Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
10 September 2018 | The Laughing Oyster, Okeover Landing
Smoky, warm, light winds
Smoke at Manson's Landing
Getting to the Broughtons is more difficult than getting back. From Port McNeill to Desolation Sound was three great sailing days, with a bit of motoring through the rapids. But as we entered the Desolation Sound area, we were ready to stop. We decided to spend two nights in beautiful quiet Von Donop Inlet. Although just a few miles off the beaten path to the favourite anchorages in Desolation Sound, it gets far fewer boats. Here too we saw far fewer boats that when we left in mid-July.
Anchor down and set, we headed ashore for a short hike to stretch our legs. We had not really done any walking since Port McNeill, four days ago. Then back to the boat for dinner. We are still working our way through the freezer where we stocked up hurriedly on our way north. We still have four big steaks from Big Bay and tonight, we split one. With fresh veggies from Port McNeill and a BC Cab Sauvignon, a nice dinner.
In the morning, we did the reverse hike we did a few weeks earlier... we hiked from Von Donop to Squirrel Cove, where we counted just 14 boats. Although we could not see the full anchorage, there were far fewer boats in the inner anchorage that we could see. Clearly the season is winding down here. Back in Von Donop, we did a dinghy tour of the area, a few boat jobs and the day was over.
When we came through the rapids into Desolation Sound, we noticed a change... smoke. With the wildfires raging in the interior of the province, the smoke has been slowly working its way to the coast. We noticed signs of it when heading north, but today it was noticeably heavier, with warnings about health concerns and not exerting yourself.
Next morning (August 20th), we raised anchor and rounded the west side of Cortes Island and headed for Manson's Landing. We arrived to find a crowded anchorage, typically very deep everywhere but some very small areas between deep water and drying flats. Rather than anchor in 70', we crept up to a nice 20' and set the anchor. Not a spot for low tide as we would be just a few feet from grounding, but fine for a few hours around high tide.
We clearly need more anchor rode. We carry 200' of chain on our main rode. That means safe anchorage in about 40'. But many of the anchorages in the areas we have been cruising are significantly deeper. So we will have to decide whether to replace the entire chain with 300', or add to the existing with 150' of rope. A project for next winter.
But for now, we were well set for a few hours, so we set off ashore. We walked up the road about one kilometre to the commercial centre of Cortes Island. It contained a couple of cafes, grocery store and a few other shops. We decided on a small cafe for lunch and were not disappointed... excellent. Then a few groceries in the attached co-op and we headed back to the dinghy. We took the dinghy into a lagoon, accessible only for a few hours around high tide, found a path up to Hague Lake where we stuck our toes into the warm water. But time to catch the tide and avoid finding ourselves trapped inside the lagoon.
Back aboard, we hoisted the anchor and rounded Sutil Point and dropped the anchor in Cortes Bay in better anchoring depths.
The smoke is getting worse, causing us to re-think the remainder of our stay here. We have some areas we would like to see, but with the smoke, little of the spectacular scenery is visible, not to mention the effect of breathing the smoky air. Our eyes are sore and we are doing little that requires exertion.
But we had one stop we were not going to miss... dinner at The Laughing Oyster. We had a delicious lunch there on our way north and wanted to try dinner. And we learned that Wednesday was Seafood Buffet night. So we made reservations and headed down.
Leaving Cortes Bay (August 21), we motored in light air across the Sound down into Malispina Inlet and up Lancelot Inlet to the Susan Islets for the night. Next morning, we dug clams at low tide, only to find the area closed due to shellfish poisoning, so back they went. In the afternoon, we headed down Lancelot Inlet and into Okeover Inlet. By now the smoke was at its worst. With less than 1/2 mile visibility, we watched the radar screen all the way down. But we met little traffic. Boats were just staying put in the dense smoke. But the meal was worth the trip.