14 August 2013 | Bamfield to Sooke
Laurie / Foggy
Day 35 – August 8, 2013 Thursday
Knowing we were having an early start, Moe had set his alarm for 4:30 a.m. At minutes before 5:00, his usual waking hour, he got up on his own. Bolting out of bed, his first task was to get the engine going. There was everyone else’s alarm! We were leaving with Frances and Michel and they, clearly, were ready to go. All hands were immediately on deck and by 5:15 the anchor was on the deck, too and we were on our way! Sometimes a person just doesn’t need that leisurely morning cup of coffee.
It was still dark when we left, but at least it wasn’t foggy. Small blessings. As we turned out of Bamfield Inlet into Trevor Channel we quickly realized that was not to last. There was the fog. At least it wasn’t too thick. Yet.
As was my task, I had set our track for the day on our Navigatrix, which runs on my small computer. Navigatrix gets our position from our small GPS. Just as we came out of the inlet and into the channel the GPS lost its signal! Great timing GPS, we kind of need you right now to track out inbound course through this fog! Of course, we still have our larger GPS, but we have become quite reliant on using the track from Navigatrix. As we both fiddled, Moe steered our course using the large GPS and, after unplugging and re-plugging the small one, it found its mind and was kind enough to give us a fix. Whew! As we were traveling in the fog, we were also using our radar and could see all kinds of fish boats around us, as well as Paxx ahead of us. It was very cool to see them on the radar as they approached us and then look outside to see them emerging like ghost ships in the fog.
We kept in radio contact with Paxx. As we were discussing our route and the general state of affairs, we were hailed by Aeolus! They, too, were on their way around Cape Beale. They had spent the night in another anchorage and had a head start on us. When I told Frances that everyone passes us, she scoffed, thinking that they were the slow boat. We soon proved them right and before long both Aeolus and Paxx were well ahead of us. But that’s okay, they radioed back and let us know the weather and sea conditions as they encountered them. It’s wonderful having sail buddies out there!.
On Reborn, we had agreed to take two hour watches for this day. We expected that it would take us approximately 15 hours to get from Bamfield to Sooke via Juan de Fuca Strait. Moe took the first watch from 5:00 to 7:00; I took 7:00 – 9:00; Rory got 9:00 to 11:00 and Ken did the 11:00 to 1:00 watch and so we progressed through the day. Each person on watch was responsible for keeping a sharp eye on the radar, the sea and our course on Navigatrix. Occasionally, boats would appear on our radar that required some action on the part of the crew. Sometimes we would change our course, but for the most part we kept on track.
We traveled along, hoping for wind and the fog to lift. We did get the genoa sail up and were able to sail with it for some time.. Though we could see not a trace of land to our port side, I did make a note in the log when we passed significant landmarks:
6:38 – Rounding Cape Beale
8:02 – Pachena Point
1317 – Port Renfrew (aka Port San Juan) to port, Neah Bay to stbd
Though I had anticipated our Juan de Fuca Strait transit with a little trepidation, I was disappointed not to see the shore on our port side, nor the large freighters that would be passing on our starboard side.
We did have an excellent current with us and averaged up to 7 knots. For us, that’s like breaking the sound barrier, we felt like speed demons! Going faster would definitely reduce our travel time and no one was complaining about that. At 1737 we were all elated to see the fog lifting and get our first glimpse of land since leaving in the morning. Yay for Otter Point, we can see you!! By now the wind was also picking up, but with the close proximity of the shore on one side and the shipping lane on the other side (where the big boys drive), our general lack of attention to sails and our desire to get to our destination, we didn’t put up a sail.
We arrived at Sooke much sooner than expected. The wind, as had been reported to us by Aeolus, was 30 knots west. The sea state had also picked up. We had about a 2 foot chop over the sea swell. These conditions meant that as we approached the shallow entrance to Sooke Harbour, we had a rather large following sea. We were skiiing down the water hills! Which, of course, sounds like great fun, but in reality can be a little scary.
The entrance to Sooke Harbour was never on my ‘watch out for this danger!’ radar. Pity, it should have been. Let me explain. Most of time, a mariner simply needs to keep the green port buoy to the port side and the red starboard buoy to the starboard side. It’s pretty easy. Sometimes entrances need a little more direction so the Navigational gods will occasionally add ranges. A range is a set of two separate arrows. In order to navigate a certain body of water safely, the mariner must line these two arrows up so that the top arrow, which looks kind of like a V, matches up to the bottom arrow, which looks kind of like an A. These two ranges must stay in line until it is safe to turn. In the case of Sooke Harbour, it has two ranges. You have to line up the first, transit that line, then make a turn when you see the next set of ranges, line those up until it is safe to turn. When the sea is friendly, this isn’t such a big deal. When the devil is dancing on the water, it’s like navigating over mounds of slick, slippery goo while drunk and trying to stay between the lines. Well, he was dancing when we were there! Rory was most helpful in guiding and helping keep us between the lines as Moe struggled for a good 15 minutes to keep Reborn on course. He worked very hard with full on concentration. Finally, we made it through the first range! YAY! Then a quick turn to line up the next range and the water immediately settled and we were on our way to the anchorage. Thank the Lord and pass the peas! Sooke Harbour is now on my radar.
We were happy to see Paxx and Aeolus safely anchored in the windy harbour. We found a good spot and hooked our anchor into the mud. As we were anchoring there was a small boat craftily setting his crab pots all around the anchored sailboats. Hmmm, morning should be interesting.
We were all relieved that our long day was finally done and it had taken us 13 hours instead of the anticipated 15 hours. It was unfortunate that the only scenery we saw was white fog, but we’ll take what we can get and speed was a decent trade off. We had our customary celebratory drinks and then I started dinner. We ate crab that had been given to us in Ucluelet and Harry’s Curried Chicken. By the time dinner was done, so was this first mate. I told everyone that I was tired and cranky and was sending myself to my room. The galley was theirs to do as they wished.