for traffic with all four of the eyes on board. As soon as we pulled away from the dock, we met a small tug coming the other way at full speed, trying to make way against the current. We hit his wake doing almost 10 knots, it was like hitting a brick wall. We did not have any adverse consequences from this encounter, but it was a bit unnerving. The next two hours were somewhat stressful due to the low visibility, however we arrived at the rapids at the appointed time for slack. These rapids have dangerous whirlpools and can run at up to 16 knots during spring tides(full or new moon phases), but we have chosen to travel during a neap tidal period(the moon is in a quarter phase). The window of slack water is wider during neap tides. The fog lifted just as we went through. We continued on, having lunch as we traveled, and arrived at our next anchorage without incident. The rain had begun as we arrived in Von Donop Inlet at about 1530.
Von Donop Inlet is a marine park and one of our favorite places to stay in Desolation Sound. We delayed our departure and did some exploring of the inlet in the dinghy the next day, as it was a sunny day. There are several side inlets off the main channel into the anchorage at the south end. One even has some cabins built along the waters edge. These cabins are only accessible by boat, and only at higher tide levels. No one appeared to be at home now, they are mostly summer homes.
06/10/2012, Desolation Sound
When we left Echo Bay on June 8, it was sunny and the northerly winds were building. We traveled through Retreat Passage, across Knight Inlet and into the Village Group of islands. We intended to anchor there but the north winds had built to a point where the anchorages would have been uncomfortable. We turned south, heading through Beware Passage and across Clio Channel to Pott's Lagoon.
We have anchored in Pott's before and it is very protected. There was only one other boat in the east cove. We anchored close in the lee of a small island and were totally out of the NW wind. The wind rose to gale force (35+ knots) over night, but we slept soundly. The next morning we discovered that the line from our crab snare had wound itself around the propeller! Rob had to make an early morning dive with mask and snorkel to clear the prop. The water temperature is in the 50's but the dive took less than a minute.
We got under way after breakfast and went up Clio Channel to moor at Lagoon Cove Marina. We spent one night and had another fine get together with other boaters over cocktails and shrimp.
The next morning, June 10, was overcast with rain as we left Lagoon Cove for the trip through Chatham Channel and Havannah Channel. There is a good current that runs through Chatham so we timed our passage for slack at about 10 a.m. We arrived at Port Harvey Marina about noon to find another Grand Banks 36 moored at the docks. We had met Gary and Judy at the Grand Banks Rendezvous and had fun catching up with them. They are headed into the Broughtons after spending time in Desolation Sound. We are heading to Desolation, so we swapped information on destinations.
We have lived on groceries brought from home or purchased 16 days ago in Port McNeill. Port Harvey Marina has a small cafe that serves wonderful pizza. We treated ourselves to one and a bottle of wine for our supper. We also bought some supplies at their store and some freshly baked cinnamon rolls for the next day's run down Johnstone Strait. This is the only place we have been to in the last two weeks that has fresh veggies, milk and eggs. George, the proprietor, bakes daily and the pizza was wonderful. We will leave early tomorrow, if the weather in the Strait is favorable.
06/07/2012, Echo Bay
We have been out of contact for awhile and are now spending a stormy day at the docks in Pierre's Echo Bay Marina.
We have been cruising in the northern portion of the Broughton Archipelago since we left Jennis Bay. As we were preparing for departure from there, Kim the manager, provided us with two large Dungeness crabs freshly caught in Drury Inlet. The crab boat came into the dock last night and left her with 20 crabs and she was glad to share some with us. We cooked them that evening and had enough meat for two meals.
From Jennis Bay we traveled to Sullivan Bay, they have hot showers there and a small store. The weather is staying overcast and settled since our first day over here in the islands. We moved on to Kwatsi Bay where we were met at the dock by Max, the owner of the small marina. Kwatsi is a beautiful place, well inland up Tribune Channel. The marina sits at the base of some very steep mountains with myriad waterfalls running with snow melt. We spent two nights and took a side trip in our dinghy to Watson Cove. There is a short hike up to a very large Western red cedar tree that is over 1000 years old. We made it up to the tree and marveled at its size and longevity.
After Kwatsi Bay, we traveled down channel to Viner Sound and Simoom Sound. Viner is a long sound with two small coves at the end. The BC Forest Service has installed mooring buoys and we tied to one for the night. That evening a black bear came out of the woods to forage on the beach. He returned early the next morning. This beach must be part of his routine. Simoom Sound is a six mile dog-legged inlet off Raleigh Passage. There are two anchorages and we chose O'Brien Bay. George Vancouver anchored his ships in Simoom Sound for the summer of 1792 during his "Voyage of Discovery".
We listen to the weather forecasts four times every day and learned that a storm was moving in for the day today. We headed to Echo Bay yesterday and got all tucked in and settled before the storm hit. We will spend today and tonight here.
We hiked over to the next bay on a primitive trail to visit Bill Proctor's museum. The hike itself is an adventure, you must use ropes to climb up and down the steeper sections.
Bill Proctor has lived in this area most of his life, working as a fisherman and logger. He has an amazing collection of artifacts that he has been saving since his childhood. There are many old bottles, logging tools, fishing equipment, scales, old tools, telephones, and on and on. Bill is in his eighties and has built every building on his property from lumber he milled himself. He collects drift logs in his boat the "Ocean Dawn" and sells them to gain a little income. He also has built a boat shed with marine ways to haul his boat out for repairs and maintenance. Part of the museum tour is to visit the replica of a loggers cabin that Bill constructed entirely from one cedar log that he found. The lumber is all hand-split, not sawed. He has furnished the cabin with a bunk and table, hand-built of cedar and artifacts that represent how a single logger would have lived in this area in the early days. Bill is somewhat of a legend in these parts and we enjoyed meeting him.
05/27/2012, Jennis Bay, Drury Inlet
We left Port McNeill early on Friday, May 25th. The seas and winds were calm on Queen Charlotte Strait for the 16 mile crossing. When we got to the entrance of Wells Passage, there was a bit of fog to contend with as we made our way. We decided to make Claydon Bay our first anchorage and were glad to see "Geordie Macrae" anchored there when we came in. The afternoon turned warm and sunny and we joined Doug and Pat for appetizers aboard their boat. The temperature reached a balmy 78 degrees and Sharon was without fleece for the first time on this trip.
We left Claydon on Saturday morning to go through Stuart Narrows and into Drury Inlet. This is a remote area of the Broughtons and does not see as many visitors. There is logging activity and fishermen. There are a few anchorages and one small marina. We tried several of the anchorages, but the west winds were building and rain was in the forecast, so we opted to visit the marina at Jennis Bay.
Jennis Bay is mid-way up the inlet and has been a center of logging activity for many years. There is one active logging camp here, next to the marina. The marina is small and primitive, but a fun place to spend some time. Rob did some hiking on the logging roads and we enjoyed visiting with Kim and Kent, the current managers. They have internet here so it is a good place to get up-to-date on the blog.
05/24/2012, Port McNeill, B.C.
We made it into the Port McNeill Harbour on Wednesday at noon. This is our last provisioning stop before crossing Queen Charlotte Strait into the Broughton Archipelago.
We spent a second day at Lagoon Cove, it rained most of the day and the wind was up out in the strait. When the rain let up we went for a stroll around the grounds of this small resort. Bill has a nice house on the rise above the marina. It sits on a shell midden, a place where native people camped and tossed their leftover clam and oyster shells out in the front yard. Behind the house is a small pasture with several out buildings. As we were admiring the flowers that Jean has planted we noticed some fresh bear droppings (scat) in the grass. As we started down the slope to the outbuildings, we saw our first bear! The animal was head into one of the sheds and was digging at something. All we saw was the back half, a big brown haired rump out the doorway. We turned tail immediately and quietly beat a retreat back towards the dock. We warned some of the other boaters who had their dogs out in the front yard and they retreated as well. Judging from the color of the fur and the size of the scat, this was probably a grizzly bear. There are both black bears and grizzly in this area.
We left Lagoon Cove on Tuesday and went over to Farewell Harbour in the Village Group of islands. There are the remains of several traditional native village sites in these islands. We may get back here next month, but for now we will move on to take advantage of the weather changes over the next few days.
Click on the link to the right that says "Current Location" to see a map of where we are. I will update our position with every blog post.