Starbright Northwest Passages

Voyages on the Salish Sea of the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia

16 July 2017 | Von Donop Inlet - Cortes Island, BC
09 July 2017 | Alert Bay - Port Harvey
05 July 2017 | Port McNeill
29 June 2017 | Port Mcneill
24 June 2017 | Pierre's at Echo Bay
23 June 2017 | Shoal Harbor / Proctor Bay
22 June 2017 | Simoom Sound
21 June 2017 | Kwatsi Bay
19 June 2017 | Mound Island, then Waddington Bay
14 June 2017 | Lagoon Cove Marina - E Cracoft Island
13 June 2017 | Forward Harbor
12 June 2017 | Shoal Bay
10 June 2017 | Shoal Bay - East Thurlow Island - BC, Canada
06 June 2017 | Rebecca Spit - Quadra Island - BC, Canada
04 June 2017 | Discovery Harbor Marina - Campbell RIver, BC
31 May 2017 | Rosco Bay, West Redondo Island, BC, Canada
26 May 2017 | Sarah Point - Desolation Sound
25 May 2017 | Garden Bay, Pender Harbor, BC, Canada
24 May 2017 | Nanimo Yacht Club - Nanaimo, BC
21 May 2017 | Nanaimo Port Marina

Warm and Peaceful

16 July 2017 | Von Donop Inlet - Cortes Island, BC
Steve / 80 degrees and sunny
A lot has transpired since we started our way Southward again. Our wish to get back into the Discovery Islands and Desolation Sound was based on the desire to have a little more reliability with cell service (to take care of some home responsibilities) and also to stop moving for awhile and enjoy the sun and warmth at anchor for some extended periods. Well, we’d have to wait just a little longer. Our stay in Port Harvey stretched out to 3 days in total while waiting for the Johnstone Strait gales to settle down. Finally, we were able to set out in pretty calm conditions on Tuesday the 11th. We had a nice run down Johnstone Strait, made good transits at Whirlpool and Green Point Rapids, and pulled into Shoal Bay for a night to wait for the Yacultas (a set of three rapids in all within 3-4 miles of each other - Dent, Gillard, and Yaculta). Biscuit had another great evening in Shoal Bay with his buddy, Tulip, and we set out Wednesday to tackle the Yacultas. These were the last of the sets of tidal rapids that we had no experience with yet so we carefully calculated the proper slack times, made the transits without incident, and made the run down Calm Channel into the Discovery Islands. As of this writing, we have been at anchor at the head of Von Donop Inlet on Cortes Island for 4 days and will probably remain for another few days as well.
We have had occasion to visit a few of our Great Northern Boater’s Net acquaintances here as this is a popular spot with that crowd as well as for others. The Discovery/Desolation Sound area in July is definitely more crowded than the areas further North but we have staked out a beautiful spot in 80 degree sunshine and are hiking and swimming with the Biscuit every day. Starbright is the boat on the far left in the picture and, as you can see, there is plenty of room for everyone to spread out (including Biscuit!) and relax. In a few days, we’ll make our way to our next provision spot and start down the Sunshine Coast. We’re trying to stay true to the Cruiser’s process and not plan too much, so, no ideas how that will go! Generally, though, we should be somewhere between the San Juan Islands and the Canadian Gulf Islands for the month of August – we’ll see how the winds drive us!

Alert Bay

09 July 2017 | Alert Bay - Port Harvey
Steve / Gales, some showers, but warm.
We spent 2 great days in Alert Bay. The community, occupying the whole of Cormorant Island, is comprised mainly of members of the 'Namgis tribe of Kwakwaka'wakw. On Thursday, we were able to witness a presentation of traditional potlatch and peace dances and songs in the tribal Big House - most impressive. We followed this Friday with an extended visit to U'mista - the sister museum that we saw some years ago on Quadra Island. The collections of repatriated masks, blankets, woven goods, and other paraphernalia seized during the potlatch bands early last century are well preserved and displayed and easily consume some hours to absorb.

We also found some respite from our recent careful practices around bear and cougar management by taking advantage of 20-ish miles of predator-free trails that are beautifully maintained across multiple environments on the island. As Barb said after these two days, our dogs are tired (including the Biscuit!).

Our visit to Alert Bay was all we had anticipated and is a must see in the North Island area. Our departure on Saturday morning was somewhat of a false start as we awoke to thick fog in the Queen Charlotte Strait and switched on the recently repaired radar to find it not working. Argggh. After a few minutes of circling, we located a bad connection, got it working, and set off to begin heading back Southward. As I write this, we had made our way up Knight Inlet, spotting dolphins and a massive lone Humpback whale, around the Southern Broughton Islands, and are in Port Harvey waiting for yet another gale to abate. We got up today at 5:00 AM to make the first rapid's slack, saw that the buoy report in the Johnstone Strait was building early, as predicted, and went back to bed. Later on, a 50 foot trawler docked in front of us, and reported they had passed the Grand Banks that left here at 5:00 and they were both getting beat up pretty bad with 25 knot winds blowing against the ebb current. Turns out we made a good judgement call to wait. We should be good to go tomorrow or Tuesday to make our way back through the tidal rapids.

Port McNeill - a Nice Place to do Business

05 July 2017 | Port McNeill
Steve / Sunny, Dry, and High 60's
We crossed the Queen Charlotte Strait at the end of 3 days of gale force fury and that crossing proved to be inauspicious - light fog, glassy seas, and no wind. Fine by us. Arrived Port McNeill on Thursday in time for some calls to take care of some home responsibilities and to order our engine part. This small town of 2,000 or so is the major re-supply point for the Northern Inland waters around the Broughton Islands. For a small town, they have helpful resources to get what one needs for provisions, repairs, services, etc. We made our order of a mixing elbow for the engine, as it has been still been running a little warm and stupid Steve should have changed this particular item a couple of years ago. Well, now we get to wait for shipping, because it is Canada Day! So - 6 days in town, but they were great days. A buddy boater joined us to wait for parts of their own, we joined in the the small but spirited celebration of Canada Day, and even took a day bus trip up to Port Hardy to see that famous jumping off port for Northbound and West Coast VanIsle sailors as well. Provisioning, showers, water, propane - all went well and we met a couple more of the Great Northern Boater's Net family in Port Hardy to boot.

The mixing elbow arrived and was installed without incident. The old one proved to be even more corroded than suspected, and, upon taking off again Wednesday, no steam, cooler temperature, more power, and we'll probably get better fuel mileage. Doh - Steve, don't wait so long next time to renew this wear item. So, running smoothly, we're off to one of the highlights of the trip - Alert Bay - one of the cultural centers of First Nations civilization on the North Pacific Coast. More on that in our next report.

Mamallilicula and Mound Island

29 June 2017 | Port Mcneill
Steve / Everything! - wind/calm/foggy/sunny
Between Echo Bay and now, we returned to the Southern Broughton Islands for some more relaxed exploring. First, a stop at Mamallilicula, the largest of the recently occupied native villages in the archipelago. All that remains are some of the Great House posts, some crumbling homes and community buildings from the mid-20th century, and some decaying totems. Fascinating sense of history, though, at this native metropolis built on a 12 foot high midden hill.... more on middens later.

We took up anchorage for the next three days back a Mound Island, where we knew Biscuit had a large, open, predator-free (relatively) forest to romp in and a white midden beach to swim from. We chose this anchorage to wait out a 30-40 knot gale in the Queen Charlotte Strait, which was only 1 mile and two small islands away. Our new ground tackle performed flawlessly as the winds gusted to 20 or so knots in the anchorage. Despite the blow, we had plenty of warm sunshine and some fun on the island.

Well, this catches us up. As of this morning, we have crossed over to Port Mcneill to take care of business items - doctor calls, laundry, shopping, etc. 12 hours after a 40 knot gale, the strait was glass smooth, windless, and somewhat foggy - go figure. We'll probably be here a few days as there are some boat parts we are awaiting to be shipped in to fix some minor issues. The good news is that we'll be "on the grid" for the weekend, so can catch up on correspondance.

Pierre and Tove

24 June 2017 | Pierre's at Echo Bay
Steve / Calm and Sunny
One of the institutions of the Broughton's, in the domain of destination marinas, is Pierre's at Echo Bay. Turns out our timing was perfect as today was season-opening weekend with the first of his famous pig roasts of the year. So, we tied Starbright to the dock, and tied bibs around our necks, and had a fabulous pork and potluck dinner with about 60 other early-bird mariners. Pierre and Tove have been eking out a living near Echo Bay for 40 years, right around the corner from Billy Proctor's place, and have built a truly great destination resort, yet preserved the rustic charm befitting the Broughton Islands.

Billy Proctor at Last

23 June 2017 | Shoal Harbor / Proctor Bay
Steve / Calm and sunny
One of our goals in getting up in this area was to meet a person we have only known through his books and writings. Billy Proctor is a bit of legend in this country as he has trapped, fished, logged, and run about all over these islands and inlets for 60 years. In that time, he has amassed a formidable collection of what he calls "junk" - beachcombing treasures from ancient first nations tools and artifacts to antiques from a later age left by loggers, trappers, and other hardy souls who forged hard fought lives in this wilderness.

And meet him we did. We took up anchorage in nearby Shoal Harbor, dinghied around to his place during a weekday when there was no one else about, and proceeded to enjoy stories of his "raincoast" for two hours. Well worth the trip. We'll look forward to many more visits in years to come.

Creatures of Discomfort in Beautiful Places

22 June 2017 | Simoom Sound
Steve / Calm - partly sunny
Catching up with the next few posts several days late as we have just popped back up on the grid. We made our way to Simoom Sound and found a few pretty little anchorages among soaring cliffs and mountains. Unfortunately, where we set anchor, we also found a sign on the beach left by a poor fellow who watched a cougar eat his dog a couple of years ago. We are now in country where bears and cougars are to be watched for. We have not seen any Grizzlies, but have seen black bears from tiny cubs to formidable mommies and daddies. As the picture above shows, their presence on the low tide beaches, digging up clams, etc. makes Biscuit trips to the beach a bit problematic. Also shown above is the solution. Most of these anchorages have little, treeless islands where we can let the Biscuit roam with less chance of a surprise and a wide open field of view. We would have liked to stay longer in Simoom Sound, Viner Sound, and a few other places, but..... on we went to more Biscuit-friendly environs.

Kwatsi Bay

21 June 2017 | Kwatsi Bay
Steve / Heavy rain gave way to sun/cloud mix
At the tail end of the latest storm, we ventured up Tribune Channel deeper into the mainland where the terrain became vertical, rocky, remote, and near-to-heaven. Kwatsi Bay put on quite a show, as a product of the recent rain, with scores of waterfalls pouring off the 2000 foot escarpments, and the one in the photo not 200 yards from the boat. It is a deep bay, remote and beautiful, and Max, the proprietor of the Kwatsi Bay Marina, captivated us for two days with tales of the history of this neck of the woods. One of the highlights of the trip, to be sure. We have a brief internet connection through Max's satellite hookup, so I'll keep this short.

Over the next couple of days, we'll be off the grid in some anchorages near Simoom Sound, then pop back up over the weekend at Echo Bay with their season-opening pig roast.

Happy Summer Solstice, everyone.
Vessel Name: Starbright
Vessel Make/Model: Hunter 340
Hailing Port: Portland, OR
Crew: Steve and Barb
About: Our home is our hailing port of Portland, OR and Starbright is slipped in Bremerton, WA. Roxy, the chocolate lab/boxer mix, has passed on so Biscuit, the big yellow guy, is rear admiral and has taken over duties searching off the fantail for dinghy destinations.
Extra: Amateur Radio Station W7XV is in operation on Starbright and checks into the Great Northern Boater's Net on 3.870MHz at 0800 Local and the West Coast Boater's Net on 3.860MHz at 1800 Local.
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Starbright's Photos -